Skeptophilia (skep-to-fil-i-a) (n.) - the love of logical thought, skepticism, and thinking critically. Being an exploration of the applications of skeptical thinking to the world at large, with periodic excursions into linguistics, music, politics, cryptozoology, and why people keep seeing the face of Jesus on grilled cheese sandwiches.

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

The outrage machine

As of this morning, I have now seen the following post five times:

It seems like it should be obvious this can't be true, because if there was a rule banning the posting the Lord's Prayer on Facebook, this post and the hundreds of others like it would have been deleted, which they weren't.  Apparently, that line of reasoning doesn't seem to occur to people, because instead, the whole thing elicited a chorus of "Amens" and lots of middle fingers raised by the members of the Religious Outrage Machine toward everyone they think is oppressing them, which is pretty much... everyone.

It's so widespread it made it to Snopes, which (of course) found there's no truth to it at all.  There is no prohibition against posting religious material on Facebook, as long as it doesn't involve hate speech.

So let's get something straight, okay?  You Christians in the United States are not a persecuted minority.  Estimates from polls in 2021 show that about 63% of Americans identify as Christian.  There is no basis whatever for the claims made in sites like TruthOnlyBible, which stated that there's a push toward conservative Christians being "[excluded] from basic services, such as air travel, hotel, cell phone, banking, internet shopping, and even insurance."

Seriously, considering how loud the conservative Christians are about airing their grievances at every possible opportunity, how long do you think an airline would last if they said "I'm sorry, you can't purchase a flight to Cancun with us because you're a Christian"?

The most bizarre thing about this claim is that in a lot of the United States, the opposite trend is true.  Despite the "no religious test" clause in the Constitution, in many parts of America it'd be flat-out impossible to get elected if you're not a Christian (and in some of those places, you have to be a particular sort of Christian).

Hell, the second in line for the presidency is an ultra-conservative, anti-LGBTQ, fundamentalist young-earth creationist.

Remind me again how embattled y'all are?

The fact is, no one is trying to stop people from praying, posting Christian stuff online, wishing people Merry Christmas, or going to church.  No one.  You're just as free to be religious as you ever were.  Maybe more people these days are willing to say, "You can't force your religion on me," but that does not equate to "And I'd like to force my lack of religion on you."

But people aren't galvanized by messages like "we're all just trying to get along, here."  Despite my frequent bafflement at why people seem to enjoy feeling indignant, I have to admit that feeding the outrage machine works.  It's why the imaginary "War on Christmas" absolutely refuses to die.  You'd think that twenty years would be enough to convince everyone that no one, not even an Evil Atheist like myself, is trying to kill Christmas, but another thing that comes along with this mindset appears to be a complete resistance to facts and logic.

If you convince people they have something to be scared and mad about, they act.  Which is why fear-mongering is all over the news.  It's why politicians are experts in stoking anger.

"Vote for me, I'll fix what I just made you afraid of" is a mighty powerful message.

But as far as Facebook and prayers -- as I've said more than once here at Skeptophilia, if you're trying to persuade someone of something, blatantly lying about it does not make your case stronger.  And while it might be easy to take advantage of people who can't be bothered even to do a thirty-second Google fact-check search, ultimately what it does is blow your own credibility to smithereens.

So please, please stop reposting bullshit like this.  Can I get an amen to that?


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