A lot of people are upset about the outcome of this year?s election. The prospect of having to share their country with people who voted for Bush and oppose same-sex ?marriage? has left them unhinged.
Historian Garry Wills, writing in the New York Times, called November 2 the ?day the Enlightenment went out.? His characterization of American society, and Christians in particular, made it sound like you can expect your doctor to prescribe leeches at your next visit.
Other people are so distraught about the election that they are thinking about emigrating. The country that comes up first, of course, in these stories is
That makes sense. It is close, Canadians are friendly, and they speak English?at least most of them do.
For some that alternative is Central America. A woman quoted by Reuters has put her home on the market in preparation for her exile. She?ll probably have lots of company. Her real estate agent told her that he received ?forty-five calls in one day from Americans looking to move to the same location.?
These aspiring expatriates are in for a surprise. The explosive growth of Christianity, especially Pentecostalism, in Central America makes those countries even less receptive to ideas like same-sex ?marriage? than our country. The hired help?expatriates can hire cooks and valets for a dollar an hour?will think that someone who left the United States over same-sex ?marriage? is, at best, mad and, at worst, demon-possessed.
Our expatriates may find tracts strategically placed in the bathrooms and wake up one night to find that the local Pentecostal church is standing outside for an all-night prayer vigil, complete with a ?Jericho march? around the concrete-and-stucco walls.
Of course, few, if any, of these people will actually move. The real issue in stories like this isn?t their disillusionment with their country, but their intolerance and contempt for their fellow citizens.
This contempt is on display when Wills asks, ?Can a people that believes more fervently in the Virgin birth than in evolution still be called an Enlightened nation?? That is, people who disagree with him on same-sex ?marriage? and abortion are more than wrong?they?re deficient in what he calls ?Enlightenment values,? like ?critical intelligence,? ?a regard for the secular sciences,? and, of course, ?tolerance.?
You see, despite their professed devotion to democracy, the words of Wills and others betray a preference for oligarchy, rule by a like-minded few. For all of the talk about ?pluralism,? they will only tolerate different points-of-view if theirs are the only views that matter. Rather than be governed by those they consider their ?inferiors,? they threaten to move or even secede from the
As I said, it?s mostly talk, but the kind of talk you ought to keep in mind the next time you hear Christians being called ?intolerant.? After all, we are not the ones calling real estate agents, yelling ?¿Habla Ingles?? into the telephone.
For further reading and information:
Gary Wills, ? The Day the Enlightenment Went Out ,? New York Times,
Sarah Anderson, ? Ten Reasons Not to Move to Canada ,? Common Dreams,
?The great New York Times freak out ,? Get Religion,
Steve Rubenstein, ? Inquiries up from anti-Bush Americans seeking to leave U.S. ,? San Francisco Chronicle,
Sean Salai, ? Kerry supporters seek therapy in South Florida ,? Boca Raton News,
Andrea Elliott, ? The Political Conversion of New York?s Evangelicals ,? New York Times,
?What Do Americans Have in Common? ? Talk of the Nation, NPR,
Erin Curry, ? Hispanic Democratic group in Fla. rejects Kerry endorsement, citing moral issues ,? BP News,
Roberto Rivera, ? Terminally Quaint: When Obscure Spirituality Demands Nothing ,? BreakPoint Online,