The Pew Forum has released a doozy of a poll about religion in public life in the United States showing that white evangelical Christians possess grossly overdeveloped feelings of victimhood. Given that the voting bloc evangelicals comprise is one of the most heavily pandered to in American politics, and given the fact that evangelicals themselves are the cause of some very real discrimination, there is thus a mountainous irony at play here.
In a survey of 2,002 Americans, Pew found that 72% believe that religious influence is waning in the country, and sadly, 56% regard this as a "negative development." A disturbing 59% of Americans say they want members of Congress to "have strong religious beliefs." When it comes to discrimination, believe it or not, more Americans think that evangelicals are discriminated against than atheists. Here's the breakdown of the religious/irreligious groups Pew asked about:
Perceptions of Discrimination in U.S.
% saying there is a lot of discrimination against...
Evangelical Christians 31%
Like the members of the other four groups listed here, evangelicals are probably more likely to perceive discrimination against themselves than they are when it comes to outside groups. However, this next breakdown shows the staggering degree to which evangelical Christians -- and let's emphasize that since that is after all the majority religious group in the country -- think they are victims of discrimination:
Notice that of white evangelicals, white mainline Protestants, black Protestants, white Catholics, Hispanic Catholics, and those who are unaffiliated with any religion, it's white evangelicals who are much more likely to think "there is a lot of discrimination" against them, with 50% believing their demographic is discriminated against "a lot."
Amazingly, white evangelicals believe there is more discrimination against them than there is against Muslims, blacks, Hispanics, Jews, and atheists.
However, this will not come as a surprise to anyone who's been paying attention to the grumblings from evangelical circles about their phantasmagoric plight in an increasingly secular society. This narrative, which has been spoon-fed to them for decades by self-serving preachers, politicians, and pundits, enables white evangelicals to interpret measures designed to stop discrimination against others as actually being discriminatory against the evangelical way of life. For example, it was just last week when televangelist Pat Robertson went on a nonsensical rant explaining why the U.S. Air Force's decision to let an atheist reenlistee omit the words "So help me god" from his oath, was yet another instance of the armed forces being "terrorized" by secularists.
Absurd as that was, the diatribe was entirely representative of the reality, as indicated not only by the aforementioned Pew poll, but another Pew poll conducted earlier this year. That survey shows that despite the evangelical cries of, "Help, help, I'm being repressed!" it's actually nonbelievers who are held in much lower regard by their fellow Americans:
Only 21% of Americans say they'd be less likely to vote for an evangelical for president. Yet, a straight majority (53%) say the same about an atheist candidate. It should also be noted that Pew found that 53% of Americans say belief in god is necessary to be a moral person. That means a majority of Americans view atheists as either immoral or amoral people. No wonder the same percentage thinks atheists are unfit for the presidency, and no wonder there is not a single openly atheist member of the U.S. Congress, despite the fact that some 24 of them have privately said they don't believe in god.
This is the white evangelical persecution complex quantified. Despite all the religiosity that's so readily apparent in public life -- "In God we trust" on the money, the National Prayer Breakfast, "God Bless America" signing off every major presidential speech, the continued use of "So help me God" at the end of the presidential oath of office despite nothing of the sort appearing in the oath in the Constitution, the existence of a congressional chaplain, the Ten Commandments still cropping up on public property across the country, the political death sentence that would be incurred by most politicians who publicly declare their atheism, the presence of nativity scenes on public property during Christmastime, the nauseating political pandering to ignorant creationists, the treatment of gay people as second class citizens because the Bible says so -- it is the white evangelical Christians who think they suffer above all others.