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Closeted Christians: Unseen Discrimination on Social App

October 4, 2015

Yik Yak is a popular app, which is meant to be exclusive to college campuses (or at least college students). The app allows people to post their thoughts in a “yak” (similar to a tweet) as well as comment and vote up or down on other people’s yaks—and all of this is completely anonymous. The anonymity of this site allows people to freely post whatever they would like with presumably no consequence to themselves. The app can be fun and is often used for random comical thoughts and observations; however, occasionally more serious matters will be addressed (politics, personal values, etc.).  

 
It is no secret that we are in a very liberal thinking society these days—so being in a college environment, a traditionally liberal one in any age, you can guess how things usually go on this app. Now, I know not everyone will share my beliefs and I do my best to respect that, but recently there was a post that I felt had gone too far. It began as a typical post denying the existence of God (surely you saw that coming). So, as I typically do on these posts, I commented doing my best to defend that many people believe in God and ask that they respect that. I figured this would follow the typical trajectory of these anonymous short breathed debates—claim, rebuttal, story of tragedy, story of triumph, curse words (presumably to account for their lack of true understanding), and then a third party would change the topic and the debate would dry up. This time, however, it took an unforgivable turn.

As sad as it is, I know there are people who (for whatever personal reason they may have) do not believe in God, but this person (who is a self proclaimed agnostic) began to try to persuade me that having faith is, “illogical, stubborn, and stupid.”  It is their belief that having faith causes wars and violations of individual rights.

Now, being a Catholic for the past 20 plus years and now attending a public university, I know people will attack religion but to attack faith itself is inexcusable. If religion is the light bulb, faith is the circuit board, wires, and currents that allow the light bulb to function. Faith is the cornerstone of who we are as believers. If someone does not possess faith that is of their concern; it does not grant them the authority to say that I am a stubborn illogical fool for having it. 

As I have already mentioned, we live in a very liberal space. People advocate for the respect of minorities, homosexuals, the sexes, and just about anyone else who has seen oppression. This is, of course, a wonderful thing. All people deserve respect and understanding (especially in the nation we call home); what I wonder is why that same compassion is not extended to people of faith? I can tell you I have received much more hate than support when trying to defend my faith on this app. An app where people are granted full anonymity, no worries of “saving face” or making enemies, I still see far more posts and comments condemning people of faith than I do in support—although there are a few others such as myself. Surely there are more than a handful of believers using the app, so why the imbalance? People are so afraid of the impending responses that they cannot stand up for what they believe. 

Being a Catholic today—especially on a college campus—is a tricky existence. Of course it is common understanding not to voluntarily bring up religion or politics when talking to someone you do not know extremely well; however, that rule doesn’t seem to apply to people who hold liberal views. I have been in conversations about how “religion is evil” and  about “Bible thumping Christians” who are “so judgmental.” I listen to all of this while others agree, knowing that if I open my mouth as wide as they have, I face a sea of isolation. So I, and surely many other Christians, do my best to amend their statements without breaking the egg shells beneath my feet. I have been fortunate enough to have a close group of friends who, although they may not share my beliefs, respect that I have them and never speak disrespectfully of my beliefs or me. That being said, I have heard other people talk about their Christian friends and it will always come with the qualifier of  “but they aren’t annoying about it”-- a sad distinction to have to make.

When compiling the various accounts of this piece we see a few themes: it has become acceptable to shame people of faith, Christians have to be very careful about what they say (if they say anything at all), and we have to clarify upon revealing our faith that we aren’t “one of those kind of Christians.”  This may not be nearly as bad as what goes on elsewhere and with different matters, but this certainly sounds like a form of oppression to me. Where are the compassionate justice warriors now? It seems that it has become acceptable to hold just about every viewpoint provided that it isn’t in line with Christian values. All of a sudden people who don’t want to get married, have kids, or believe in a higher power are championed as strong individuals whereas anyone who holds these values is seen as simply following suit.

I am not advocating that we go out and force our beliefs on those who do not want them (as faith can only exist where it is welcomed), rather, I am advocating for the same tolerance and compassion that is offered to others. No one should have to be afraid for other people to find out they have faith; it is the fundamental core of who we are. If people are ever to truly know us, they must know our faith. Whether they agree with it or not, it’s who we are and it isn’t going to change.

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