Why do attacks on gays, Muslims, Jews, and other minority groups generate a vast examination of conscience, while acts of hatred or contempt directed at Christians generally provoke basic silence, asks John Allen.
In part, perhaps, it’s because in the popular Western imagination, Christians aren't a minority, but that perception has little relationship with contemporary reality.
In the wake of the Orlando massacre, Americans rightly find themselves asking - aside from the individual pathologies that may have haunted Omar Mir Seddique Mateen - if there’s an ugly undercurrent of hatred of LGBT persons in our society that contributes to such violence.
We also rightly fret over whether the actions of a lone deranged individual may stoke hatred of Muslims generally, the vast majority of whom are as horrified as everyone else.
In other parts of the world, similar dynamics unfold whenever acts of hate occur. If a synagogue is defaced in Eastern Europe, people there ask if they’ve truly exorcised the demon of anti-Semitism; if a black soccer player suffers verbal abuse during a match, Italians debate the residual effects of racism.
Those are not only legitimate questions, they’re a measure of the moral maturity of those societies, willing to be self-critical in order to ensure that prejudice does not have the last word.
One has to ask, however, if there are certain blind spots in that philosophy of “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty” - specifically, as it applies to assaults directed at Christian targets.
In just the last few weeks, here’s a partial rundown of what’s happened in various parts of the world:
Photo: A chapel at the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid was desecrated last week (Spanish News Today)