This post is about Stigma. Stigma according to the dictionary is defined as:
. A mark of disgrace or infamy; a stain or reproach, as on one’s reputation.
(Source – Dictionary.com)
I read a few postings recently which concern stigma, or perceived stigma in various topics. And I thought, just because it was Sunday, I have a cold and want to throw my hat in the ring, I would blog about Stigma.
Just a few caveats before you read. I am not trying to be disrespectful, demeaning to any religion or viewpoint, or in any other way offensive. This is my viewpoint and well if you don’t like it, it’s tough cookies.
But here goes….
The post that first made me think about this topic was reviewing a book called “Unashamed To Bear His Name”, which concerns the stigma attached to being a Christian and as the title intrigued me, I decided to have a look.
I have not read the book as it is just published. As it is not available for Kindle, I could not download a sample to get a feel for the writing.
But based on the review (which I thought was a good review), the title of the book and a big assumption on the subject matter, I thought I would offer my views.
Christians have and continue to be persecuted in certain parts of the world. Periods throughout history have condemned Christians to death due to their religion. China and certain other nations still persecute Christians, imprisoning them for preaching or handing out bibles.
But (I think) this book is talking about a normal Joe Bloggs existence, the Christian in Idaho, a Christian in Belfast, rather than a missionary in a distant land.
Does this person, who goes about their normal life, saying their daily prayers, going to church face stigma in the real world?
I think in some respects, certain people invite stigma. Now I know that is a bold statement, but hear me out.
Some of my buddies are Christians, one being a pastor of his own church. They are really nice guys, and we have a great friendship, both different, but equally as good.
Now, if we examine them individually we will find that both embraces their religion, both are firm believers, but one of them (the pastor) will go outside his church and try and encourage others to join his church, so he will go door-to-door, hold public meetings, maybe preach on the street and do everything he can to increase his congregation.
So should the pastor face a little more backlash about his religion? Of course he should. He is publically putting himself in the position of meeting resistance to his religion. So in effect he is inviting stigma.
I am not saying just being a Christian invites stigma, I am saying going out preaching to the unconverted invites stigma. Much like Richard Dawkins, who seems preoccupied on telling people of religion they are wrong, invites stigma to his life.
I am not religious. That’s not to say I haven’t thought about it, but to me it’s not believable. There are lot of reasons for this and I won’t bore you by going into them all.
I think coping with religion (That is coping with your own religion, and coping with others religion) is all about tolerance and more importantly respect.
When I have someone who is devout in their religion to dinner, (One of them has been a guest at Christmas for the last two years), I ask them if they would like to say grace. I do this out of respect for their religion. I would do the same regardless of what that religion was.
We have passing conversations about how church was, congregation size and the usual banter, such as “How are the kids?” or “How’s the weather?” Etc.
What they don’t do is preach to me. They know I don’t like it. I, in turn, do not preach to them about my non-religion, and they respect the fact I have my views and have chosen not to have a religion. And I think that is what makes the difference. It is respect. Mutual Respect.
I have had friends in the past who, when they recently converted, would preach incessantly, telling me how wrong I was for not having a religion, how I was bound for hell and how other religions were an abomination.
I think that is the main difference. When they found God, they lost respect for people of other or non-religions, as they found something, in their opinion, better or different.
I almost lost a recently converted friend for that reason, until we had a long conversation, where he realised that by preaching to me, he was not respecting my non religion. And once it was resolved and he decided to stop preaching to me, then things were good again.
We still talk about religion, sometimes having debates that last into the “wee small hours” but at the end, we agree to disagree, shake hands and go about our lives.
My overall point is simply that all sides, whatever the viewpoint, need to be tolerant and respectful of the other.
As I said at the start I don’t mean to offend, I hope it hasn’t, as I respect your religion. I just wanted to voice my opinion on the topic of stigma.
Amazon– Amazon Link to the book
Vic’s Media Room – The Blog Review