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Countering Christian Hegemony

In the coming months in the United States and many other parts of the world, people will be engaged in what is often called “The Holiday Season.”

This is a euphemism for an outward manifestation of Christian hegemony and domination. During “The Holidays,” the pretense that we live in a secular society is dropped, and the belief that Christianity is right and everyone must be made to follow its traditions and practices is openly demonstrated in public places and in everyday discourse. This is fully visible in the common greetings that will soon overtake almost everyone: “Happy Holidays” and “Season’s Greetings.”

In recent years in U.S. society, we’ve started to pretend that we’re including in “Season’s Greetings” the Hanukkah and even the Kwanza celebrations. In reality, banks, public schools, government buildings, and most other public institutions are closed for Christmas and the Christian New Year—not for Hanukkah or Kwanza or the Chinese, Jewish, Thai, or other New Year celebrations.

The problem is not that any group celebrates its religion. The problem is that one religion takes over public life to the exclusion of all others and requires that the rules and practices that govern public life be based on it; that people of all religions, or no religion, organize their lives (time off from work, children home from school, banking, shopping, civic meetings) on the basis of that dominant religion.

To highlight, interrupt, and possibly contradict the almost mandatory, unquestioned acceptance of Christian dominance in daily public life, I have encouraged people to experiment with a counter-oppression greeting. I have suggested that when someone says, “Happy Holidays,” or “Season’s Greetings,” or “Merry Christmas,” they respond with something like, “And a world without oppression to you.”

You can experiment until you find the sequence of words that rolls off your tongue in just the right way.

Happy Discharge.

Barbara Love

International Liberation Reference Person for African Heritage People

Amherst, Massachusetts, USA

 

Eskerrik asko, gracias [“thank you” in Basque and Spanish], Barbara. What you write reflects what happens also in Spain and Euskal Herria, the Basque Country.

In these two countries we have Catholic churches in all corners, small and large. It is difficult to be in a natural space—for example, a mountaintop or cave—and not find a small church or a cross or a figure of a virgin. A large number of these are built in places that were, or still are, sacred to the Indigenous communities of the territory. Often underneath them one can find traces of the original Native culture.

All churches in urban spaces, and some in natural spaces, have bells that can be heard over long distances. If you live in a city or town, you’ll be obliged to listen to them every hour or every fifteen minutes. On a Sunday or a date with meaning for the Catholic Church, you will hear them with intensity for a long time. There is no way to escape it.

During the Easter festivities in the spring, the streets of every town and city are filled with religious celebrations. They interrupt traffic for hours, especially at night, and include the beating of drums that produces a deafening sound.

The Christian church has chosen for many of its festivities moments in the natural cycle of the Earth that for the original communities meant a special relationship with the Universe. So instead of Christian greetings during certain festivities, some of us say, “Happy Winter Solstice,” “Happy Summer Solstice,” or “Happy Spring Equinox.” With these expressions we try to remember our Native roots and not accept the hegemony and dominance of Christianity and its belief system—that there is a superior God who judges us, is outside of and away from us, and sees human beings as separate from Mother Earth and superior to other beings.

It would be interesting to hear about this topic from Indigenous communities in other places.

Juanma

International Liberation Reference Person for African Heritage People

Bilbao, Bizkaia, Euskal Herria (Basque Country)

Reprinted from the RC e-mail discussion list for leaders of wide world change

(Present Time 193, October 2018)


Last modified: 2018-11-14 11:36:03+00