Uncovering the Truth: US Protestant Notions of Individuality on Equality Creates Hypocrisy
The recent guidelines on social distancing to prevent COVID-19 has revealed how US Protestant concepts of individuality and equality creates hypocrisy and hatred. I wanted to go for a walk in the park with my friend, but I cannot social distance. I rely on whomever I am with to help me. This dependency means that I cannot stay 6’ apart from people. My mom was scared that I would get the Coronavirus and give it to her. She screamed to my brother, “Why does Janey get excused from the law?” It was at this point that I understood why she seemed to always make double standards for me; she believed in the US Protestant notion of equality.
The US culture was founded on the Protestant belief that all people have equal rights (Gillin, p. 491). This belief is their definition of individuality (Gillin, p. 491). The Catholic definition of individuality in Latin America, called la dignidad, is the value of each person’s unique, inner quality (Gillin, p. 491). In 1976, these definitions of individuality motivated the US to assume operational control of the Western hemisphere-wide state terror program, Operation Condor.
The US feared that this Latin American concept would spread to the US and impose the rights of a few on the masses with their unique qualities and need for tailored accommodations. These special needs would undermine US notions of equality because some people would get special treatment – the very practice Protestants had fought against during the Reformation (Witte, Jr.).
Growing up, my mom acted the same way. I always felt like she treated me worse than herself. That was because she did not understand the spirit of God’s commandments to do our personal best. She would say that I was inconsiderate because she had to do things for me and that was different than doing things for herself. She claimed that helping me was more difficult than people taking care of themselves. She did not understand that my needs were not intended to take advantage of people like someone who wanted to use others.
By not accounting for accommodations for individuals like my mom, this Protestant notion of equality causes the very hypocrisy that Jesus condemns in Matthew 23. Jesus never wanted laws where some people have extra burdens because of other’s expectations (Matthew 23:4). In fact, Jesus says, “…my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:30). Jesus does not want to make us do things that we cannot do. He just wants us to imitate Him and give all we have to Him like the woman who gave her only two coins to Jesus (Matthew 12:41-44). By demanding that everyone do the same things like the Protestant concept of individuality and equality, we become hypocrites, who do not value people’s personal best and do not understand the purpose of God’s intentions for making His laws. We end up hating people like Jesus says we do when we do not love people as ourselves (Matthew 22:39).