Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Persecution paranoia

I’ve had the same conversation with at least 6 Christians in the last year. They think that “the church” is being persecuted in the United States. They go further and suggest the persecution is masterminded by the government, or the media, or some other secular boogeyman. The insist that it is all real. That Christians are under attack by the secular forces lurking behind every government program. It has a certain flavor of paranoia too it. You know the type, they are not quite crazy, but you still would not leave your children in their care.

I try to counter their assertions with facts. The United States is a predominantly Christian nation. I tell them there are 27 churches in the 5 square miles surrounding my house. That I pass 43 churches on the way to work each day. That I went 15 years between meeting people who would claim to be atheists. Sure it is more common now, but it is still rare.They respond that most of these other Christians are not members of the “true church,” and therefore not true Christians, which is code talk for what many evangelicals think of Catholics, and vise versa.

Persecution means -  A program or campaign to subjugate or eliminate a specific group of people, often based on race, religion, sexuality, or social beliefs.

Can any Christian rightfully claim persecution in the United States? I cannot see how it is possible. There is no campaign to subjugate the Christian majority; The notion is absurd. And the elimination of Christians, which would mean the murder of Christians via some kind of organized program, is beyond the pale.

I read a short post on Persecution by blogger David Paul Dorr that clears up some of this for me. For a modern era Christian living in the United States, the notion of being persecuted is a good thing. It shows that you are a true Christian suffering for Jesus. Some Christians want to think that they are persecuted. It helps their self-image. But the things they call persecution are not even close to the real article.

Most of us have no idea what persecution would mean — but we can ask a few questions that are pointers to how we would react:

  1. How do you react now when you are disrespected? (If you don’t know, ask your spouse or a good friend).  Do you respond with love and prayer, seeking reconciliation, or do you complain and speak evil of the offender?
  2. How do you react if something is taken from you unfairly?  Do you get bitter?  Or do respond with joy knowing that you have a better city (Hebrews 10:34)?
  3. Would you attend church services in basements, with no childcare, no sound system, very little music?  Would you begrudge it?

I know how some of them react when they fell disrespected. The scream, you are persecuting me, as loud and often as they can. Next time I’ll hand them a dictionary.

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