Response to the Columbus Dispatch Article Titled:
"U.S. Christians can't claim persecution"
In order to avoid possible copyright infringements, we do not quote the entire Columbus Dispatch article in our response. To obtain a copy of original Dispatch article, click here.
excerpts from original article = brown
our responses = black
Except for a headline that seems to overstate what the author intended, I'm not going to blame the Dispatch for this one. While I'm certain that there were some at the Dispatch who were absolutely giddy over this article, I don't believe the Dispatch went out of its way to publish it just to persecute Christians. Cal Thomas, the author of this article, is a syndicated columnist for the Los Angeles Times and has a regular column in the Dispatch. His articles are normally of a more conservative nature. I normally enjoy reading his articles, but this time I was absolutely stunned by what I read in this article. While I suspect that he did not intend any deliberate malice towards Christians, this article was absolutely amazing in terms of how out of touch with reality it was.
There has been a lot of talk like this. Christians and their "values" aren't getting the respect they deserve from non-Christians. In fact, say many on what the new media call the religious right, they are being persecuted for their beliefs.
This is an accurate statement in terms of describing how many Christians do feel today. However, it describes the symptom, not the root problem. The real issue is that God and his revealed Word, the Bible are not getting the respect they deserve. This is not just a matter of Christians versus the rest of the world. It is God versus those who don't believe in His revealed truths. As adopted children of Jesus Christ, we participate in the battle but it is His power and wisdom that allows us to make any progress at all. Without Him, we are nothing. Without his revealed Word to base our beliefs on, our mere "opinions" would be utterly worthless. And were it not for His mercy and love for His adopted children, not one of us would ever see Heaven because not one of us deserves to receive such a rich blessing based on our own merits.
The direct-mail fund-raising letters from various TV ministers and some who are ministerial wannabes speak of religions persecution! complete with exclamation points. (snip) ... They ask for money to fight this "persecution," though specifics are often lacking beyond "restoring" prayer and Bible-reading to public schools or hanging the Ten Commandments in classrooms.
While there probably are some bad apples out there, not all Christian organizations who solicit money for purposes of fighting persecution against Christians are sitting on their hands and doing nothing with the money. Consider the Center for Reclaiming America, headed up by Dr. D. James Kennedy, as a good example of an organization that is very active in defending Christian causes. They are involved in some very good efforts, including providing financial support for the Alliance Defense Fund, an organization dedicated in part to helping to stop (and reverse where possible) the harmful effects the ACLU has had on this country by its aggressive harassment of Christians and Christian causes.
The presumption is that non-Christians are supposed to accept the Christian agenda and beliefs without question. Christians are surprised and offended that anyone would oppose their beliefs and tactics, because they claim to be right.
I don't know where these perceptions came from, but as a Christian, I don't believe these things and don't know of any other Christian who does. This seems to be setting up a straw man. These comments seem to ignore our nation's history. The real issue is that Christians see a tremendous erosion of their influence in America. This nation was founded as a Christian nation. There never was meant to be the kind of perverted, twisted separation of church and state that exists today. The founding fathers clearly intended for Christianity to be allowed in all aspects of public life, and in fact promoted it. What they didn't want was a particular "denomination" controlling the government, or the government meddling in church business. They also believed that Christianity should have a heavy influence on the government. The whole separation of church and state myth was an invention of an anti-Christian ACLU attorney a few decades ago. The Bible is also clear about what kind of rulers we are to select:
Moreover you shall select from all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers Exodus 18:21
Because God says (not our personal opinions) that nations that fall away from His truths will be punished for doing so, we have a moral responsibility to oppose anything that is contrary to God's Word. Christian claims of persecution are not only about what we see happening today. It's also very much about where we're headed for as a nation if we continue in the moral free-fall we're now in. Like the saying goes, "Bad things happen when good men do nothing". The persecution Christians face today is very real, it's very serious, and it's only going to get a lot worse if we don't take strong action now. Our children will be the ones to pay the heaviest price if we fail.
First, many in the world being beheaded, stoned, flogged and imprisoned for their faith might gladly exchange such persecution for the mostly mere inconveniences experienced by American Christians.
In this attempt to trivialize the persecution American Christians face, this worldly view of the issue also trivializes the impact of the issues American Christians are being persecuted over. For instance, it may seem like a trivial issue to Mr. Thomas for parents of a public school child to be locked into years of conflict with the child's teachers over the issue of evolutionism, homosexuality and a plethora of other liberal ideas being vigorously promoted by the public schools. The parents are involved in a struggle with the school system, and the government over the control of their child's mind. For instance, the government wants to indoctrinate their child with the anti-God religion of evolution. The parents want their child to know the truth that God created the universe, and that the child needs to have a personal relationship with his Creator, Jesus Christ. If the parents loose this battle, it can have eternal consequences for the child. So there is an eternal aspect to this issue that must not be overlooked.
While being eaten by lions or having your head chopped off are certainly among the most serious kinds of persecutions Christians can face, there are still other kinds of persecution that clearly belong in the category of "serious". It is not appropriate to categorize them as "mere inconveniences". One only needs to look at some of the cases that Christian legal defense organizations like the Christian Law Association, The American Center for Law and Justice - ACLJ and the Alliance Defense Fund have handled over the years. Subscribe to their newsletters and see if you still think that persecution of Christians in America is a trivial matter.
The Apostles suffered greatly for their faith. Some were flogged. Others lost their liberty and all but one lost his life, the last one suffering exile and dying a "natural" death on an island. None complained or asked the government to step in and stop the persecution.
This is comparing apples and oranges. We live in a democracy where we elect the officials who rule us. I'm no history expert, but I suspect that the apostles didn't have the options available to them that we do today in America to deal with injustices perpetrated by a government against its people. Is Mr. Thomas suggesting that Christians abandon their constitutional rights just so they can receive more persecution? Allow me to use one of Rush Limbaugh's favorite ways to respond to something like this; to illustrate absurdity with absurdity. Let's pursue Mr. Thomas's line of thinking even further. Why not create a new position within all American churches called the "Deacon of Persecution". In this role, a church elder would go around torturing and killing church members who weren't getting enough persecution from the government and non-Christians. Perhaps then they would be getting enough persecution, and would then be worthy of the title "Christian".
In fact, the record tells us they rejoiced that God counted them worthy to suffer disgrace for the Name (Acts 5:41). So lighten up, Christians, and get about the business of doing the things that bring real persecution.
1. Not all Christians are called by God to be martyrs. We don't go out and decide for ourselves to die for the cause. That's 100% God's choice to allow us to be in the circumstances in which that could happen. 2. The degree to which your are persecuted is not always a reliable measure of whether or not you're doing what God expects of you. Mr. Thomas's statement above seems to imply that you're not doing God's work unless you're being subjected to the most horrible kinds of persecution. Where are the Bible verses to support this? 3. Lighten up? What verse of scripture did this advice from? We are warring with a public school system, a news media and increasingly a government that are heavily influenced by atheism, humanism and liberalism. We are in the midst of major spiritual warfare on several fronts, with an invisible enemy more powerful than all the nation's armies. We are engaged in a battle for the soul of our nation. We are fighting for our children's futures. And he thinks we should "lighten up"? Mr. Thomas, if we don't stop the tide of liberalism that is mounting against us, you may very well get what you seem to be asking for. You may see people being arrested, even murdered for their beliefs in Christ. It's already starting. I can recall one case where a Christian man is being sued for a very large amount of money and could lose everything, including his home. What was his "crime"? He witnessed to a homosexual man. The homosexual then used the state's new "hate crime" law to file a lawsuit against the Christian. Mr. Thomas, if this man looses everything he owns because of his Christian beliefs, would you still consider that a "mere inconvenience"?
Mr. Thomas, you are an excellent writer who I have enjoyed reading in the past. But I say this with the greatest of respect; please get better informed on this issue. Your comments in this article are far removed from the reality that many American Christians face today. Contact some of the Christian legal organizations that are having to devote so much time and money to defending Christians from increasing persecution and see if the cases they're handling are "mere inconveniences" to their clients.
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