The Persecution of Christians
In the news this week, following on the ascension to power of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt they are now making Egypt’s mosques into houses of torture for Christians. This is just one of the predictable effects of the Arab Spring protests in Egypt, which were organized in part by the same group of union and community organizers who organized the Occupy movement in the United States during the run-up to Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign.
In Judea and Samaria, also known as the West Bank area of Israel, the little town of Bethlehem in which Jesus was born has been very nearly cleansed of Christians. Only sixty years ago Bethlehem was 80% Christian. The ratio has flipped completely on its head and the town is 20% Christian. Now that Hamas and Fatah are in control of the town, Muslim gangs routinely steal land from Christians, beat and rob Christians with impunity and firebomb their homes without ever being prosecuted, let alone punished. Christians aren’t leaving Bethlehem because of the Jewish state, but because of the hostile Palestinian Authority that rules them locally.
The site Persecution.org updates constantly with episodes of persecution of Christians around the world. Here are the five most recent as of this writing.
Though the majority of these cases of violent persecution are in Muslim countries, there are some in China, Nepal, and elsewhere. (Voice of the Martyrs is another good online source for information about the Persecution of Christians around the world.)
Violence isn’t the only form of persecution either. In the United States, Obamacare is now forcing Catholics and other Christians to pay for abortions they don’t want or need, and which they personally believe to be a mortal sin. Even Christian charitable organizations are required to carry insurance that covers abortions, in order to cover their employees who may not be so squeamish about terminating human lives, especially those of innocent infants. If same sex marriage becomes the law of the land in the US, it will only be a matter of time before churches are sued for declining to marry same sex couples. And beyond same sex marriage, the writing is on the wall for the normalization of pedophilia in the English speaking world. At the same time that pedophilia was constantly being used to club all Catholics for the actions of some bad priests, the reprehensible Kevin Jennings was appointed the Safe and Drug-Free Schools Czar by President Obama and the trend to normalize pedophilia rose on the horizons, beginning in Canada and England.
What we are experiencing in the United States and Europe is a failing of the Christian civilization that brought the United States into being. Christians have withdrawn from public life, because they believe it to be contaminated. Many have taken their children out of schools and taught them at home. More have withdrawn from public life and refuse even to run for the school boards that are ruining their public schools. More yet have stopped voting in elections. More yet have stopped speaking in public about what they believe, fearing to be persecuted for crimes of “hate” against the intolerant partisans of intolerance toward Christians and traditional values.
God Helps Those Who Help Themselves
When Christians withdraw from the world, they guarantee that the world becomes controlled not by Christians but by the people who do show up. Christians who withdraw guarantee their own persecution and the persecution of people like them. If communists show up, as they have in the Democrat party since the McGovern campaign of 1972, then they take over. If Muslims show up, as they have throughout Europe, then they take over. There is no cavalry coming over the hill to rescue Christians. Christians must take care of themselves.
George Santayana once wrote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” He wrote it as a musing on the tendency of those of advanced age to forget what they’ve already done and engage in repetitive, ritualistic behavior. But it had a much more universal meaning than he intended, as a lesson on the value of history to those who wish to know the best path forward in the difficult present.
What should Christians do?
It’s hard to say whether more Christians were killed by the USSR or Nazi Germany in the 20th century. Certainly of the 50 million who died in World War 2 many on both sides were Christian. And many of the 100 million who were killed by socialist and communist governments in the 20th century were Christian, especially in the USSR and its satellites, and in the various communist revolutions of South and Central America. But communism has a very good reason to be opposed to Christianity. Christianity promises that everyone can go to heaven after death, but that in the meantime every individual is free, and has free will, allowing he or she to own and keep property and live life as he or she sees fit. Communism on the other hand seizes all the individual property to be held by the state for the benefit of the people, which means mostly for the benefit of the rulers, and it as well orders the lives of every person in the communist state down to the details of what job they can have, who they may marry, to how many children they may give birth, and how to raise those children. There is no freedom in Communism, except for the government to act in any way it wants to control the people, who are defacto slaves. And as other governments approach the totalitarian level of control in communism, so they come into conflict with the freedoms offered by Christianity.
What should Christians do?
The Crusades are now popularly blamed for Muslim Jihad attacks, but somehow people have forgotten the historic reason for the Crusades, that the Christians of the Holy Land (modern Israel and Jordan) had been attacked and slaughtered in Islam’s spread from the Arabian peninsula through North Africa and even into Spain. Not only were many Christians killed or forced to convert, but the Muslim rulers of lands between Europe and Jerusalem had made the practice of robbing and murdering European pilgrims to Jerusalem so common that none were getting through and returning alive. The Crusades were prompted by persecution and predation upon Christians.
What should Christians do?
About One thousand, nine-hundred and seventy nine years ago on a Friday like today, a Rabbi, which is to say a teacher and wise man, named Jesus was convicted by a court of the Pharisees of preaching blasphemy. He was sentenced to death by crucifixion, and after he had been tortured, carried his cross up a mountain, and was nailed to it in the midday sun, a Roman soldier popularly believed to have been named “Longinus” shortened his suffering with his spear. He died. And He, as God the son of God, is the Christ who founded the church we Christians follow today.
What should Christians do? First, we suffer, as Christ our example suffered. Only after we suffer, we must throw off despair and act. But as the story of the Suffering Servant written in Isaiah says, God never promised us more than suffering in this world. So, suffer if we must. But never give up.
Christ son of God didn’t. In two days we will celebrate His resurrection.
13 See, my servant shall prosper;
he shall be exalted and lifted up,
and shall be very high.
14 Just as there were many who were astonished at him
—so marred was his appearance, beyond human semblance,
and his form beyond that of mortals—
15 so he shall startle many nations;
kings shall shut their mouths because of him;
for that which had not been told them they shall see,
and that which they had not heard they shall contemplate.
53:1 Who has believed what we have heard?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by others;
a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity;
and as one from whom others hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him of no account.
4 Surely he has borne our infirmities
and carried our diseases;
yet we accounted him stricken,
struck down by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions,
crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the punishment that made us whole,
and by his bruises we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have all turned to our own way,
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
8 By a perversion of justice he was taken away.
Who could have imagined his future?
For he was cut off from the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people.
9 They made his grave with the wicked
and his tomb with the rich,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him with pain.
When you make his life an offering for sin,
he shall see his offspring, and shall prolong his days;
through him the will of the Lord shall prosper.
11 Out of his anguish he shall see light;
he shall find satisfaction through his knowledge.
The righteous one, my servant, shall make many righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will allot him a portion with the great,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong;
because he poured out himself to death,
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.