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Where Complaints About Christian Persecution Fall Flat

Today is International Blasphemy Rights Day. Eight years ago today, a Danish newspaper published a dozen cartoons mocking Mohammed. 200 people died in the resulting protests in the Muslim world.

Fellow Patheos blogger Rebecca Hamilton writes often about international Christian persecution (her latest: “Christian Persecution: What Can We Do?”). Her outrage perplexes me, but let me return to that in a moment.

Persecution in the West

In the West, Hamilton admits, Christians aren’t being killed. Still, she says that they are being censored, mocked, reviled, harassed, silenced, marginalized, and forced to violate their faith.

She doesn’t make clear the insults that she’s talking about, so I can only guess. But let me be clear: I’m a strong supporter of free speech. Where a Christian can’t speak freely, neither can I. Where she shows me Christians denied the right to free speech, we’re on the same side. (But where Christians are being denied the “right” to impose their beliefs on others, I have no sympathy.)

Lord Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury, put claims of Christian persecution in the West in perspective:

I am always very uneasy when people sometimes in [Britain] or the United States talk about persecution of Christians. … I think we are made to feel uncomfortable at times. … But that kind of level of not being taken very seriously or being made fun of; I mean for goodness sake, grow up. …

Don’t confuse it with the systematic brutality and often murderous hostility which means that every morning you get up wondering if you and your children are going to make it through the day. That is different, it’s real. It’s not quite what we’re facing in Western society.

Third World persecution

Let’s return to Hamilton and her post about Christian persecution. She says:

According to the Center for the Study of Global Christianity, one hundred thousand Christians have died for their faith each year in the last decade.

No, that’s not quite what it says.

“Dying for your faith” brings to mind for me a pastor, calmly speaking his Christian truth, being attacked and beaten to death. Yes, this would fit, but it’s much broader than that. In fact, by their definition of martyrdom, anyone simply living as a Christian—whether or not they ever evangelized or even made public their Christianity—who was killed by “human hostility” counts as a martyr. This can be Christians dying in a Soviet prison camp or Nazi death camp, or killed during a war. They don’t have to be killed because they were Christians, they just have to be Christians and killed.

Hamilton goes on to marvel at this number, and, yes, it is huge. So huge, in fact, that I wonder where it comes from. Have I not been paying attention?

The number turns out to be almost exclusively from a ten-year period of violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo. A decent fraction of the 5.4 million people killed were Christians. Do a little math, and you get 100,000 per year.

The problem

Hamilton looks at this tragedy and is shocked and outraged at the deaths of one million Christians. But why is this the takeaway? Why not be shocked and outraged at the deaths of 5.4 million people?

I can only interpret her message to be, “A million of my people were killed! We must take action! (Yes, millions of non-Christians were killed as well, but I’m not much concerned about them right now.)”

Following her lead, I should be uninterested in this million Christians. They’re not my people, after all. I guess she’s pushing me to care only about atheists killed?

I’m confident that Hamilton would reject this interpretation. I don’t for a moment think that she cares nothing of the non-Christians killed. But then why does she write only about tragedies befalling Christians when the tragedies befalling people are much greater? I’m not a Christian, but I do fit in the category of “people.” Broadened in this way, her message would target everyone, not just Christians.

Take action!

And what action does she recommend? Prayer. No, I’m not kidding. Pope Francis recently encouraged Christians to pray for persecuted Christians, and that’s where she’s putting her money.

While prayer may help lift your burden of worry about tragedy around the world, I’ve seen no evidence that it will actually improve things on the ground. Isn’t that what you’re concerned about? In this instance, bearing that worry (instead of relieving it through prayer) might keep the pressure on us to find solutions in the here and now.

Christians think the entire world was created solely for them
in the same way that the Eiffel Tower was built solely to hold up a flag.
— Avicenna

Photo credit: Maksim

About Bob Seidensticker
  • Sven2547

    Ms. Hamilton is awfully fond of playing up the ‘Christian persecution’ angle. Of course, pressing her for specifics is a great way to get your comment deleted, followed by an angry tirade about what a bad person you are.

    Side note: I’m still waiting for her to issue a retraction for the misinformation she posted about pro-choice protesters allegedly bringing jars of feces and urine into the Texas capital building. Documents have shown these claims to be false. She even said “If they put up a retraction and I see it, I’ll be happy — very happy — to publish it here.”, but my requests for a retraction have also been met with deletion.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      I’m to the point, but I’m polite. Nevertheless, my comments (lately) haven’t not seen the light of day at her site. It doesn’t take many of those for me to take the hint. I don’t bother anymore.

      That’s a very limited definition of “free speech,” especially for a legislator who should value that more highly.

      • Derrik Pates

        The trouble is, so many in America have a stunted notion of “freedom of speech”, just like they have a stunted notion of “freedom of religion”. It doesn’t mean “I get to say whatever I want, and there should never be any consequences for my words, and I should never have to hear anyone express a contradictory opinion”. However, that seems to be what too many people, even many politicians, think “freedom of speech” is. If only we could fix that, maybe we could reach common understanding on some other issues too?

  • Y. A. Warren

    If more people actually understood what “Christ” means, we could have a whole new discussion. “Christ” means anointed. Assuming that most humans can choose a mission in life based on their being “anointed” with certain skills, I question how many people are not, in some small or large way, able to be a “Christ.”

    I see a great deal of people who call themselves “Christian” and say they are following Jesus that don’t seem to have make any attempt to actually be mentored by the stories of the methods of the (whether real or simply fantasy) man. To them I ask, “If you are Christian, who is your Christ?”

    The same can be said of any of those who purport to be religious. What commandments and examples are many of the Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Hari Krishnas, etc following?

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Wasn’t Cyrus the Great lauded as a messiah for his good work in freeing the Jews from Babylonian captivity?

      It’s interesting–”messiah” or “Christ” can refer to many people, but Christians today usually think of it as just one. Similarly, “anti-Christ” can refer to many people, but it’s often thought of as just one.

      • Y. A. Warren

        Clearly, we must reclaim the origin of the word Christian.” Cyrus the Great was known for human rights, as well as military strategy and politics. I believe all who seek a more just world are in some way a messiah of The Sacred Spirit on earth.

        Many who call themselves “Christian” are still following leaders of blood sacrifice, leadership by fear, revenge, and access to earthly riches and power as their personal “Christs.”

        We can choose which of the “anointed” we will follow, as long as we embrace human free will. I choose to follow a peaceful path, as exemplified by Jesus, Gandhi, and MLK, among others.

      • jejune

        Yes, which is why a woman recently had her child’s name forcibly changed from “Messiah” to something else.

        According to the judge, there can be only one “Messiah” and that is Jesus Christ.

    • Greg G.

      “Christ” means anointed.

      That brings up the question of the meaning of anointed. According to the great oracle, Wikipedia:

      To anoint is to pour or smear with perfumed oil, milk, water, melted butter or other substances, a process employed ritually by many religions.

      So Christianity is all about skin and hair products. How about that?

      • Y. A. Warren

        Very funny, but some “Christian” religions do use a lot of special liquids in their ceremonial anointings.

        • Kodie

          That doesn’t sound superstitious at all.

        • Y. A. Warren

          I know, right? The RC religion begins with brainwashing rituals even before babies are born. How powerful to convince vulnerable people that you control the keys to ETERNAL life and death.

        • Kodie

          The weird thing is the slathering on of oils in either your case or Greg’s – the promise of the oils! Snake oil is also an oil! But you missed the point about what being anointed means. You seem to imply that it’s something sacred and yet all it means is getting oiled up.

  • Jason

    Interestingly, the persecution of Christians under the Roman Empire is also something of a myth. It’s not that it didn’t happen sometimes (e.g. after Nero’s fire), it’s just that it wasn’t nearly as comprehensive and systematic as most Christians today think. This misconstrued ancient persecution is then used to reinforce the myth of contemporary persecutions (Obama is the new Nero since he’s pro gay marriage!).

    But doesn’t anyone care about all the polytheists who were persecuted in the ancient world after Rome converted to Christianity!?

    • http://avoiceinthewilderness-mcc1789.blogspot.com/ Michael

      Not only that, but some early Christians had a martyr complex, doing things to incite Romans into killing them, such as through disrupting law courts (judges could sentence people to death for that) and in the case of the Circumcellions, actively attacking people on the roads. Even this wasn’t enough for the latter, who took to jumping off cliffs en masse (suicide was not a sin in their view it seems).

  • jason

    By the way, anyone have any figures about the total number of people persecuted each year for being non-religious/atheist? I guess we have to define “persecution” first.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Of course, by the insanely broad definition of “martyr” used above (whatever your belief is, if you were killed, you were a martyr for that belief), the number might well be in a similar range.

      Personally, I’d prefer to count only people who are killed because they held worldview X. And that underscores the issue: the real tragedy in the world today is people killed, not killed because they were Christian or atheist or Hindu or whatever.

      I don’t begrudge anyone pointing out people killed for this or that belief, but let’s just remember the big picture.

      • Kodie

        Well, that’s what a hate crime is, and how it differs from other crimes. Targeting someone to kill because they are gay is different than killing someone who happens to be gay. A while ago, some cars in my neighborhood were scratched with swastikas. There is a Jewish temple on that street, but I’m not sure whose cars were marked were all Jews – it would be hard to tell, since with street parking, anyone can park anywhere they can find a space, and I’ve parked on that street sometimes. A person could be the victim of a hate crime against Jews without being Jewish.

        It depends on your goal. If it is to kill Christians, but many more are rounded up who aren’t Christians because they looked Christian or associated with Christians, I would count all of them as persecuted, even the non-Christians. If the goal was to kill everyone you see until you get to the border, then it’s likely some of them are Christians, but I wouldn’t count any of them as being persecuted on account of their beliefs.

      • Highlander

        I’d actually rather know the number of people killed because the killer was religious. Not very many people are killed because the murderer was ambivalent about god, but I think we’d see quite a few people who were ambivalent about god murdered by religious fanatics. People killed for religious reasons aren’t murdered because they believed a certain way, they are murdered because they didn’t believe the way their killer thought they should.

        • wtfwjtd

          Historically, it’s interesting to note that many, many times, when and where Christians have been persecuted, they are persecuted by…(drumroll please)….other Christians. It’s not that they were persecuted for their god belief, it’s just that they didn’t have quite the right flavor of god belief. Or something.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          To give you a taste of what they’re talking about, the links I provided talk about 15 million dying in Soviet prisons (again, that’s mostly people who just happened to be Christians, not people killed because they were Christians), the Rwanda genocide, the Sudan civil war (Darfur), and the Congo thing.

        • http://avoiceinthewilderness-mcc1789.blogspot.com/ Michael

          Funnily enough, in the case of the Rwandan genocide, *both* sides were Christian (specifically Catholic) and numerous Hutu clergy (such as priests or nuns) have been prosecuted for inciting or aiding the massacres. Is it still persecution of Christians when it’s other Christians doing the persecuting, and in this case, it isn’t even over religion?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Great point. And yet those Christians who died at the hands of Christians are still Christian martyrs, based on their odd definition.

          And, BTW, I’ve gotten no response from Rebecca Hamilton, though I Facebook-ed her to alert her to this post. (I think I’m beneath her and she doesn’t want to encourage me.)

  • Zeke

    “She doesn’t make clear the insults that she’s talking about, so I can only guess.”
    You could take the time to read her blog, but prepare to be underwhelmed. Invariably the subjects are Christians called out for discrimination against homosexuals, the “War on the Catholic Church” (because of the HHS mandate dontcha know), and of course any time someone successfully prevents the government from promoting Christianity over any other religion. Oh, and Roe v. Wade is a direct attack on the Catholic Church. Because Satan.

  • wtfwjtd

    These days, seeing an atheist billboard on the highway is “Christian persecution”. The term has been dumbed down so much it’s practically meaningless.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      or pushback against “In God We Trust” or against prayer in school or …

      • wtfwjtd

        I have yet to see a single verifiable instance of “Christian persecution” anywhere in the United States in the last year or two. And no, being forced to remove Christian propaganda from public property doesn’t count, not by a long shot. Am I just looking in the wrong place?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          She lists lots of scary words for what happens to Christians in the West, and I’m also at a loss.

          Hamilton is frantic about the whole Hobby Lobby thing, but that example is pretty far from persecution.

        • wtfwjtd

          Hobby Lobby? Pardon me if I’m not sympathetic on that one. Since when does illegally denying health care to employees qualify as “persecution”? Talk about getting it backwards! Looks like to me the employees are the ones being persecuted. Christian businesses have it SO tough, ’cause they gotta follow the same rules as everybody else! Oh, the horror!
          BTW, my wife use to shop at that place, but since they’ve gotten on their employee hate trip she won’t set foot in the place. You know how it is, right-wing folks make a big stink about how a zygote or a fetus is a “person”, but they do their damndest to deny that “person” health care once they’ve been born. You know, ’cause Jesus hated poor people. And babies. “Love the fetus, but hate the baby”.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Don’t you get it? They wanted to impose their religious beliefs on their employees, and now they can’t.

          Where will it stop? Next thing you know, they’ll be legally bound to treat everyone fairly based on race!

  • Ambaa

    Thank you! So true.

  • RandomFunction2

    To Bob the broken (yet fabulous) atheist,
    I agree that prayer is probably not a great solution to persecution. If you have a better suggestion, please say it. But make sure that your solution will not turn out to be worse than the problem.
    Besides, I do think that it’s important to stand up for free speech and religious toleration, even if we agree that more people are being killed for other, less conspicuous, reasons. We cannot solve all problems at the same time. And it’s understandable that as Christians, people will be concerned about the fate of their brothers and sisters in Christ… Muslims are more sensitive to islamophobia, Blacks to racism, women to sexism and homosexuals to homophobia.
    Is it any different from your idea of arguing against Christianity in a blog while there are lots of other pressing issues in your country and in the world (such as economics, gender inequality, endangered species, global warming, xenophobia, greed, and on and on)? You just happen to choose one area in which you have a particular interest and focus on it.
    And there are plenty of Christians working and speaking for other causes than religious toleration.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      If a single Christian is killed for no reason other than that he was a Christian, that is noteworthy. If that points to ways we can make sure it doesn’t happen again, great.

      It’s just that sifting through millions of deaths and deliberately highlighting only the fraction that are your own peeps sends precisely the wrong message. i’m sure that you, me, and Rebecca Hamilton reject the idea of “I care only about deaths within my own community,” but that is the message being sent.

    • Kodie

      Religious freedom is a weird topic, ok. Millions of people are not represented if Christianity has their way. None of the groups you gave as examples are imposing anything on other groups, except Christians. Christians think their rights are being diminished when they can’t have more than everyone else. Yes, there is some pushback, and most of the Christians’ complaints have to do with not being able to impose themselves illegally. Why wouldn’t that make people intolerant of them and their beliefs? They don’t like being told they’re oppressive and mean-spirited and selfish and arrogant. They don’t mind saying that every other group should know their place beneath (or under) Christianity. They don’t mind lying that there’s a gay “agenda” to expose homosexuality and turn kids gay, they don’t mind making up lies about the government forcing churches to marry gay couples, or spreading the lie that making a cake is participating and thus supporting a marriage they don’t approve of.

      Once you have to lie to stand up for your own rights, you are not fucking persecuted, you are the persecutors.

      • wtfwjtd

        Even a casual reading of the Bible highlights the fact that Christianity itself, with its authoritative Theocracy and patriarchal culture, is diametrically opposed to, and in many ways hostile to, modern, open, diverse democratic governments. I guess when you have to share the stage with women, gays, foreigners, and others modern Christians see as “not one of us”, the Grand Old Patriarchy goes from feeling “threatened” to outright “persecuted”. Boo Hoo….

        • Kodie

          But that’s supposed to be a feature! This world is just the thing you have to endure, and the harder you make it for yourself to adjust, the more awesome heaven is. There is even a gospel song, “I don’t want to get adjusted to this world”. (I prefer Fifty Miles of Elbow Room).

        • wtfwjtd

          I guess since one is supposed to be miserable in this world, one might as well make the best of it and force as many other people as possible to be miserable too! That will make heaven really extra special awesome, ’cause that’s what Jesus wants us to do!

        • RandomFunction2

          So… what was the point of Jesus healing diseases during his earthly life?

        • wtfwjtd

          A little snark thrown in there, RF2. Some people equate suffering and misery with a larger reward in heaven, even if it’s self-imposed. And then somehow convince themselves this is the way Jesus would want it.
          As for the point of Jesus healing people, the jury is still debating about this one. The verdict seems to be mixed–sometimes, he healed out of compassion, sometimes it was to make a point, and sometimes it was just plain showboating.

        • RandomFunction2

          At any rate, there is a Church Father, Ireneus, who said: the glory of God is living man (Gloria Dei homo vivens). I take that to mean that God is not in the slightest more glorified the more people are crushed.

      • RandomFunction2

        So… you claim to be telling us what ALL Christians are thinking and preaching? Quite a strong claim.
        I’d say you’re a bit too focused on the fundamentalists and on some Catholics and you are discarding the liberal Churches without further ado.
        Now, of course, Christians, as citizens, perfectly have the right to take a stand on political issues. Just as non-Christians do. And the ones who have the best arguments are supposed to win the debate.

    • jejune
      • http://avoiceinthewilderness-mcc1789.blogspot.com/ Michael

        This comic is so true, and I find it hilarious.

  • smrnda

    I see a trend in the States or privileged people arguing that they’re being ‘persecuted’ when they clearly have no idea that persecution is. It’s true that Christians get mocked, along with Mormons, Muslims, etc. in the States, but that’s not really persecution. Nobody is shutting down churches. All the same, you also have wealthy CEOs comparing outrage over their compensation to Black people being lynched. What’s the deal with all this faux persecution coming from people who clearly have power and privilege and influence?

    • Kodie

      Nobody likes being made fun of. It’s really hard in this world for a grown-up with an imaginary friend.

      • Derrik Pates

        If you don’t like your beliefs being made fun of, you should see about getting less funny beliefs, I say.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          In fact, I used that line on my atheist banner.

  • http://avoiceinthewilderness-mcc1789.blogspot.com/ Michael

    Privilege makes people blind, as ever. One note: Avicenna couldn’t have said that, since he lived centuries before the Eiffel Tower was built.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      This “Avicenna” is a blogger.

      • http://avoiceinthewilderness-mcc1789.blogspot.com/ Michael

        Ohh…my bad. *Facepalm*

  • Nemo

    Look at the places where Christians are persecuted today. You either get Muslim countries (which persecute pretty much EVERYBODY), or authoritarian regimes like China and North Korea, who, again, persecute pretty much everybody. I’m aware, for example, of a number of atheist bloggers in Muslim countries who were jailed by the authorities (which is probably a nice alternative to what their neighbors would have done to them).

    Now, within certain segments of American society, it is certainly true that there is hostility to Christian fundamentalism (Bible Bob, the guy who preaches “worship Jesus or burn in Hell” on my former campus, was reviled by many of the students), but there are other segments where openly being atheist is social suicide.

    • Carmen

      Hey I had Bible Bob at my campus! I remember once a feminist speaker came to the campus, and he stood in the back with his sign about burning in hell, and he repeated over and “witch, witch, witch….”

      • Nemo

        Bible Bob isn’t his actual name. It’s a nickname some of the students gave to him. I don’t know his actual name, but I think he’s a state trooper.

  • Nemo

    I checked out the link to the article, and one atheist asked about how they thought prayer would work. The answer completely dodged the question, stating that it would change the person doing the prayer.

    • Sam Black

      That was me! I guess my questions were innocuous enough that she approved my comment with a warning to her readers that they were about to get spammed by atheist trolls. I guess people of faith either never have those questions, they’re not allowed to ask them, or if they do they automatically become atheist trolls.

      Either way, the one answer to my questions failed to address my questions at all. I just want to know what kind of mileage the faithful get with their prayers. How many persecution deaths of christians are prevented with 10 minutes of prayer? Even the faithful should be interested in knowing just how their religious telepathy helps the cause.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

        I suppose it’s nice for Christians to play in a nice Christians-only sandbox, but this doesn’t prepare them much when they go out into the real world with all those filthy atheists. Y’know–the Great Commission and all that.

        • Nemo

          Bear in mind: the Great Commission isn’t for people like us. I, and I’m sure you as well Bob and Sam, know what Christianity teaches, what their claims are, what they believe. And we do not believe it. In the Christian worldview, we have made up our minds for Satan, and they shouldn’t cast pearls before swine.
          No, the Great Commission is for people who can be cornered on the street. People who don’t know much about any religious worldviews, and will be intimidated by threats of hell. People whose lives are at a bad point, and who have a psychological need for the heavenly promises that Christianity claims to offer.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          And note that the Great Commission wasn’t directed at ordinary Christians who’re told to get out there and fulfill it. The gospels make it clear that Jesus was talking to the disciples.

          It’s quite a bold move for an average-Joe believer to put himself in the ranks of Simon and Matthew and Peter and say that, no, it was meant for him, too.

        • wtfwjtd

          But darn it all Bob, Christianity needs promoting, like soft drinks. “Wouldn’t ya like to be a Pepper too?”

          Now, where have I heard that before? Oh, wait:

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/?s=pepper

    • UWIR

      It’s a reasonable answer, an explanation for a certain type of prayer. Perhaps that poster prays that way. Of course, it doesn’t explain prayer in general.

  • R Vogel

    It is interesting, I was perusing other blogs on this site and found one that talked about a number of ‘Christians’ killed in some foreign country and the blogger said, pointing out how media doesn’t understand religion, that most people’s first question would be to know which traditional (Catholic, Anglican, etc)! I was literally stunned. So it can goes even deeper than only caring about Christians being killed to only caring about your particular flavor of Christian!

    • R Vogel

      Here is the actual quote:

      However, this is one of the first questions that will many readers will ask, wanting to know if these martyrs are part of their own communion.

      About a church bombing in Pakistan.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      And if you want to know those specifics, the Gordon-Conwell link above has them. I imagine your questioner wasn’t the only one with the question.

  • R Vogel

    I love how the GDA study tries to head off the criticism:

    Although not all their circumstances would be considered “situations of witness,” we estimate that a substantial proportion of those who died meet our definition of martyr.

    At least enough to hit the magic 100,000 per year number….

  • wladyslaw

    I don’t think Rebecca’s statement of 100,000 Christians being persecuted last year is correct, and would agree that there is little real persecution in the west.

    There are two groups today suffering considerable religious persecutions: the Moslems with their Sunni-Shia conflicts (each considering the other heretics), and
    Christians.

    However, in the last TEN days,what other identifiable group has suffered as much real persecution as the Christians in the following cases. I gathered a few.

    http://tribune.com.pk/story/607734/fifteen-dead-in-suicide-attack-outside-peshawar-church/

    http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Maaloula-Christians-say-town-Muslims-took-part-in-attack-29131.html

    http://www.aina.org/news/20130926174039.htm

    http://tribune.com.pk/story/608273/rubbing-salt-into-wounds-protesting-christians-beaten-up-pastor-youth-go-missing/

    http://midnightwatcher.wordpress.com/2013/09/30/nigeria-at-least-15-christians-killed-after-muslim-gunmen-siege-village-burn-down-homes/

    http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Java:-Islamic-extremists-against-the-reopening-of-Saint-Bernadette-Parish-Church-29085.html

    If you would like, I could find out some more of the incidents in the last 30 days.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Rebecca’s claim was of 100,000 Christians killed for their faith. And note that she was focusing on the Third World, not the West.

      I’m not sure what the purpose of the links was. If you’re disagreeing with the post, make that clear.

      • wladyslaw

        I guess I wasn’t too clear. Yes, I didn’t think 100,000 Christians were killed for their “faith.”

        I wasn’t focusing on the west either. All the links I offered were persecutions going in the Third World right now–the last ten days.
        I don’t know if you clicked on any of them, but you would see that the

        Christians were killed for their “faith.”

        I think that if in the last TEN days six groups of atheists (some as large as 97 people) gathering at atheist conferences in the Third World were targeted BECAUSE they were atheists and blown up by suicide bombers, or burned, or stoned–and probably twice that many in the last 30 days–prominent atheists throughout the world–especially people like Dawkins–would certainly call attention to it if nobody in the West had taken note of it.
        And I think that even you Bob, even acknowledging your concern for all humans, would probably post a blog about it, denouncing it.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Have some Christians been killed for no other reason than that they were Christians? Sure. But it’s not 100,000 per year. Not even close.

          Conclusion: Christians, be a little more humble about how tough life is for you.

          As for your last paragraph, I don’t think you got the point of the blog. Yes, it’s bad that hundreds of people of worldview X (take your pick) were killed for being who they are. And y’know what’s worse? Thousands of just plain old people being killed. It’s kinda petty focusing on just the subset, no? And it completely undercuts the argument by sending precisely the wrong message to people who are not your peeps.

        • wladyslaw

          For the third time, I did not say 100,000 were killed because they were Christians.

          Yes, of course it is worse if thousands of just plain old people were killed instead of just some hundreds of world view X.
          But don’t deny that if six group of atheists were blown up in the LAST TEN days, you wouldn’t say, no big deal, it was just hundreds of atheists. You WOULD blog about it. Dawkins would let the world know about it. And I’m sure if I watched the next Michigan Atheist show on television they would be sure to mention it.

          In fact, when just ONE atheist is only put in prison somewhere in a moslem country for tweeting there is no God, the world hears about it and a move is made to help mitigate the punishment.

          Atheists in some Third World Countries are put to death–real persecution.

          On atheist sites I hear countless account of how bad atheists have it here in the west, how bad they’re persecuted by believers. Can I ask them to be a little humble about how tough life is for them?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          For the third time, I did not say 100,000 were killed because they were Christians.

          Since that was the point of the post, perhaps I can be forgiven for making that clear.

          But don’t deny that if six group of atheists were blown up in the LAST TEN days, you wouldn’t say, no big deal, it was just hundreds of atheists.

          I won’t. Because it would be unusual. But apparently, this is just another week for Christians.

          Atheists in some Third World Countries are put to death–real persecution.

          Obviously. Ditto for Christians.

          On atheist sites I hear countless account of how bad atheists have it here in the west, how bad they’re persecuted by believers. Can I ask them to be a little humble about how tough life is for them?

          Huh? You really think there’s a parallel here?? The frikkin’ motto of this country refers to your god. You’re fat and sassy—what are you complaining about? And that’s the point (or at least one of them). This is not parallel. We try to redress the balance and remove Christian privilege, and we never hear the end of it. What we hear instead is about Christian persecution.

        • wladyslaw

          Bob,

          “I won’t (deny blogging). Because it would be unusual.”

          If the number of atheists being killed throughout the world started becoming as common as the killing of Christians now, and increasing in tempo, as it is now happening with Christians, you would no longer bring it up in blogs? Nothing to bring up anymore? Just another week for atheists?

          Because it was no longer unusual?

          97 Christians killed by Moslems a few days ago–no outcry from atheists. It’s Islamophobia if you do bring it up. Or not news anymore.

          See what fellow atheist Patheos blogger says about the persecution of atheists. Why did he bring it up if it wasn’t hundreds of thousands?

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2012/11/23/the-economist-on-ex-muslim-atheists-a-bigger-sin-than-murder/

          Here’s what the Humanist Blog said about atheist persecution:

          http://blog.newhumanist.org.uk/2012/09/petition-in-support-of-imprisoned.html

          Atheist blogger Taslima Nasreen, was brave enough to challenge Islam when an atheist was imprisoned for saying God does not exist, wanting Islamists to stop persecuting atheists.

          http://freethoughtblogs.com/taslima/2012/11/24/atheists-are-harassedarrested-imrisoned-tortured-murdered/

          Here is what OMAHA ATHEISTS said about atheist persecution and what do about it.:

          http://www.omahaatheists.org/2013/04/25/atheists-imprisoned-in-bangladesh/Y

          You can check out The atheistconservative.com website, the atheistrev.com, the thinkatheist.com for their concern about atheist persecution. Even if hundreds of thousands of just people are being killed, they still blog about persecution of fellow atheists.

          Only Christians should stop blogging about persecution of Christians. Not so many as hundreds of thousands.

        • tyler

          i do not think your reading comprehension is up to par on this one. you appear to be arguing against the (wholly imaginary) position that christians are not persecuted internationally, or the (equally imaginary) position that christian bloggers shouldn’t blog about international christian persecution. you seem to have missed the actual takeaway, which is that many christian bloggers–and rebecca hamilton in particular–are absolutely awful at recognizing persecution and have an embarrassing tendency to hype up things to be persecution that simply… aren’t.

          for example, why did mrs. hamilton choose the 100,000 christians per year statistic–now thoroughly debunked as a case of christian persecution by bob–rather than one of the stories you linked? why do so many christians cry persecution at opposition to government endorsed prayer? why do so many christians cry persecution when a government official doesn’t pay lip service to jesus during an address? why do so many christians cry persecution when they are shunned and mocked for demanding the right to discriminate against gays, women, blacks, atheists, and minorities in general? why do so many christians cry christian persecution when one million christians are killed… during a genocide that killed five million people in an open and shut case of people persecution?

          these are examples that send the message that many christians barely consider non-christians human, much less deserving of attention in times of tragedy. “five million people died, but one million of them were probably christian and they’re the ones that matter!”

          I’m confident that Hamilton would reject this interpretation. I don’t for a moment think that she cares nothing of the non-Christians killed. But then why does she write only about tragedies befalling Christians when the tragedies befalling people are much greater?

          [emphasis mine]

          or, to rephrase that decidedly clumsy last sentence: “why does she write about tragedies befalling only christians when these same tragedies befall so many non-christians as well?”

          it’s just tribalism.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Nice. I could’ve saved myself a rebuttal if I’d read this first.

        • wladyslaw

          “why does she write about tragedies befalling only christians when these same tragedies befall so many non-christians as well?”

          “it’s just tribalism.”

          Rebecca was WRONG about the 100,000 figure.

          Rebecca wrote about the tragedies befalling only Christians when these same tragedies befall so many non-christians as well, for the SAME reason that Hermant Mehta, Talisma Nasreem, Freethought Blog, OmahaAtheist Blog, AtheisticConswervative Blog and other atheist sites wrote about atheists being persecuted or imprisoned by Moslems around the world.

          It’s their tribe, and I fully support them in trying to bring it to the world’s attention.

          Hermant Mehta, to his credit, did say:

          We complain about Christians overstepping their boundaries in the U.S.
          all the time, but seeing what those atheists are up against puts it all
          in perspective.

          I’m not sure how to check this out, but I would think that none of these bloggers, writing about their tribe being persecuted, had written a blog decrying the genocide going on in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          So “Well, atheists do it, too!!!” is your argument?

          The point of my post was that pointing to harm against people is more powerful than pointing to harm against my peeps. Do you find that hard to agree with?

        • wladyslaw

          Absolutely, pointing to harm against people is more powerful than pointing to harm against my “my peeps.” The point of your post.

          That certainly didn’t stop Hermant Mehta and the other atheistic bloggers to point out what is happening to persecuted atheists in the Moslem world–their peeps.

          And it shouldn’t stop Christian bloggers from blogging about what is happening to persecuted Christian in the Moslem world.

          I fully support them in doing so. They absolutely should continue to do so.

          But apparently, according to you only pointing to harm against people is more powerful.

          BTW, Christians would still bring up the persecutions–even if atheits didn’t.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          You’re furious about Hemant? Go tell him. You’re wasting our time here.

        • wladyslaw

          NO, I praised him earlier for talking about both the persecutions of Christians and the persecution of atheists.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          ?? And you complained about him just now, remember?

          “That certainly didn’t stop Hermant Mehta and the other atheistic bloggers to point out what is happening to persecuted atheists in the Moslem world–their peeps.”

        • wladyslaw

          No, I noted that your thoughts about “Pointing to harm against people is more powerful than pointing to harm against my “my peeps.”is not shared by Hermant Mehta and others atheist bloggers. I applaud them for blogging about their peeps.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          You’re praising him without complaining about him–or is it complaining about him without praising him?

          I’ve lost count. And interest.

        • tyler

          writing about persecution is all well and good but writing about persecution where it does not exist is stupid, tribal, and counterproductive to a more positive and inclusive world. by all means, write about how christians are being repressed and killed in muslim nations because christianity conflicts with the state religion. do not, however, write about how the weather is now persecuting christians because a tornado swept through a town with a significant christian population.

          i must further state that your insistence that atheist bloggers have a habit of doing the same thing is flawed in many ways. you use the example of atheists being imprisoned–because they are atheists. the complaint is that certain christian bloggers make a habit of declaring christian persecution where the tragedy is not people being attacked because of their christianity. persecution is not “this bad thing happened to these people!” persecution is “this bad thing happened to these people because they were these people!” it is human and good to look at a tragedy that befalls your fellow christian and feel empathy. it is tribal to use that tragedy to build some sort of group persecution complex.

          all of this leads me to believe that you have little understanding of what you are arguing about, and that you are slinging these arguments around primarily to defend the above mentioned group persecution complex.

        • wladyslaw

          Check out all the posts I cited earlier and see what happened to Christians in the last TEN days in the Moslem world because they were Christians. I could cite many more in the last 30 days. Those Christians are not suffering from a “group persecution complex.” They are actually being burned and stabbed and blown up. It isn’t paranoia when it’s actually happening to report it.

          And I don’t believe that Herman Mehta and all the other atheist sites I mentioned are building a group persecution complex by reporting abuse of atheists. There simply reporting something very important about their peeps.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Unless the articles you’ve found dramatically understate the actual deaths of Christians, there are more Christians killed here in the U.S. by car accidents.

          Which isn’t to say that Christians killed for who they are isn’t a problem. I just want us to keep it in perspective.

        • tyler

          and all of those stories hold up well enough without the addition of other made-up stories of persecution. muslims blowing up a church in the middle east? persecution. principal isn’t allowed to lead the audience in the lord’s prayer at a public school graduation? not persecution. getting riled up about the former is right and justified. getting riled up about the latter is a persecution complex. if you honestly don’t believe that such complexes are widespread in many christian communities then you are probably in denial.

          complaints of christian persecution fall flat because some high-profile christians seem hell-bent on cheapening the word “persecution” to near-meaninglessness.

          again, you appear to have no idea what you are arguing for or against. you would probably be best served by dropping the subject entirely.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          you would no longer bring it up in blogs? Nothing to bring up anymore? Just another week for atheists?

          ?? I made this clear, and surely we’re on the same page here. If the number jumped up, that would obviously be startling news. If it always was a high number, that would be important to bring up (which Rebecca was going for, though she got her numbers way off) just to remind us all of the ongoing tragedy.

          The number of people killed on U.S. roads per week is roughly 800. That’s not news (indeed, it’s gotten better in recent decades), but it’s important to bring up occasionally. Same deal.

          97 Christians killed by Moslems a few days ago–no outcry from atheists.

          Yes, it’s a bad thing. No, this isn’t what the post was talking about.

          Here’s what the Humanist Blog said about atheist persecution:

          The press is already full of stories about Christian persecution. Perhaps atheists can be forgiven if they try to redress the balance.

          Only Christians should stop blogging about persecution of Christians.

          Maybe you have me confused with someone else. This doesn’t address the point I made in this post. Better go back and reread.

        • wladyslaw

          “The press is already full of stories about Christian persecution.
          Perhaps atheists can be forgiven if they try to redress the balance.”

          I really don’t think atheists are trying to redress any balance.

          They simply care about what is happening to atheists throughout the world. And they blogged their concern, knowing that other more horrendous atrocities are still going on.

          Just curious, did YOU post a blog on the horror that happened in the Democratic Republic of Congo? Ruwanda?

          “But then why does she write only about tragedies befalling Christians when the tragedies befalling people are much greater? I’m not a Christian, but I do fit in the category of “people.” Broadened in this way, her message would target everyone, not just Christians.”

          This isn’t the point of your blog?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I really don’t think atheists are trying to redress any balance.

          You’ve great at looking up articles. In your travels, you haven’t seen atheists complaining about Christian privilege?

          I’ve written about that myself with that monument in Florida.

          Just curious, did YOU post a blog on the horror that happened in the Democratic Republic of Congo? Ruwanda?

          No. Nor did I post about deaths to atheists only.

          Why? Is there a contradiction here?

          This isn’t the point of your blog?

          You can’t even figure out the point of this post.

          I’ll type slower. Maybe that’ll help. If you say, “Billions of my people are killed daily!” then you appeal to your people. Not only does this not address those who are not “my people,” not only does it give the message “you should only care about your own people,” but it misses the clear opportunity to be inclusive and speak about injury to all people.

          Inclusive > partisan. Get it?

        • wladyslaw

          OK, then please tell all YOUR atheist blogger friends the same thing–please stop talking talking about atheist persecutions. There are billions of people killed daily!

          It’s inclusive>partisan.

          I think the atheist bloggers should continue to point out atheist persecution, even if what they are doing is inclusive and partisan.

          And so should Christians continue–or any other persecuted group, even if it is inclusive and partisan.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          OK, then please tell all YOUR atheist blogger friends the same thing

          I think I just wrote a blog post about it.

        • wladyslaw

          Can you please share the blog post with me. The present post is titled “Where complaints about CHRISTIAN persecution fall flat.” This blog specifically address a Christian blogger being inclusive. Doesn’t address allbloggers with peep concerns. By the way, most of YOUR blogs are about your peep concerns, despite all the non-atheistic horror in the world.

          Show me a blog that says something like “Where complaints about atheist persecution fall flat.”

          O r something like that.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          This blog specifically address a Christian blogger being inclusive. Doesn’t address allbloggers with peep concerns.

          And yet it does.

          By the way, most of YOUR blogs are about your peep concerns, despite all the non-atheistic horror in the world.

          You’re getting to be a waste of time, aren’t you?

          When my posts could be made significantly more powerful by being more inclusive, let me know. ’Cause that was the point here.

        • wladyslaw

          OK, I think your posts would be significantly more powerful if you you didn’t spend the majority of your posts talking about the problems you see with religion. Is that all atheists can talk about? How about if you write about atheist concerns half the time. They certainly aren’t the most important concerns in the world.

          Christian sites may talk about the problems with atheism sometimes, but certainly is not a focus of their most of their sites. Check the Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, Pagan sites on Patheos, and see for yourself.

  • guck mal

    Whats even better about the “100.000 Christians being killed every year” number coming from Rwanda – was that they were killed by other Christians. Rwanda is 94% Christian, 3,7% Muslim, and the genocide perpetrated in 94 was supported by the local bishops and priests of the dominant religion – catholicism.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Yeah, but that doesn’t count. Or something.

  • Ron

    Don’t Christians read their own Bibles?

    Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

    Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven.” ~Jesus, Sermon on the Mount

    We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance.” ~Paul, The “Visionary” Apostle

    Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” ~James, Jesus’ brother

    But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God.” ~Peter, aka “The Rock”

    Suffering is a good thing. Christians like Ms. Hamilton should be rejoicing.

  • Richard Hollis

    While I think the painting is clever and very good – it doesn’t really look like a Muslim. It looks like a Sikh.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Wait … is Muslim not simply “guy who wears turban”? Hmm. This is more complicated than I thought.

      • Richard Hollis

        My sarcasm-o-meter is going doo-lally, but in seriousness, no, muslims do not wear turbans.

        Than would be like depicting Brazilians in cowboy stetsons.


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