Real vs. Fake Christian Persecution: how you can spot the difference

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One of my biggest pet peeves in this world, is when folks in my tribe play the “persecution” card.

On one hand, we can’t help it– we’ve been programmed to label any negative experience related to our faith in the category of “persecution”. However, we should know better– and should know that this is actually hurting the Christian reputation in America.

I remember being well primed to interpret any negative push-back I might receive for “witnessing”, as we were warned about the coming persecution during campfire services at Christian summer camp. I still remember sitting around a campfire in Schroon Lake, New York and hearing: “Don’t worry– when you get back home you won’t have to leave your unsaved friends. When you get home, they’re going to leave you.”

test-di-rorschachIn fact, I remember “Blessed are you when you are persecuted” to be one of the first verses a camp counselor had me memorize.

Ugh. In American Christianity we love persecution.

Like a Rorshach test, we are able to see it anywhere we look.

We are so culturally programmed that there “will be persecution” that we develop a persecution complex which causes us to look at any given ink blot and see an intriguing case of anti-Christian discrimination.

What is most sad to me, is that this is hurting the message of Jesus– a beautiful message that I want everyone to hear and experience. However, because of our persecution complex we are often seen as cry-babies– who are constantly crying “Wolf!” no less. As a result, a lot of people are turned off to Christian culture, and by default turned off to actually wrestling with the message of Jesus.

Yet, have no fear– I am here to help. Today, I’m going to give you a quick and easy walk through of some real scenarios that will help you gauge whether or not you are actually being persecuted for your Christian beliefs.

Persecution Test

Lesson 1:

  • In Odisha, India, some villages have banned Christians from buying or selling in their local markets as well as banning them from getting drinking water from the local well (forcing them to drink non-potable water from the river). When the Christians have rebuffed this prohibition and used the common well anyway, they have been chased down by angry mobs and severely beaten. If this is happening to you– if your neighbors are telling you that you can’t shop at Target because you are a Christian and that you can’t draw your water from the town’s aquifer because of your faith (and beat you mercilessly when you take a sip), there is a good chance that you are experiencing legitimate Christian persecution.

In contrast:

  • annoying-co-workerIf your co-workers leave the break room when they see you coming, no longer invite you to happy hour, and generally walk in the opposite direction when they see you coming due to the fact they are tired of you forcefully trying to convert them in every conversation… you are not experiencing anti-Christian persecution. Instead, you are simply being persecuted for being annoying. Don’t like it? Good news– the persecution for being annoying will stop as soon as you decide to no longer be annoying.

 

 

Lesson 2:

  • If you are a member of the Christian clergy and find yourself kidnapped, beheaded, and the next day find a video of your beheading posted on YouTube, I think you have a legitimate case of anti-Christian persecution. In fact, unless you signed a model release before your execution, you should be able to get YouTube to take the video down.

In contrast:

  • what-to-do-with-bad-coworkers-i15If you are a non-commissioned officer in the Army and find yourself receiving a reprimand because your non-stop, anti-gay statements are making your co-workers utterly miserable, you are not experiencing anti-Christian persecution. Instead, you are being persecuted for updating your Facebook status with: “Lordy, Lordy, it’s faggot Tuesday. The lefty loons and Obamabots are out in full force” (As in the recent case of Master Sergeant Nathan Sommers). When you post nasty, offensive status updates, persecution is a natural byproduct.

Lesson 3:

  • If you are holding a quiet prayer meeting when police decide to raid your home, confiscate your books, and throw you in prison for being a Christian (as happened in Iran to Robert Asserian), you might have a pretty convincing case of anti-Christian persecution. If they keep arresting you over and over, and beat you senseless each time, the case becomes more and more convincing that you are in fact, the victim of persecution.

In contrast:

  • hers_n_hersIf you are facing a massive fine and a lawsuit because you didn’t want a lesbian couple to buy flowers from your shop to have at their wedding, you aren’t facing anti-Christian persecution. You are simply being persecuted for illegal discrimination, and for being a hypocrite. You do know, that at most weddings there’s a couple of drunk people, and that the Bible is quite clear that’s wrong, correct? You must also be aware, that sometimes Christians marry non-Christians (forbidden in scripture), and that some couples (SPOILER ALERT!) have had sex before marriage, which is also condemned in scripture, correct? So, if you have decided that you’re not going to sell flowers to gay people, but that you’ll still allow your flowers to be purchased for events that will include drunkenness and heterosexual fornication, you my friend, are a hypocrite. What you’re experiencing isn’t so much persecution, as it is justice.

 

I think the reason why the American Christian persecution complex troubles me so much is because there is plenty of real persecution going on in the world. Yet, when we take negative push-back we receive as a result of our own arrogance, insensitivity, and hostility– and call that persecution– we cheapen and detract from the real examples of religious persecution in the world.

When Christians who are being thrown in prison or beheaded are overshadowed by stories of American Christians who get in hot water because their public business discriminates, or because they’ve made their co-workers miserable, we become guilty of self-centered arrogance.

Being persecuted for our faith is different than being persecuted because we’re acting like jerks.

 

If you are a Christian in America and frequently feel persecuted, please do us both a favor and examine your own behavior and communication style. Are you accosting people with your views? Are you treating friends and co-workers like objects to be converted instead of people to love? If so, you’re doing it wrong– and you are experiencing justified push-back, NOT persecution.

And, even if you do face some legitimate persecution, just remember– as long as you still have your head on your shoulders, it’s not as bad as what others face.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Mario Rodgers

    As a former Christian, I can’t say I’ll miss the whole enchilada. Except maybe the food. To be “Christ-like”, if such a way possibly exists, is just to be a human being. What need does a person to acquire a sense of entitlement called “being saved”? What desire does a person to condemn others to some fictional realm of the afterlife called “hell”?

  • NStormRider

    Being a human being is involuntary. You don’t get to strip membership in the human race from screw-ups.

  • Dave The Sandman

    Great article there mate and wonderful to read an actual reasoning Christian sounding off about all this fake outrage for once. Couple of issues though with the pictures:
    1) The one of the Christians being eaten by lions at the top. Yeah…. didnt really happen as much as it is supposed to have according to recent research covered in the press last year. Turns out it may just have been a couple of particularly sick shows thrown by Nero.
    2) That picture at the bottom next to Mr Crockoduck Cameron – the one showing a “Christian” being beheaded by Muslim extremists. Again that’s not what it says it is. Its a still from a video that originated in Syria of a group of anti-government militia men executing a man they said was fighting for the government side. (They were wrong as it turns out). Thing is they are Muslims and so is he. Seems some less than honest Christians got hold of it and started falsely circulating it, and it went viral even after the source and “Muslim on Muslim violence” content was verified and the Christian beheading story was utterly refuted.

  • HiHoSilver

    I’m not a Christian but I agree with what you’re saying. Plus – I love the pic of Kirk Cameron at the end who must’ve been the biggest douche in the film industry when he shunned his cast members during Growing Pains because of his newly found religion. Another excellent case of faux persecution.

  • MoodyMoody

    Hobby Lobby’s objections aren’t even to abortion but to contraception. (Yes, I know it objects to abortion as well, but I don’t believe ACA requires abortion coverage, only contraception coverage.) I 100% agree that the CEO is trying to control the private lives of his employees.

  • readerdeb

    Just a quick correction: it was a wedding for two gentlemen, not two lesbians as stated in the link above, that caused the flower shop in Washington state to be sued by our Attorney General. I live in the community where this occurred, and I have to say the issue is a pretty hot topic around here. I, and many others around here, have chosen to boycott the flower shop in question.

    Thank you for being a voice of reason and love in the Christian community. As an atheist freethinker, I keep coming back to your column for a breath of fresh air!

  • thepixinator

    Number one is spot on! (Really, they all are). This ex-coworker used to come accost me at my desk and ask me if Jesus Christ was my lord and savior, even after I told her repeatedly I was raised Presbyterian – like that even matters! I should have been able to tell her I was an atheist and to back off, or whatever, but it was one of those places that people had worked at forever, and I was a newbie, and Lord, it was just Hell. Funny how Christians can actually make others so miserable in their attempts to “spread the good news.” Good news would have been never hearing about anything but work at work. There should be a law against religious harassment in the workplace. Dear God, please save me from your followers!

  • meekinheritance

    There are applicable laws against harassment. Check with your H.R. department. It sounds like you’re in a “hostile work environment”.

  • thepixinator

    Sadly, that company shut down (one of the last of the U.S. apparel manufacturers), but I thought about it at the time!

  • DB

    hmmmm facist much?

  • Tina Shontz

    What if I agree that you can believe whatever you want, and agree that I may be going to Hell, but it’s MY business, and I ask you to cease and desist? If I’m a sinner, you should be praying for me, not preying ON me (especially in a place of business — anyone who harangues people at work — about anything — should be fired).

  • http://differentcloth.blogspot.com/ jeff stewart

    In light of what’s happening in Nigeria – contrasted with “free speech” in ‘Murka.

  • http://www.mikemchargue.com/ Mike McHargue

    As a Christian Humanist, I have tried to explain this to my more conventional Christian friends many times. Thanks for sharing this sentiment.

  • CassandraJK

    Cystic fibrosis is a metabolic disease affecting the lungs – I believe you meant cerebral palsy, which can cause physical tremors and dyskinesia.

  • Dan Weeks

    Correct. As an atheist, I find myself making these very same arguments in “discussions” with fanatics of every denomination. It’s refreshing to see this level of reason from the other side. If only the majority of Christians were like Mr Corey here, I don’t think there’d be such a rift between faith and reason in this country.

  • Divdar

    You don’t have to be from a denomination to be a fanatic. There are plenty of non-religious, atheist fanatics as well. People aren’t any different whether they are religious or not. We all have the same faults.

  • Dan Weeks

    Incorrect. People are very different, especially if they’re religious or not. The person who argues for reason and science is very very different than the person who holds up God Hates Fags signs at soldiers funerals.

    But you’re right in that all people have the same kind of faults. Being an atheist makes a person no more automatically good or better than being religious. That being said, can you give me an example of an atheist fanatic? I’m wondering who you’re basing your prejudices on.

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com/ Benjamin L. Corey

    You don’t think that your side has fundamentalists as well? You guys have the same exact problem as my side has.

  • Dan Weeks

    I’m afraid I disagree with you there, Mr. Corey, with all due respect. But you might be right. I did ask the gentleman above to name an atheist fanatic, just to maybe gauge what he and you mean by “atheist fundamentalist,” a term I’ve never heard of.

  • Dan Weeks

    2 months and no reply…

    Ah well. Take all the time you need.

  • NStormRider

    I know enough engineers (some of which are Rocket Scientists) to state with authority:

    I wouldn’t want one as President. And most wouldn’t want to BE President.

    An actor has specialized themselves in being able to empathize with and portray a wide variety of people, and control their presentation in public and in private. A SUCCESSFUL actor likely has the ability to impress quickly and well, and maintain a wide array of connections. A rocket scientist, on the other hand, understands properties of materials and aerodynamics incredibly well. However, his primary focus is on precision and repeatability, not communication and networking.

    The job of president is one of social authority and decision making. It
    is not a number crunching game, and the right decision for the country
    isn’t made by balancing an equation. The only reason to prefer a rocket scientist to an actor is a biased and uninformed faith in the quality of their career choices.

  • B33b3

    As someone that works at Hobby Lobby, and has heard many statements about the lawsuit, I am in a position to tell you that, there was NEVER any intention of closing Hobby Lobby, nor was there ever a point in which it might have happened. In fact thousands of new stores and warehouses are being opened in just the Midwest alone. Hobby Lobby closing was a myth, and there are plenty of statements given out to every single employee numerous times.

  • wordaddict

    I won’t disagree that he’s making Christians look bad, but it’s not anyone’s place to say he’s not Christian.

  • wordaddict

    As someone raised Christian, I can tell you that if you think your faith is about *making* people follow the letter of the law, about selling cosmic fire insurance, or all about the “immorality of homosexuality”, you’ve missed the whole point of Jesus’s sacrifice.

  • The Father Teresa

    The writer is still affected by the camp fire teaching.

    Note that he still called all the reactions to x-tian ass-holery as “persecution.

  • Jennifer Wilson Basinger

    The issue isn’t with birth control it is with the TYPE of birth control, abortifactant vs. conception preventative. They are against providing the former and do provide the latter. I personally know that Hobby Lobby provides excellent health care options to their employees.

    “The Greens, anevangelical Christian family that owns Hobby Lobby, and the Hahns, a Mennonite family that owns Conestoga Wood, offer employee health coverage that complies with the Affordable Care Act in every way but one: Faith forbids them from paying for contraceptives that can cause early abortions, such as the morning-after pill. Because they do not cover four of 20 FDA-approved contraceptives, HHS seeks crippling penalties on their businesses.” http://www.marshfieldnewsherald.com/article/20131221/MNH06/312210066/

  • Jenni W

    However, the CEO of Hobby Lobby seems to want to reserve the right to deny coverage of the morning after pill because he BELIEVES it to be an abortifactant and it is not. He wanted to claim that because he believes a drug to do something it does not, he should be allowed to deny his employees the choice to use the drug– he believes he knows better than his employees and their doctors, partners, parents or even the drug manufacturers because of his Christianity.
    You should know, Jennifer, that the morning after pill does not cause abortions. If a woman is already pregnant, the morning after pill has no effect on the pregnancy or fetus. It’s basically a very high dose estrogen pill. Unfortunately, people like Mr. Green would rather spread misinformation than cover preventative birth control for his employees.
    Anyway, it just irks me when these bigger cases result in the further spread of lies and misinformation– it seems to be the point, and since the morning after pill is NOT an abortifactant no matter what you believe, this really is a case of the CEO exerting control over his employees’ contraceptive choices. Odd that he does not seek a ban on condoms. Just the kind of contraceptives that women can control for themselves…

  • lanceburson

    Being a lefty Christian in the Deep South isn’t as difficult as I think it is, but it’s extremely annoying. This post represents how I feel 100 percent. Thanks for being in my head and heart.
    Merry Christmas
    Lance aka @lanceburson on the twitter

  • Ian Nairn

    Judging by this article you would say that the early Christians who lost their livelyhood for being Christian weren’t being persecuted. We are very close in some countries in the West to see that happening and from there worse will happen. While our persecution in the West if far different from those who are either getting killed or threatened to be killed for their faith, we are actually not to far from that they way the West is falling

    There are different levels of persecution and you don’t have to be at threat of your life to be persecuted. I mean the Jews weren’t straight away put into gas chambers and killed for them to be persecuted under the NAZI Regime. The first sings of persecution were rather quite innocent, but they became further severe as time went on. While what is happening in the West is the worst kind of persecution, persecution has to start somewhere. I guarantee that within five years we will see Christians losing their jobs for their beliefs and you here whine about the so called non persecution and by the time it is time to talk up about persecution, it will be too late for you to say anything.

  • A. Lee

    You make a fair point; I agree, it’s not as if everything short of being decapitated over one’s faith is not persecution. The author’s point still stands though, in that a lot of the things that fundamentalists claim to be persecution are simply the reactions to them being close-minded and over-zealous. We have to use our discernment in regards to this sort of thing. For instance, what kind of examples make you think that “we are actually not too far from that they way the West is falling”?

  • Battynurse

    Great post. So much of your descriptions of your childhood resemble mine. Factor in that and multiple relatives who refuse to even acknowledge my existence (including my mom) and I have a hard time with religion. It’s nice to read a perspective from a Christian who is not loudly proclaiming how everyone has to be just like them.

  • jamesleeland

    Jesus Christ was clearly warning Christians to be Alert and Watch. He is clear that Christians will be marked for extermination, by State Authority,World Wide.

    This is indeed,The Tribulation, in the years before Jesus’s Return, True Christians are the obstacle stopping the Plan. A transhuman agenda elite declaring itself God, claiming War God Omnipotence over every Human Life, engaged is Satanic conspiracy. It begins with massive depopulation of America and all Nations – thru war, starvation, disease and environmental catastrophe. The Elite believe that they will soon achieve Immorality and are in conspiracy to kill most of the Worlds Population within a Generation, The stage is set for The Beast to appear soon. True Christians understand that these events herald The Anti Christ who assumes Power to become God while with the intention of exterminating Christians and all Mankind.

    The Tribulation refers to the years when these events take place, leading up to his Jesus Final Return and the rapture of The Martyred. The Christians alive during the tribulation, perhaps now, are never raptured. They are here to witness during the Great Harvest of Souls. The full, terrible, unimaginable nightmare of Satanic Ritual Mass Sacrifice will become reality, ONLY then will Jesus Return – Stopping the complete extinction of humanity.

    All Christians can do is be Alert and Watch, as Jesus instructed, during these last days. Its all In the original Gospel of Mark, c. 70 A.D. as as close as we can get to The original Words of Jesus, himself, without any filter.

    It is clear that Christians will be hunted by the State, around the Globe.

    Christians will be rounded up, and executed for their
    Faith. Its happening now in the Middle East now and will spread to
    Europe, The West and America. Understand The Rapture happens when he Returns. The Rapture deception is allowing American Christian Church’s the leverage needed to make money while supporting The Beast System in place today. But deceived or not, American Christians will, like their current brethren overseas, be rounded up as Jews were during the Holocaust.

    When enough will follow the engineered conditions, The Tribulation, the complete extermination of all Christians on Earth, will begin.

    So few realize that the The Bible and The Christian Religion were hijacked from the start.

    Inquisitions to crusades, the Church was corrupted, Satanic agendas and Evil Men in Jesus Name committed sinful atrocities, in direct defiance of Jesus Commandments. Because the Bible includes hidden codes, astrology, borrowed ancient mythology, plagiarism and fabrications added – some discount the New Testament Central Message. The Essence of Jesus Message is Simple:

    “…One of them, a lawyer,
    asked him a question, testing him. “Teacher, which is the
    greatest commandment in the law?”

    Jesus said to him,
    “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your
    heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great
    commandment. A second
    likewise is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ The whole law and the prophets
    depend on these two commandments.”

    Matthew 22:34-40

    LOVE GOD AND LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR – that’s what True Christians stand for.

    THE ONLY RELIGION JESUS SAID GOD ACCEPTS, IS THIS

    Pure and undefiled religion before God and
    the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, to
    keep oneself unspotted from the world.

    AND THE ONLY RELIGION JESUS GOD ACCEPTS

    Real Christians Practice Benevolent Love to All
    People regardless of their past or present. All are equal sinners
    before God and with Free Will anyone can decide to follow the Central Commandments To Love God and Love Everyone.

    Christs example would mean the end of this current
    system and is therefore a threat to The Elite. Once you remove
    Christianity, the industrial killing of dissidents becomes permissible
    and necessary to preserve the State.

    Our Salvation in Christ is all we have when The Lawless One can declare
    Omnipotent Power over everyone on Earth. All who are declared extremist will be classified as Enemies of the State – The falsely accused need not be found guilty because the new meaning of due process, is state sponsored liquidation.

    The Elite have declared the Power to eliminate
    anyone accused of extremist potential, as revealed here,
    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/feb/05/obama-kill-list-doj-memo

    True Christians are Thankful and Alert. They are Benevolent in Action and Perceive Truth from Deception, because of Salvation from Evil. That is why they are Hated by the World.

  • AmericaRising1

    You sir Benjamin Corey are my favorite Christian blogger ever. Thank you for your insight and for helping to change my views on so many different issues. You are awesome!

  • A. Lee

    Have those things personally happened to you, or to people you know? Or are they things that have happened to other people, or can happen? Not asking as a loaded question, just out of curiosity.

  • A. Lee

    You’ve said that “any attempt to silence the truth is persecution.”
    Do you aknowelge that other religions exist?
    Do you recognize that all other religions believe themselves to be the only true religion, just as you do with yours? And that they all have their own prophecies, stories, holy texts and personal experiences to support that belief, like you do?
    If so, then how could you possibly assert that your religion is so objectivly “the truth” that anyone who does not activly believe in it is persecuting you? That’s where fundamentalists differ from the rest of Christianity. (Of course, if you believe that you have an objective reason or evidence that tells you fundamentalist Christianity is the truth, I ernestly welcome you to share it with us, and allow us to test it so we can hold fast to what is good).

  • Heather Lee

    Beautifully said! Thank you for attempting to shed some light on the differences.

  • Steven Waling

    And I once had a book of his that claimed Marx was a Satanist because he had a big beard…

  • David

    I appreciate the main gist of this argument, and have had this conversation before. However, you’d be a bit more effective if you were a little more fair in your representation of the opposite side. You will only convince those who are already convinced by the use of sarcasm and patronizing. If you want to convince those who do not already agree with you, you’re going to need to be a bit more cool-headed. Unless you could care less about reaching people and you just want to post a tirade, then be my guest. I enjoy reading it. But if you want to make a difference in people’s lives (and not just tickle the ears of those who are already on your side) you could utilize a bit more civility. I am by no means suggesting that the falsehood that resides in popularly recognized fundamentalism is “ok” or “something that should be tolerated.” Just giving some tips on how to actually change their minds and promote truth and unity in Christ rather than promote and praise division and dis-harmony – just like fundamentalists do.

  • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

    Here’s the thing, Its not a Christian matter, its a people matter. Its about kids all over the world who need medicine, clean water, education and a safe place to live. Its about people all over the world who want to help children like that, and who are being kept out because of some ridiculous notion that they aren’t good enough because of their orientation, their religious choice, or because of their belief in equality for all who get are walking around on this planet.

    It’s frustrating for those who are repeatedly told, “go away, you offend me” when all they want to do is help. Its tragic when idealism trumps compassion, and its maddening when we are told to be peaceful and quiet about it all, while marginization, opression, homelessness, hunger, death, pain, mourning, injustice rage on.

    Sometimes you do need to get angry…sometimes you just to get good and pissed, and to channel that emotion into positive change, to step up and say, “no more” and to be a catalyst to demonstrating what true love, true compassion, true generosity, true neighboring is all about.

  • David

    Just don’t forget that fundamentalists are people too who need to be brought into the light. Fundies need reached too. And sarcasm and patronizing is not the way. How do I know this? Because I used to fit that mold and I still live and minister among the conservative independent fundamental baptist world because I love those people. And I know that s&p only make fundies more militant in their efforts. And I know they are not a lost cause. You harp on fundies for dismissing anyone who does not fit their mold, while at the same time dismissing them for not fitting your mold. I’m sure you’re going to have a long snide remark but I don’t really care. I’m still going to love the fundies and try to reach them and bring them into true religion. You want fundies to treat homosexuals as real people. I would like to see more people like you treating fundies like real people as well. People that God loves and wants to fellowship more intimately with in deeper holiness and truth, just like homosexuals.

  • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

    I grew up as a religious minority. I was the only person in my school, until siblings came up behind me, who didn’t observe traditional holidays. We had dietary restrictions that were deemed odd, dress codes that were wierd, and religious observances that made for employment and educational inconveniences or hardships for many of the members.

    That is why I advocate and support fully complete religious freedom for all variations of faith. I know what it’s like. What you represent is religious extremism. While it is practiced individually, it is illegal in this country. I don’t care if someone worships coke cans, to them their religion is valid. As long as their faith does not promote or cause physical or emotional harm to themselves or to others, I respect and support their desire to adhere to their faith.