By Galen Dalrymple
War has been declared on Christianity. While I am tempted to say that no one can say with precision when this war started, that would not be true. It started when the Founder of our faith was born. The ruler of the tiny country where Jesus was born, King Herod, tried to kill him then and individuals and governments have been trying ever since to kill Him and His church. The war has waxed and waned throughout the ages but it has never gone away and it shall not disappear from the face of the earth as long as the present creation stands.
That being said, we are living in a time of perhaps unprecedented warfare against Christianity of all stripes and colors – at least against those who hold to an orthodox faith. There were more martyrs in the 20th century than in the 19 centuries prior and the rate is increasing. Martyrdom is just the tip of the sword – the deadliest part to be sure – but not the only evidence of this war in which we are engaged.
In the United States, religious liberties are being stripped away at a frightening pace, aided and abetted by the government, courts and specific laws such as the Affordable Care Act, wherein Christians are being told that they must do things which violate their religious beliefs, such as provide insurance that pays for abortifacients. It isn’t just Catholics who are taking a beating for their stand in this war, but non-Catholics as well: witness Hobby Lobby. The media scream at the craziness of Christians, impugning rationality and ascribing motivations that are hateful and vicious.
Before I continue, let me be clear about something: I am a Protestant. I have never been Catholic nor do I ever expect to be Catholic. But in this war against Christianity, the Catholic Church is not the enemy. Satan is the enemy. Whether we are Catholic or Protestant, if we are believers in and followers of Jesus, we are Christians. Enough with the names and branding – those things only divide us. It is time for all who bear the banner of Christ to rise together as simply “Christians” because the war is upon us.
There has been an explosion of comment in the blogosphere about a recent opinion piece article at US News and World Report written by one Jamie Steihm, titled “The Catholic Supreme Court’s War on Women” which was prompted by Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor’s stay order which allows an international religious order who serve the indigent; “The Little Sisters of the Poor”, to avoid paying fines (temporarily) for not acting in compliance with the HHS mandate requiring them to provide insurance for employees to have free contraception, abortifacients and sterilizations. The opinion piece is laced with vitriol and name-calling, aimed at the Catholic Supreme Court Justice and the Catholic Church. Numerous Catholic bloggers have written in response. What troubles me is that I see so few Protestant bloggers or leaders standing up vocally in defense of believers in the Catholic Church who have taken a brave and courageous stand and who have been treated so blatantly to anti-Catholic bigotry.
In one blog, Rebecca Hamilton, an 18-year member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives, diagnosed the war succinctly when she wrote: “Despite the fact that the faith in this particular frying pan was Catholic, the same treatment extends to every traditional Christian. Make no mistake about it my brothers and sisters in Christ; it was about all of us.” – Rebecca Hamilton, Public Catholic blog, 1/8/14 (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/publiccatholic/2014/01/deacon-greg-is-beautiful-when-hes-angry/)
Where are the Protestant voices standing up in one accord with our Catholic brothers and sisters in crying out against the war against Christianity? If Ms. Steihm had written with this amount of poison against Islam or Judaism, there would be a huge outcry. Proverbs warned us: A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest — 11 and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man. (Proverbs 6:10-11) While we aren’t talking about poverty or scarcity, the same holds true of freedom and truth: if we sleep, we will lose any claim to it. While we have been sleeping in our own segregated, denominational strongholds, the enemy has been awake and sharpening his arrows and swords and uses people such as Jamie Steihm, unwittingly, to do his bidding.
I am also troubled by how we sometimes respond (when and if we do) to such instances. The enemy issues proclamations (including ones that would require Steihm to have read Ms. Sotomayor’s mind so she could expound on her motivations), resorts to name-calling and attacks our integrity. In her view, it couldn’t possibly be true that we really do hold our convictions based on a faith principle, not some repressed desire to “keep women down”, much less, as in Justice Sotomayor’s stay; constitutional principles. But far too often, because we feel attacked, we respond in like manner, even in some of the rebuttals decrying how the enemy has belittled us. Again, Rebecca Hamilton shows us wisdom: “The bottom line for those of us out here in the audience is this: If you are a Christian, you need to stand up for Jesus. Don’t be a jerk about it. By that I mean keep your language clean, don’t name-call or attack any person. Do not try to use Satan’s weapons to fight Satan…Just stand up strong for Jesus Christ and the right of Christians to be Christian without being attacked, reviled, slandered or bullied in our society. Make your case as the son or daughter of the living God.” (op. cit.)
Certainly we have stronger weapons at our disposal than those the enemy uses; demeaning words, name calling and bullying. We have truth, faith, prayer, justice, integrity…and if and when we use those weapons rightly, the enemy doesn’t stand a chance.
A long time ago Benjamin Franklin said that we must hang together or we will hang separately. That will happen in our country unless we, believers in Christ, begin to stand together. Let us stand together with grace that comes from knowing the Lord Jesus and His grace to us. Let us stand together with those who may disagree on some things regarding doctrine and polity, but who nonetheless stand with us on the Person of Christ. If we fail to do so, there will be many of us hanging alone.
Galen Dalrymple works for Medical Ambassadors International (medicalambassadors.org) as the Field Curriculum Coordinator and lives in Northern California with his wife, Laurel, and yellow lab, Lucy. His passions are his family, photography, travel, and doing what he can to alleviate suffering and injustice as a call from Jesus.