I mentioned in an earlier post, Christian Persecution: In the West, Where the War is Forced Upon Us, that violent persecution of a group of people doesn’t spring fully-formed from the head of some political Zeus. It evolves in an almost invisible progression from a series of smaller things.
It almost always begins with simple criticism, some of which may even be valid. In time, this moves to unjust badgering, slanders and verbal harassment, which is coupled with agitation for changes in the law that impinge on the rights and freedoms of the group under attack. The legal discriminations begin slowly, again at first in areas that may even seem reasonable. Over time, they cut more and more deeply into the basic rights and essential freedoms of the target group. At the same time, insults and verbal harassment move into hectoring, hate speech and outright attempts to silence people.
This is where Christians are now in the Western World. We are bombarded with verbal attacks on our faith in the media, in our conversations, at our schools and even in our friendships and families. We must make the decision over and over to either be quiet and let this bigotry stand or engage in unsettling and exhausting battles that always seem to involve personal insults. At the same time, law-makers, government agencies and courts create laws, mandates and rulings that attempt to compel us to violate our faith or face legal sanctions, or prohibit us from the outward practice of our faith.
The HHS Mandate is an example of the government intruding on the free exercise of religion. The lawsuit against the British government over a woman’s right to wear a cross on a necklace to work without being fired is an example of how Christians are being forced to resist laws limiting the outward practice of their faith. There are many other examples of both these things that I could add.
The next move after legal discrimination and social hazing is violent persecution. Many Christians around the world face violent persecution, up to and including mass murder, because of their faith. We are not at that level in the Western world, but we have moved quite a distance down the continuum that leads to it.
When I published the earlier post, I received a few angry denunciations and ad hominem jibes, both on this board and in other venues. These comments fell along the predictable lines that I have seen over and again from people who have decided that there is a group of people that they want to persecute and attack.
In my experience, nothing makes people so angry as telling them that they may not kill, discriminate against, exploit, or attack some group of people that they have decided is outside the pale of human consideration.
I’m not a psychologist. I’m also not a theologian. But I’ve always felt that these people were influenced by the devil. There have been times in my job as a legislator that I have encountered such rage and hatred from someone who wants me to give them the legal right to kill or exploit others that it almost singed my skin when they looked at me. It was as if the devil was walking on two human feet, talking with a human mouth, and looking at me through human eyes.
It makes no difference if the people they want to kill, hurt and destroy are the unborn, Christians, immigrants, women, children, prisoners or simply the poor, their attitude of total indifference to them as people and self-righteous assurance of their right to hurt them is stone cold. There is nothing I have ever found that anyone can say to people who are in the froth of this kind of rage that will penetrate to their hearts and move them.
That is what I felt I encountered in some of the communications I received because of the post I mention above. I expect that I may receive more such communications because of this one.
That does not change my mind. To the contrary. It confirms my belief that we are living in a society in which a militant and highly aggressive group of people intends to engage in Christian-baiting and to push for increasingly unjust legal discrimination against Christians and they become enraged and abusive with anyone who tells them that what they are doing is wrong. I believe that this is our present situation in the West.
The question that flows from this is a simple one: What can we do about it?
One of my goals with this blog is to use whatever little bit of knowledge and insight I have to educate and empower my brothers and sisters in Christ about what’s happening and what to do about it. I am not claiming that I know a lot or that I have some all-encompassing Ms Fix-it Solution. All I’m saying is that I want to share what little I do know and what ideas I have.
Mother Theresa famously said that we are not called to be successful. We are called to be faithful. My version of that is that there is an ocean of needful things that need doing in this world and none of us can do them all. Also, none of us can control what other people will do or how they will react to our best efforts. We can become overwhelmed by this and let it defeat us before we start.
However no one of us has to do everything that needs doing. There are a lot of us, and if we all do our part, everything will get done. We also don’t have to change anyone’s mind with our faithful witness for Christ. That is the job of the Holy Spirit.
I touched on it in the last paragraph. There are a lot of things that need doing, far more than any one of us can do alone, but that is not a problem. All any one of us has to do is his or her part. That’s it. Just do your part, say your prayers and trust God.
I think one simple thing that all of us can do is to stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters who are being sanctioned and fired for wearing a cross. I would like to see every Christian in Britain and all the rest of Europe begin wearing a cross, outside their clothes, every day. I would like to see us doing it here in America, as well.
I have a St Thomas More medal that I wear on a chain around my neck. I also have a Miraculous Medal ring that I wear on one of my fingers. When I add a crucifix to that, I’m going to be jingle, jangle, jingling with religious jewelry. But I’m going to do it, just the same. I plan to buy a cross pin to wear on my blazer, my blouse and when I’m just putzing around, my t-shirt.
Someone else might wear a cross on a necklace; another person a bracelet. Your cross might be a pin made of ribbons or even a paper cross colored by a child. It’s the statement of solidarity that counts; not the jewelry.
Will you join me? Add your thoughts and ideas about how we can do this better in the comments section. I think if we combine all our thoughts, we might come up with something really good.