Christian Persecution: The Solidarity Cross

I’m going to call it The Solidarity Cross.

The idea began last week with a post about a British woman who was fired for wearing a cross to work.

All these stories of Christian persecution, which range from verbal harassment to genocidal mass murder, lead us to the same questions. What would we do if it was us? What are we going to do to help them? And finally, how do Christians from all over the world, stand together?

Christianity bears the face of humanity. We are every race, almost all languages, cultures and climes. How do we stand together in the face of the growing persecution of Christians that exists at some phase of its continuum just about everywhere, including here in America and the rest of the so-called Christian West?

I think we should start small. With a symbol that can speak as clearly as words. That’s where the Solidarity Cross comes in.

The idea is simple and straight-forward: Christians should wear a cross outside their clothing in protest of the growing social hazing and economic discrimination directed toward Christians throughout most of the Western world. We should also wear it in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Christ who face violent persecution in much of the rest of the world.

When I first made the suggestion, I suggested just any cross. But the more I thought about it this week, the more I felt that we should try to wear a similar cross. The reason is that this makes a statement to anyone who sees it. It makes the point for us.

If we each just get a cross that suits our individual taste and put it on, those who see us will view it as nothing more than an individual gesture. They might think it is a fashion statement, or a personal statement of belief. But the message the you are standing in solidarity with your brothers and sisters in Christ in the face of Christian persecution would not show.

For this to have an impact, people have to know what statement we are making when they see our crosses. This is called “branding” in advertising and politics. It is often created with expensive advertising campaigns created by equally expensive ad agencies. God has not given us those resources.

But we can duplicate some of the things that make branding work. We can be consistent. We can be persistent. We can create a single symbolic cross that will be a symbol of our stand against Christian persecution.

The question: What should this cross look like?

I think it should be:

1. Inexpensive.

2. Easy to attach, such as a pin.

3. Distinctive.

What ideas do you have for this? I am looking for suggestions for what it should look like and how we implement this.

Ideas? Thoughts? Suggestions?

  • http://heartonthejourney.wordpress.com Paul Bradford

    Rebecca,

    I’m called upon to proclaim at morning Mass on Thursdays and yesterday, during the Prayers of the Faithful, it fell to me to lead a prayer “for those persecuted because they follow Jesus, that they have the courage to continue bearing witness to the Truth.” I noted two things, 1) that we weren’t praying for the persecutors to ease up and 2) that I myself was absolutely itching to point out that anyone anywhere who mustered up the courage to sufficiently bear witness to the Truth was going to be persecuted.

    The truth is utterly unbearable to the unrepentant, and yet most Christians consider it their duty to be inoffensive to non-believers. We’re so inoffensive that we don’t even stir the consciences of the unrepentant in our own congregations! When Christians are persecuted we imagine that something is wrong, something that needs to be fixed. Is that the right way to think? Jesus said, “Blessed are you, joyful are you, happy are you when you are persecuted for the sake of my name.” Maybe we should start thinking that something needs to be fixed when we’re NOT being persecuted.

    By all means, wear the cross; but recall that we’ve spent centuries demonstrating to those still warring with God that they have no reason to fear the crosses we wear. I say, “Go further”. Wear the cross on the inside, LIVE the cross. If you do that, no one will require ‘branding’ to understand that your cross IS something to fear.

    The Christian who is witnessing to the Truth is making a relentless challenge to every single one of the fundamental beliefs that inform the behavior of the worldly.

    We read, in the Book of Wisdom,
    “The wicked say:
    Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us;
    he sets himself against our doings,
    reproaches us for transgressions of the law
    and charges us with violations of our training.”

    Can you really claim to be a “just one” if you’re not being obnoxious? And shouldn’t we expect to receive the reward of “Blessed, joyful happiness”, in other words, the persecution that Jesus promised us for our obnoxious behavior?

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Paul, these are all serious questions that Christians must wrestle wit individually and as a community. My take, fwiw, is that while we are going to be attacked and, yes, persecuted for your faith, that doesn’t mean that we should cooperate with the persecutors when we have the power to stand up to them. Martyrdom of any degree is one thing. Seeking it out in some way is another.

      Also, we would feel obligated to speak out about this kind of treatment of any other group. Why are we so chary of doing so for ourselves and other Christians? I don’t understand that at all.

      I believe that what you say here is absolutely true. I’ve experienced it in my own life and even on this blog. “The truth is utterly unbearable to the unrepentant, and yet most Christians consider it their duty to be inoffensive to non-believers.” We are engaged in a battle, not with people, but with “power and principalities.

      The fact that we have allowed ourselves to be bullied and blackmailed into truncating the Gospels to the point that, as you say, “We’re so inoffensive that we don’t even stir the consciences of the unrepentant in our own congregations!” may be coming to an end. The attacks are becoming too aggressive to ignore. That’s why the bishops had to take a stand against the HHS Mandate. It had reached the point that they could no longer not. As the social Christians bail out because they can not longer continue to compromise with the world and actually have to chose Christ, we will become smaller in number but much more powerful in our witness. At least that’s what I think I see coming. In fact, it’s what I think I see happening.

      As for the Solidarity Cross, I am not trying to make a gesture. I’m trying to motivate and challenge Christians to make a statement against these attacks on us and our faith. I don’t know if I will succeed, but I live by the credo that all I ever have to do is my part. The rest I leave in God’s hands.

      As to whether or not we should be obnoxious, I think there’s a place for every sort of person in God’s kingdom. Some of us are peacemakers, others are soldiers. God uses us all.

      Thank you for this wonderful comment.

      Now. What kind of cross do you think would be good for this Solidarity Cross I’m trying to launch?

  • Arkenaten

    “Wear the cross on the inside, LIVE the cross.”

    I mentioned something similar on a previous post and was regaled for it by a commenter.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      We always have to walk our talk Douglas. But the hope I have for the Solidarity Cross is that it WILL be worn, and in public, in order to make a public statement of solidarity with persecuted Christians.

      • Arkenaten

        I forgot to add”’
        Openly stating ‘I am a Christian’ be it T-shirt, Cross or whatever in a predominantly Islamic and hostile environment is only liable to flame the fires and seriously endanger the lives of ‘cross-wearers’(bearers)
        Like painting a target on one’s back during hunting season, wouldn’t you say?

        • Rebecca Hamilton

          This is for those of us who live in countries where we can still wear a cross without being physically attacked as a way of standing in solidarity with those who can’t and also as a way of standing in solidarity with those who are facing discriminatory laws that punish them for openly wearing a cross (Great Britain) or who are hazed for wearing one (many places.)
          I want to point out that the mere mention of wearing a cross on this Catholic/Christian blog gives rise to enough verbal harassment from people who are not Christians but who come on this board for the purpose of hazing the people here, that I had to step in and start deleting comments in order for the Christians who want to comment to be able to carry on their on-line conversation here in a coherent fashion. And this is in the so-called “Christian West.”

          • Arkenaten

            I’ll have to tread carefully I suppose. Here goes….(holds breath)

            If you have a plan to lobby the UN fir instance,then I’d say, “Okay, give this a try.”
            or even picket the Nigerian embassy this would be a good start.
            Merely turning up for work etc. with a cross about one’s person might make you (and other Christians) feel good, but it will make zip difference to a poor Nigerian Christian woman who has just had her family blown away, any more than it will make one iota of difference to the families of those blown to bits at Kabul by that suicide bomber.
            Did not Gandhi say be the change you wish to see in others? (okay, you can slay me for this with something I’ve posted)

            • Rebecca Hamilton

              Actually, lobbying the UN and the Nigerian embassy both have potential.
              However, for right now I am going to continue to focus on the Solidarity Cross. I think it’s the most useful thing for the point where we are right now.
              If you want to organize a protest in support of persecuted Christians following your ideas, I think that would be great.

              • Arkenaten

                *Smile*. You are sweet.
                Wouldn’t that be something, though? The atheist ‘fighting’ for Christians.
                In all honesty, I would simply ask, what would Jesus do?
                I have a feeling you may be able to answer this better than I, yes?

  • http://jessicahof.wordpress.com/ Jessica Hoff

    I have a simple cross as a pin, which I wear on my coat, and another simple on on a chain round my neck.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      That’s what I’m thinking Jessica, only something that we all wear and that hopefully will become identifiable with our message over time. Kind like the Komen pink ribbon pin for breast cancer.
      I’m kind of thinking purple, since that’s the color for penitence.
      What do you think?

      • http://Heartfulmemories@wordpress.com janice oliver

        Purple sounds good. My first thought was it should stand for Christians united. Right now I wear my necklace with a cross on it and I also wear one as a pin, usually not both together. I am blessed that my employers are Catholics and support me as a Southern Baptist. After all it is being a fellow christian that matters most!

        • Rebecca Hamilton

          I’m drawn to purple, too. But I want to try to get a consensus of what the believers here think. I’m so not artsy!

  • http://justifiedandsinner.com Pastor Dt Parker

    Just a thought, but also never hesitate to make the sign of the cross, for as we do we bring to mind our baptism, when God marked our hearts and minds as His, and bestowed on us His Spirit.

    It is note just a movement that invokes the Trinity in some magical formulation, but rather calls us back to Romans 6 and our unity with Jesus Death and Resurrection.

    As to persecutation – remember what was said of those who found victory in Christ…

    “12:10 Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens, “It has come at last— salvation and power and the Kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down to earth— the one who accuses them before our God day and night. 11 And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die. 12 Therefore, rejoice, O heavens! And you who live in the heavens, rejoice!”
    Revelation 12:10-12a (NLT)

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Absolutely. Thank you.

    • http://nebraskaenergyobserver.wordpress.com neenergyobserver

      To add to Rev. Parker’s thought on making the sign of the cross, I commented today at Jessica’s on a somewhat related theme that in a way making the sign of the cross is somewhat analogous to the military salute, in that we offer it as we enter the presence of our superior, very superior in this case, and it reminds us of what and who we are.

      To your point, Rebecca, my thought is this, men usually are a bit loath to use color in any meaningful way. As a token of confirmation, my class received a cross, in this case it had no attachment device, most of us drilled a hole through to top arm for a chain. In form, it was a simple roman cross with an inscription i can’t remember of cast aluminum, in those long ago days, it’s value couldn’t have been more than 25 cents, but it served perfectly well. Another inexpensive alternative would be an army chaplains’ branch device, which is widely available.

      • Rebecca Hamilton

        You’re right on all counts.

        I hadn’t thought about it, but my men avoid color. My son wears a plain aluminum cross on the kind of chain they use for dog tags. Excellent advice.
        25 cents is the right price, too!

      • Arkenaten

        Apparently, the military salute derived from the days when Knights, prior to facing off against each other, would raise their right hand and lift their helmet visor.
        It was not an acknowledgement to a superior at all, but rather a gesture among equals if anything.

        • http://nebraskaenergyobserver.wordpress.com neenergyobserver

          True, but in modern usage it is always initiated by the junior to the senior, and I suspect that a knight saluted a duke first as well, simple self preservation if nothing else. It goes further back in some form however, at least to the Roman army and likely to Sparta.

  • http://allstraw.blogspot.com Niall Mor

    GMTA! I had a similar thought months ago, but I confess I was not as consistent about wearing the cross as I should have been. Thanks to your reminder, I am now wearing a Celtic Cross (basically a Latin cross with a circle around the transept. This is a symbol (a) that I am a Christian, and (b) I am a Christian of Celtic, or Scottish and Irish ancestry. Certain so-called “pagans” or “neopagans” have appropriated the word “Celt” to describe themselves, a practice that really ticks me off. The Celts of Ireland and Scotland have been Christian since at least the fourth or fifth century A. D., and were instrumental in bringing the Gospel to much of the rest of Europe. Your post reminds us that the historic Christian faith is under attack as never before throughout the British Isles.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Fantastic Niall. We’re also under attack as never before here in America.

  • http://theraineyview.wordpress.com Serena

    I heard we were supposed to wear visible crosses, so when I was at a thrift store and saw a two-inch greenish-white semitranslucent cross on a chain I bought it, and then discovered it glows in the dark. I propose crosses like that. It’s unmistakable yet not heavy or awkward.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Now that’s an idea! 24-hour visibility.

  • http://scpeanutgallery.com Art Chartier

    I like the Jerusalem Cross (aka Crusader’s Cross) – it’s inexpensive, easy to attach, and distinctive. Here’s a picture of one that is readily available – http://www.google.com/imgres?hl=en&sa=X&rlz=1G1GGLQ_ENUS244&biw=1360&bih=653&tbm=isch&prmd=imvns&tbnid=hJudyNWBilxHjM:&imgrefurl=http://www.aquinasandmore.com/catholic-gifts/jerusalem-cross-lapel-pin/sku/12496&docid=2yfMMguUgeCcYM&imgurl=http://cdn.aquinasandmore.com/images/items/jerusalem-cross-lapel-pin12496lg.jpg&w=280&h=293&ei=g85mUMLwF4iC8ASNooGwDQ&zoom=1&iact=hc&vpx=856&vpy=310&dur=332&hovh=230&hovw=219&tx=119&ty=104&sig=115316499848335692613&page=1&tbnh=133&tbnw=127&start=0&ndsp=24&ved=1t:429,r:13,s:0,i:167

    And here’s an excerpt from the Wikipedia article on it’s significance –

    “The simpler form of the cross is known as the “Crusaders’ Cross”, because it was on the papal banner given to the Crusaders by Pope Urban II for the First Crusade, and became a symbol of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem. It was first worn by Godfrey of Bouillon, the first leader of the Kingdom. The four smaller crosses are said to symbolize either the four books of the Gospel or the four directions in which the Word of Christ spread from Jerusalem. Alternatively, all five crosses can symbolize the five wounds of Christ during the Passion, the Pentateuch and, presumably, the first five Christian Churches.”

    Here’s the Wikipedia link – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerusalem_cross

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Great stuff, Art. I didn’t know any of this.

  • skip

    I experienced this kind of isolation once before. When my son was fighting in Iraq I realized that virtually no one I knew shared my situation. Many in America were ambivalent about the war while some were outright hostile to the endeavor.

    I gave this situation a lot of thought but one fact came through all of this: I was rightfully proud of the fact that my son had volunteered. Whether one agreed with the war or not, only those who chose to do were actually fighting in it. They deserved support.

    So I did a little research and found that there was a universal American symbol that demonstrated the fact that a member of my family was fighting: the Blue Star.

    I sewed a huge one out of nylon and sailcloth and placed it prominently in front of my house.

    I bought several blue star pins and I wore one on my jacket lapel every day at work.

    Some people understood, many did not. But those who disagreed with the war stopped their negative narrative when I was within hearing distance. It made my life easier.

    Now we face the same problem. I think the idea of a cross, or some other sign of our devotion makes complete sense. I think that our willingness to put this “in the face” of the non believers will help all of us rally to the cause. It is my opinion that christians are being mistreated in America because he have been too passive for too long. Yes, pray for those misguided souls, but speak out against their perfidy too.

    We should also demand that our federal legislators confront those who are persecuting christians in countries to which we give foreign aid.

    Why should my tax dollars go to support the government in Egypt that is doing nothing to aid the Copts? Why shouldn’t my senators and congresspeople be standing up for what we believe?

    As a man who is newly returned to the faith, I feel it strongly. I have the courage to carry it forward and the energy to make a difference.

    Let’s roll.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Thank you. You’ve caught my vision. Also, if you could read the many posts I’ve had to delete, you’d see that unbelievers are evidently quite threatened by this idea.

  • Ted Seeber

    Mine is hidden in plain sight. As a part of my normal clothing, I have my 1st Degree Knights of Columbus lapel pin on my suspenders (the one article of clothing I wear day in and day out). There is a cross in the design, though due to the shield, and the fact it’s a Maltese Cross, it’s a bit hard to see.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      I’ve always like the Knights lapel pins. Very classy.

  • Earl Shugerman

    It is so sad that people are persecuted for seeking spiritual joy and fulfillment. My opinion is that those who believe in their faiths and themselves respect others. Thanks for you support.
    Earl Shugerman

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Thank YOU Earl.

  • http://scpeanutgallery.com Art Chartier

    OK – so what have you come up with? I’ve started wearing my Jerusalem Cross pin… see reference above.

  • http://www.persecution.com Lee

    The Voice of the Martyrs in as organization that assists persecuted Christians around the world. The Cross of Fellowship necklace is excellent reminder to pray for the persecuted church around the world and being made of intersecting spikes, it makes the statement you mention in your article. You can find it on their website: https://secure.persecution.com/p-247-cross-of-fellowship-necklace.aspx. May God bless and keep you in your efforts.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Thank you for this Lee. I haven’t abandoned this at all. I just got sidetracked by personal things. I’ll look into this. It may be what we’re looking for. (I just finished reading In God’s Underground last night.)