Conservative Christians: Persecutors not Persecuted

Conservative Christians: Persecutors not Persecuted January 13, 2013

It is interesting to see what else has appeared in the blogosphere since I posted about conservative Christians' persecution complex this morning.

Christopher Skinner shared the news today that Cedarville University is now apparently trying to rid itself of its philosophers, having successfully ousted Michael Pahl, much as other institutions recently did in the cases of Christopher Rollston, Anthony Le Donne, Peter Enns, and others.

Meanwhile, an update on what such Christians consider “persecution.” Branson Parler at the blog Think Christian posted on Christians' persecution complexes today, concluding with the following insightful sentence:

There is still a battle raging, but it is not a battle for general acceptance on the American public stage. So long as Christians think it is, we may have already succumbed to the temptation of our true Enemy.

And Ken Leonard wrote in a comment on my blog wrote:

Nero fed Christians to lions. In Iran, Christians fear for their lives. In China, members of churches not approved by the state face life in prison. In the US, employers are expected to have their health care plans cover health care and can't force other people to pray.

That pretty much sums it up. But I will add this image from Jon Stewart, which I think needs to be tweaked to reflect Thomas Jefferson, but otherwise makes a valid point:


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  • Well said! There is no war on Christmas, but there is a movement against state-sponsored privileging of one religion over all others (and over those who do not practice religion).

  • Susan Burns

    There is no difference between (some) Christians and spoiled children. They are used to thinking that they are the only ones that matter. When they don’t receive their expected preferential treatment, it feels like persecution to them. The proper thing to do when they throw their tantrums is to ignore them. It works on two year olds every time.

  • domy

    so if a conservative Christian institution fires someone this is persecution or purging, if someone demotes a Christian for his stance on same sex marriage (in Church and not in civil laws) how do you call it?

    • When someone is demoted, challenges it in court, and wins, you consider that persecution comparable to people actually being driven out of their jobs? I wonder if you are not illustrating one of the points that I am making in the post.

      • domy

        There are many examples with people actually fired for their stance on same sex marriage but I found this one more interesting because there was a conclusion. Are you saying that if the people you are speaking about would challenge their dismissal in the court and then they would win then what happened to them could not be called persecution?
        Again, if they do not challenge their dismissal in the court how could you call it persecution or purging as the dismissal was made according the laws?

        • I think there are several points worth separating out. First, should Christians be engaging in persecution of others in sny way, shape or form? Second, ought Christians to be working to prevent others from having the same rights as others in a society where their own freedom to disagree with others is protected?

          • domy

            That their freedom to disagree is protected we will see in the future when the law will force civil Christians officials to performe same sex marriage if they want to maintain their jobs.

            I was also thinking that the graph at the beginning is wrong,

            As the progressive Christians I suppose do not complain of being persecuted they should be removed from the portion of the graph ‘Christian’.

          • Christians in those offices today have to marry people even if they are divorced, even though that is explicitly unbiblical. The conservative Christian picking and choosing about which of Jesus’ teachings to follow and which things to get up in arms about, while pretending to be consistent and faithful, is extremely disturbing.

            Progressive Christians sometimes complain too. We are only human, and so fallible. But I think that progressive Christians are less likely to pretend to be persecuted just because society as a whole does not legislate according to our views or give us a soapbox to stand on.

          • aar9n

            I love how he only cares about himself and Christians losing jobs; never mind that I have gay friends who have to hide their orientation to get a job… But who cares about them, right? Jesus was all about being concerned with yourself first.

          • domy

            I think that Jesus did not make a scale of injustice and discrimination.
            If gay people is forced to hide his identity this is a form of persecution; this does not make another story a less severe form of persecution. I was just trying to figure out what Prof. McGrath meant with persecution.

          • Mary

            James, I love your blog and I am definitely pro-equality, but it sounds like this guy has a point. Even a prominent gay rights person defended this guy, saying that the penalty was excessive. Like it or not, we can’t legislate people’s private opinions.

          • Indeed! I did not mean to sound like I disagree on that particular point. I merely hoped to emphasize that, in democratic countries Christians often have recourse to the law to protect their freedoms in ways that others do not, and so I still find it disturbing how often some Christians will refer to the context they live in in the US or UK as one typified by persecution.

          • Mary

            Thanks for the clarification. Yes I do agree that many Christians do not see the difference. I suspect that many feel that their rights are being gradually eroded and that eventually it will end up wih them having no legal recourse. This of course is not true because there are protections against that sort of thing.

    • plutosdad

      If they were fired for their stance then that is probably actionable (such as, if the manager found out by reading a facebook post, or some other way outside of work). (Of course, most of us are “at will” employees so you can fire someone for about any reason.)

      If they were fired because they were telling other people at work about their stance (not knowing who is gay or not that is listening), and HR asked them to stop and they still kept doing it, then that is a persecutor finally being demoted or fired for creating a hostile work environment. If you keep bothering the people you work with instead of working (like the JPL administrator) then yes, you’ll get in trouble. It doesn’t matter if it’s about gay marriage, religion, politics, or anything.

      Note, that is a difference than being punished “for their stance”. It wasn’t for their stance, in every case it’s because someone was bothering their coworkers and not stopping even after being warned.

      It is not comparable to being fired for being gay or atheist, because they’d be fired for who they are, not for what they do at work. Similarly, being fired merely for being a christian is wrong, but that has not happened.

      • domy

        it seems to me that none of your options are applicable to the present case: private facebook comments outside the work. But even if this man had made these two comments at work you rightly said that the company should have warned him to stop before taking any action but in this case the company proceeded immediately for comments made outside the work!
        So, how do you call the action taken by the company against this man?

  • I’ve been quoted!

    I’m flattered …

  • plutosdad

    We get upset when we lose privilege. As a straight white man I notice the loss of privilege, but for me to whine about it would be incredibly insulting to all the non white and non male and non straight people I know.

    I can’t go around unknowingly insulting people, that is supposed to be a problem? It is not persecution to demand I respect other people in the workplace or a public forum. I am merely losing the privilege I enjoyed where I could insult them in the past, or could use government funding to promote my ideas.

    There was a good Doonesbury recently, where a reporter complained that there was a big problem in their small town, saying “There are no nativities in front of the public buildings, instead every church and home front lawn in town has one! I don’t know about you but my Jesus was born in front of a post office!”

  • Rami

    The truth is non believers think they are better than believers. This is the core of the problem.