ReligiousLiberty.TV publishes articles from a wide variety of sources. The following article does not necessarily reflect the view of the editors or advisory board but is presented as another perspective on the issue of religious persecution of Christians in contemporary America. This was originally posted on Ryan Bell's blog.  

 

By Ryan Bell –

Are Christians being persecuted today? It depends on what you mean. People of all types are being persecuted in various places around the world so it isn't a straight-forward symmetrical question, either.

According to the United States Department of State, Christians in more than 60 countries face persecution from their governments or surrounding neighbors simply because of their belief in the person of Jesus Christ. [1]

In the United States, the situation is vastly different. There is without a doubt an anti-Christian pushback in the USA today along with isolated cases of violence, but nothing that could realistically be called persecution. In spite of this, the website,Christian Persecution in American, claims:

The evidence declares that Christians are persecuted in the United States. And if the current trends advance, those with true Biblical convictions will continue to be prejudiced, segregated and ostracized (as exemplified in hitler's Germany) by the groups mentioned above, apostates and others.

Scary stuff. And yet, the website offers scant evidence. Instead there are a few anecdotes and arguments that the situation will get worse. The website even claims, in a remarkable reversal of reality, that homosexual activists are targeting Christians in what they call, homosexual violence.

In the United States, the claim that Christians are being persecuted is unsubstantiated. Of course there are cases of intolerance. Christians in predominantly secular contexts, like public universities and large cities like New York and Los Angeles, do experience discrimination, but it hardly rises to the level of what could be credibly called persecution.

This reality notwithstanding, the right-wing Christian media machine insists that persecution of Christians is widespread and about to get much worse. This weekend, this claim comes to the big screen in a new Christian film unambiguously titled,Persecuted. Here's the trailer:

The film portrays a Senator framing and persecuting a humble, honest evangelist. But the actual situation as we speak reflect the opposite-law makers in the US Congress, along with right-wing Christian leaders and pundits, imposing their religion on the public (think, Hobby Lobby and the exceptions being sought to ENDA. Conservatives somehow manage to flip the script and claim that the government's refusal to allow employers to discriminate amounts to-you guessed it-discrimination. And now, with this film, the ruse is elevated to "persecution."

Christians in America have been comfortable with their two century long hegemony over the public square. In the past few decades they have been required to share power with people quite different from themselves. This is not an easy transition, to be sure, but it isn't persecution and to posit it as such is dishonest and frankly dangerous.

Candida Moss makes this point quite clearly in her book, The Myth of Persecution How Early Christians Invented a Story of Martyrdom, where she traces this martyr complex to its source: the notion that Christians have been persecuted and fed to the lions throughout history.

"The myth of Christian martyrdom and persecution needs to be corrected, because it has left us with a dangerous legacy that poisons the well of public discourse. This affects not just Christians, but everyone. We cannot use the mere fact that we feel persecuted as evidence that our cause is just or as the grounds for rhetorical or actual war. We cannot use the supposed moral superiority of our ancient martyrs to demonstrate the intrinsic superiority of our modern religious beliefs or ideological positions. Once we recognize that feeling persecuted is not proof of anything, then we have to engage in serious intellectual and moral debate about the actual issues at hand" (256).

So, while there is no Christian persecution in the United States to speak of, the myth persists, built upon centuries of mythology. It appears that if the right-wing Christian establishment can't get their message across by reasoned arguments they will continue resorting to fear-based appeals to people's emotions.

[1] Cited at Open Doors USA, a Christian website serving persecuted Christians worldwide.

 

RLTV Editor's Note:  Ephraim Radner rebuts Candida Moss' position on early Christian martyrdom in his article in First Things, "Unmythical Martyrs" http://www.firstthings.com/article/2013/05/unmythical-martyrs

 

 
 

1 Comment

  1. Anonymous says:

    lol dude did u skip all ur english classes? Or did ur english teacher just see the big words on ur paper and give u an a? You should at least read an article aloud to urself to see if it doesn't sound like a moron trying to be smart.

 
 
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