As regular readers will know I’m the first to say that Western Christians are not persecuted in the true sense of the word, or when viewed through the looking glass of the brutalisation of Christian minority groups in Islamic lands and elsewhere.
However, if we redefine the term by prefixing ‘intellectual’ then perhaps there is a stronger case; incorporating, the ‘slippery slope’ argument.
However, this is not the end of the story. While western Christians may not be physically persecuted for our faith, there is a great deal of intellectual persecution going on everyday and it shows no sign of slowing down. Persecution, as any sociologist knows, is notoriously difficult to define. At its core, it involves oppression, denial of freedom, harassment, instigation of pain, belittling, and wholesale hatred. It has a very emotional foundation and has little regard for the dignity of man. In Christianity, it has always been associated with an attempted denial of belief. The sporadic persecutions of the early church had grassroots beginnings. Normally the government would stay out of it. Eventually, it turned “official” and violent, especially during the Diocletian era at the turn of the third century. But whether physical or not, the end goal is the same: the individual oppression of people’s faith in Christ.
Many people believe that the western world is on a fast train heading toward a time when there will again be physical persecution. I don’t know about that. What I do know is that when we are always looking for some time in the future, some Christ-hating law to be passed, or some political leader whose name can be creatively associated with 666 (0r 616 for us Wallacites!), we miss something very important: we are already under persecution – intellectual persecution. It is happening right now, under our noses, everyday. All one has to do is turn on Bill Maher, watch the news, or read one of the “New Atheists.” Their interaction does not come in the form of reasoned intellectual response to Christian beliefs or values, but belittling sound bites which seek to gain them quick favoritism. Have you ever seen a Christian attempt to pull off a news interview? If the Christian stands up for traditional marriage, against abortion, or holds to the exclusivity of Christianity or the reality of eternal punishment, there is no call for debate or serious interaction, but ad hominem attacks. As in all things, belittling evidences more insecurity on the side of the belittler than anything else, but observers don’t always know that. This translates into a more culturally-accepted persecution and suppression of ideas. How do we know about it so intimately? Because we have done the same thing to others.
Tags: Christian Persecution