Persecution of Christians in America: It's Not Just 'Over There'

By now, the whole world is familiar with the snuff films documenting the forced marches and beheadings of orange-jumpsuited Christians by such groups as ISIS.  Churches are blown up or converted into mosques, monuments and tombstones are pulverized or desecrated, and Christian schools are shut down while refugees from the horror of ISIS and other Islamist groups literally flee to the mountains. 

But as it did at the turn of the 20th century, when the harassed and tormented Armenians were exterminated by the hundreds of thousands, the world turns a nearly blind eye to the distress of Christians and groups like the Yazidis, 600 of whom were slaughtered only a heartbeat in time ago.  By and large, the extermination of Christians and Christian culture from the Middle East and Northern Africa is greeted by the West with a sigh or ignored altogether. 

That is because for most Americans, persecution of Christians is perceived as happening only somewhere over there in other countries.  Distance serves as anesthetic.  Certainly it’s not happening here.  Not in the United States of America!  Numbed Christians in America assume they are safe from persecution. 

But they are not safe.

As Msgr. Charles Pope and Johnette Benkovic point out, persecution of a hated segment of society begins gradually and accelerates stage by stage.  Christians in America should recognize they are well into the first stages of persecution.

The first stage begins with attempts to stereotype the targeted group.  Our current president summed up the Christian-hating left’s views of people of faith when in 2008, he categorized working-class voters in the following way: "[I]t's not surprising, then, that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.” 

For Obama, as well as for nearly all the left, people of faith are the inhibitors of “progress,” and they deserve being caricatured as Bible-thumpers, and therefore ignorant, uneducated, backward hicks and rednecks.

Msgr. Pope elaborates:

Catholics, in particular, were also accused of having neurotic guilt and a hatred of or aversion to sexuality.  We were denounced as a sexist institution filled with clergy who were sexually repressed, homosexuals, or pedophiles. We were labeled an authoritarian institution stuck in the past, one with too many restrictive rules. Basically, as the stereotype goes, Catholics and Bible-believing Christians are a sad, angry, boring, backward, repressed lot. To many who accept the stereotype, we are a laughable—even tragic—group caught in a superstitious past, incapable of throwing off the ‘shackles’ of faith.

The second stage of persecution involves justifying hatred of a particular group.  As the progressive religion accelerates and consolidates its agenda, it justifies vilification of Christians who refuse to embrace its tenets of faith.  Christians are portrayed as regressive troglodytes who are determined to resist the hope and change forced on them by the almighty State.  Those who oppose the fundamental transformation the left desires are “described as close-minded, harmful to human dignity and freedom, intolerant, hateful, bigoted, unfair, homophobic, reactionary, and just plain mean and basically bad people.”

Of course, it follows that the history of the Christian church is seen as little more than unrelieved episodes of crusades, inquisitions, repression of scientific knowledge – the repository of everything bad.  Meanwhile, the current-day intellectual heirs of the Enlightenment are held up as the only light Western civilization has known or will ever know.  

The end result, Pope writes, is that “all of this has the effect of creating a self-righteous indignation toward believers and of making anti-Catholic and anti-Christian attitudes a permissible bigotry for many today.”

Stage three involves marginalizing Christians’ role in society.  Because Christianity is seen by the left as harmful to society at large, its immense contributions are downplayed or scorned.  In fact, religion should be exterminated if a just and equal, fundamentally transformed United States is to arise like the proverbial phoenix from the cremation of the superstitious, irrational Christian past and present.  If the Church is allowed to exist, its skeletal remains should exist only within select ossuaries, wherein its outdated and harmful rituals may – just may – be performed by and for the drugged and deluded.

In practice, Monsignor Pope writes, the left’s hatred of religion means that public prayer must be forbidden, Christian influence in public policy eliminated, and Christian holidays secularized.

It follows that Christians must be excluded from places of power and influence, be they in politics, academia, or the media.  All positions of power belong by right to enlightened leftist progressives.

As Chris Matthews recently suggested, Christians, particularly conservative evangelical Christians, have no place in American politics.  “If you’re a politician and believe in God first, that’s all good.  Just don’t run for government office, run for church office,” he tweeted.  Not to be outdone, Mike Dickinson, a Virginia Democrat running for a House seat, tweeted, “Said it proudly!  Want to decimate the Tea Party, The NRA, bible thumpers and Fox News zombies?  Vote for me!”

The fourth stage of persecution involves criminalizing Christians and their churches, businesses, and educational institutions.  Monsignor Pope writes:

An increasing amount of litigation is being directed against the Church and other Christians for daring to live out our faith[.] … It is clear that attempts to criminalize Christian behavior is a growth sector in this culture and it signals the beginning of the steady erosion of religious liberty. Many indeed feel quite righteous, quite politically correct in their work to separate the practice of the faith from the public square.

One of the righteous who openly advocates excision of Christianity from the entire culture is Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who recently stated at the Sixth annual Women in the World Summit that “deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed” for the sake of giving women access to “reproductive health care and safe childbirth. Far too many women are denied access to reproductive health care and safe childbirth, and laws don’t count for much if they’re not enforced.  Rights have to exist in practice – not just on paper.”

Stage five involves persecuting Christians outright.  It may involve forcing Christians to go against historic teaching of the Church by insisting that priests and pastors marry gays, as Frank Bruni of the NY Times recently advocated.  It then may move on to make religious institutions adhere to government “health” mandates, including provision of abortion services. 

It may include the levying of heavy fines, such as the proposed $135,000 fine against bakers who refused to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding.  The general idea is to force the person to perform acts odious to him because of his deeply rooted faith, much like the SS forcing Jews to eat pork on Yom Kippur. 

All of this is to say nothing of the filing of lawsuits against Christians who practice their faith and the proposed denial of tax-exempt status formerly routinely given to churches and Christian charitable and educational institutions.  Persecution could well accelerate to include Henry VIII-style seizure of church property and monies because of Christian leaders’ refusal to bow to the doctrines of the State.  As Pope notes, even jail time for Christians is quite possible: “Already in Canada and in parts of Europe, Catholic clergy have been arrested and charged with ‘hate crimes’ for preaching Catholic doctrine on homosexual activity.”

Finally, as noted at the beginning of this article, the last stage of persecution of Christians ends in their death. 

How should American Christians respond?  What should be done?

First, the American Christian church must rid itself of its neo-Gnostic separation from the world, recognizing that though “not of this world,” it is still in it.  It must forsake its spiritual agoraphobia, its self-limitation to and passive acceptance of a backwater subculture.  It must shake off the temptation to fight old and futile battles and see clearly the new battles before it.  It must shake off its torpor and fight for the rights it has held for hundreds of years.

Christians also must realize they have been deceived by the terms of the left, which successfully persecutes Christians in the name of civil rights and equality.  The battle against Christians in the name of “equality” and “rights” must be seen for what it is; namely, a battle between two inimically opposed religious world views, one of which is historic Christianity, the other of which is a tyrannous statism that seeks to ram its views down Christians’ throats.

Next, it is up to the priests, pastors and other church leaders to educate their congregations as to what is transpiring here in the land of the free.  Last, pastors and priests must prepare themselves and their flocks for civil disobedience.   

The very existence of the Church and Christianity in America is at stake.

Fay Voshell holds a M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary, which awarded her a prize for excellence in systematic theology.  Her articles have appeared in National Review, PJMedia, American Thinker, and many other online publications.  She has given lectures on politics and religion and has been a guest on talk radio shows.  She may be reached at fvoshell@yahoo.com.

By now, the whole world is familiar with the snuff films documenting the forced marches and beheadings of orange-jumpsuited Christians by such groups as ISIS.  Churches are blown up or converted into mosques, monuments and tombstones are pulverized or desecrated, and Christian schools are shut down while refugees from the horror of ISIS and other Islamist groups literally flee to the mountains. 

But as it did at the turn of the 20th century, when the harassed and tormented Armenians were exterminated by the hundreds of thousands, the world turns a nearly blind eye to the distress of Christians and groups like the Yazidis, 600 of whom were slaughtered only a heartbeat in time ago.  By and large, the extermination of Christians and Christian culture from the Middle East and Northern Africa is greeted by the West with a sigh or ignored altogether. 

That is because for most Americans, persecution of Christians is perceived as happening only somewhere over there in other countries.  Distance serves as anesthetic.  Certainly it’s not happening here.  Not in the United States of America!  Numbed Christians in America assume they are safe from persecution. 

But they are not safe.

As Msgr. Charles Pope and Johnette Benkovic point out, persecution of a hated segment of society begins gradually and accelerates stage by stage.  Christians in America should recognize they are well into the first stages of persecution.

The first stage begins with attempts to stereotype the targeted group.  Our current president summed up the Christian-hating left’s views of people of faith when in 2008, he categorized working-class voters in the following way: "[I]t's not surprising, then, that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.” 

For Obama, as well as for nearly all the left, people of faith are the inhibitors of “progress,” and they deserve being caricatured as Bible-thumpers, and therefore ignorant, uneducated, backward hicks and rednecks.

Msgr. Pope elaborates:

Catholics, in particular, were also accused of having neurotic guilt and a hatred of or aversion to sexuality.  We were denounced as a sexist institution filled with clergy who were sexually repressed, homosexuals, or pedophiles. We were labeled an authoritarian institution stuck in the past, one with too many restrictive rules. Basically, as the stereotype goes, Catholics and Bible-believing Christians are a sad, angry, boring, backward, repressed lot. To many who accept the stereotype, we are a laughable—even tragic—group caught in a superstitious past, incapable of throwing off the ‘shackles’ of faith.

The second stage of persecution involves justifying hatred of a particular group.  As the progressive religion accelerates and consolidates its agenda, it justifies vilification of Christians who refuse to embrace its tenets of faith.  Christians are portrayed as regressive troglodytes who are determined to resist the hope and change forced on them by the almighty State.  Those who oppose the fundamental transformation the left desires are “described as close-minded, harmful to human dignity and freedom, intolerant, hateful, bigoted, unfair, homophobic, reactionary, and just plain mean and basically bad people.”

Of course, it follows that the history of the Christian church is seen as little more than unrelieved episodes of crusades, inquisitions, repression of scientific knowledge – the repository of everything bad.  Meanwhile, the current-day intellectual heirs of the Enlightenment are held up as the only light Western civilization has known or will ever know.  

The end result, Pope writes, is that “all of this has the effect of creating a self-righteous indignation toward believers and of making anti-Catholic and anti-Christian attitudes a permissible bigotry for many today.”

Stage three involves marginalizing Christians’ role in society.  Because Christianity is seen by the left as harmful to society at large, its immense contributions are downplayed or scorned.  In fact, religion should be exterminated if a just and equal, fundamentally transformed United States is to arise like the proverbial phoenix from the cremation of the superstitious, irrational Christian past and present.  If the Church is allowed to exist, its skeletal remains should exist only within select ossuaries, wherein its outdated and harmful rituals may – just may – be performed by and for the drugged and deluded.

In practice, Monsignor Pope writes, the left’s hatred of religion means that public prayer must be forbidden, Christian influence in public policy eliminated, and Christian holidays secularized.

It follows that Christians must be excluded from places of power and influence, be they in politics, academia, or the media.  All positions of power belong by right to enlightened leftist progressives.

As Chris Matthews recently suggested, Christians, particularly conservative evangelical Christians, have no place in American politics.  “If you’re a politician and believe in God first, that’s all good.  Just don’t run for government office, run for church office,” he tweeted.  Not to be outdone, Mike Dickinson, a Virginia Democrat running for a House seat, tweeted, “Said it proudly!  Want to decimate the Tea Party, The NRA, bible thumpers and Fox News zombies?  Vote for me!”

The fourth stage of persecution involves criminalizing Christians and their churches, businesses, and educational institutions.  Monsignor Pope writes:

An increasing amount of litigation is being directed against the Church and other Christians for daring to live out our faith[.] … It is clear that attempts to criminalize Christian behavior is a growth sector in this culture and it signals the beginning of the steady erosion of religious liberty. Many indeed feel quite righteous, quite politically correct in their work to separate the practice of the faith from the public square.

One of the righteous who openly advocates excision of Christianity from the entire culture is Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who recently stated at the Sixth annual Women in the World Summit that “deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed” for the sake of giving women access to “reproductive health care and safe childbirth. Far too many women are denied access to reproductive health care and safe childbirth, and laws don’t count for much if they’re not enforced.  Rights have to exist in practice – not just on paper.”

Stage five involves persecuting Christians outright.  It may involve forcing Christians to go against historic teaching of the Church by insisting that priests and pastors marry gays, as Frank Bruni of the NY Times recently advocated.  It then may move on to make religious institutions adhere to government “health” mandates, including provision of abortion services. 

It may include the levying of heavy fines, such as the proposed $135,000 fine against bakers who refused to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding.  The general idea is to force the person to perform acts odious to him because of his deeply rooted faith, much like the SS forcing Jews to eat pork on Yom Kippur. 

All of this is to say nothing of the filing of lawsuits against Christians who practice their faith and the proposed denial of tax-exempt status formerly routinely given to churches and Christian charitable and educational institutions.  Persecution could well accelerate to include Henry VIII-style seizure of church property and monies because of Christian leaders’ refusal to bow to the doctrines of the State.  As Pope notes, even jail time for Christians is quite possible: “Already in Canada and in parts of Europe, Catholic clergy have been arrested and charged with ‘hate crimes’ for preaching Catholic doctrine on homosexual activity.”

Finally, as noted at the beginning of this article, the last stage of persecution of Christians ends in their death. 

How should American Christians respond?  What should be done?

First, the American Christian church must rid itself of its neo-Gnostic separation from the world, recognizing that though “not of this world,” it is still in it.  It must forsake its spiritual agoraphobia, its self-limitation to and passive acceptance of a backwater subculture.  It must shake off the temptation to fight old and futile battles and see clearly the new battles before it.  It must shake off its torpor and fight for the rights it has held for hundreds of years.

Christians also must realize they have been deceived by the terms of the left, which successfully persecutes Christians in the name of civil rights and equality.  The battle against Christians in the name of “equality” and “rights” must be seen for what it is; namely, a battle between two inimically opposed religious world views, one of which is historic Christianity, the other of which is a tyrannous statism that seeks to ram its views down Christians’ throats.

Next, it is up to the priests, pastors and other church leaders to educate their congregations as to what is transpiring here in the land of the free.  Last, pastors and priests must prepare themselves and their flocks for civil disobedience.   

The very existence of the Church and Christianity in America is at stake.

Fay Voshell holds a M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary, which awarded her a prize for excellence in systematic theology.  Her articles have appeared in National Review, PJMedia, American Thinker, and many other online publications.  She has given lectures on politics and religion and has been a guest on talk radio shows.  She may be reached at fvoshell@yahoo.com.