I happened to read an article today where the author said, “It seems with each passing day, more and more people raise the possibility of persecution of Christians in the United States.”
Now, that’s definitely concerning, right? Thankfully, he clarifies himself immediately:
“Many see religious liberty slipping away. Christians are beginning to wonder what the future holds.”
Oh, okay. It turns out we’re not talking about how actual, serious Americans are proposing some sort of diabolical plan to persecute Christians. It’s just, as is so often the case, Christians trying to convince each other that we’re really being persecuted. If you read further, all this concern is because the growth of Christianity in America isn’t keeping pace with the growth of the population.
Well, yeah. That sucks. And I’d argue it’s largely our own fault.
But here’s the deal – not being the majority opinion doesn’t mean you’re being persecuted. Just because people disagree with you, that doesn’t mean your religious liberty is “slipping away.” The government lets people do things you think are wrong? That’s still not persecution. This is supposed to be a country that respects and enshrines the free exchange of opinion, idea, and even religion. So why have we gotten to the point that we’re so freaked out when people actually exercise those rights? Why does it upset us when other people challenge our beliefs?
If we’re going to continue as a religion in this country, we’ve got to accept that:
1. Not everyone agrees with us.
2. That’s okay.
It is completely, 100% alright that not everyone agrees with us. Why on earth did we ever think everyone would?
And let’s not forget – if we’re going to claim that political disagreement equals persecution, then maybe we should think back to the “glory days” of the 90’s – you know, when we tried to boycott and silence everyone we didn’t like? Is that persecution, too, or does it only count when you’re disagreeing with us?
That’s why I think all this boils down to one thing – we’re not in charge anymore. We used to be the majority (or at least we thought we were). Now we’re not, and it’s becoming more and more obvious every day that a growing number of people don’t care what we think – and that’s scary. On the whole, modern American Christians have not established a great reputation as people willing to embrace change. It worries us. It freaks us out. We overreact.
And that takes us back to the point, here. This “persecution” rhetoric is the sort of talk that really, really needs to be toned down. In a world where hundreds of children are being kidnapped by terrorists, where pastors are being thrown in jail or into labor camps, and where people are actually being killed every day because they’ve chosen to believe in Jesus – in that world, it rings a little hollow (and a LOT self-centered) to hear pastors claim that American Evangelicals are being persecuted.
If your biggest problem is that the guy in front of you has a Darwin Fish on his bumper, that does not count as persecution.