Persecution of Christians in America?
As a Christian husband, father, and pastor born and raised right here in the heart of the deep south and the buckle of the Bible belt in North Georgia, I have witnessed during my lifetime a cultural turning of the tide toward Christianity.
Many of my Christian friends and acquaintances as of late have begun to sound the alarm with cries of “persecution.” Merriam-Webster defines “persecute” as “to harass or punish in a manner designed to injure, grieve, or afflict,” adding “specifically: to cause to suffer because of belief.”
Obviously, by the very definition of the term, there are degrees of persecution, and based upon those degrees, I suppose we all have to face this sort of blight upon humanity in some way, shape, or form. With that in mind, allow me to point out a few observations regarding Christians’ persecution in America.
Should We Use the Word Persecution in the US?
First of all, I would encourage my fellow Christians in America to be careful about opting to use the word “persecution” as their first recourse in situations where they feel they have been wronged. This is mainly due to the severity, or the lack of seriousness, of our mistreatment in the United States.
While our freedoms are eroding daily, and while the cultural tide has turned in a decidedly hostile direction toward Christians and Judeo-Christian values, we are still blessed with the space to gather for worship and speak out in favor or against things based upon our biblical convictions.
This is something that many of our Christian brothers and sisters in other parts of the world can only dream about.
Maybe it’s just me, but it seems a bit obtuse to cry “persecution” for things that, by comparison to what others are facing abroad, amounts to little more than discrimination, harassment, and hurt feelings.
That being said, I’m fully aware that the recent events throughout last year leading into this year in terms of dealing with the pandemic have raised awareness of the ways persecution could potentially become commonplace right here in the communities where we live.
Those events culminated in fines being levied against Churches for gathering in the face of local and state government restrictions around COVID-19, most notably in states like California, as well as lawsuits being filed in an attempt to stand up for the legal rights of those Churches.
Once again, the fact that we still have legal recourse in this nation to fight against anything we deem to be “persecution” is something that Christians in many parts of the world know nothing about.
Growing Christian Persecution in the U.S.?
Are Christians in America seeing more and more of what can rightfully be called “persecution” targeted toward them? Absolutely, but for me, it’s hard to cry “persecution” when I have brothers and sisters losing their lives for their faith in Christ in other places.
That brings me to the second observation. Indeed, Christians in America are facing persecution by the most straightforward and least severe definition of the term. But just because it’s not the most injurious form of hostility faced by Christians worldwide does not mean that we should ignore it or turn a blind eye.
It’s a great reminder of some biblical promises. Everyone loves to hold onto the promises of Scripture, right? Not always! How about the security of 2 Timothy 3:12 (KJV)?
“Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”
The fact of the matter is that we should expect it, and we shouldn’t be surprised when it arises within our communities and our country as a whole.
Christians in the United States have enjoyed a degree of freedom that has made our profession of faith in Christ relatively cheap compared to our Christian brothers and sisters living in lands where the discovery of merely owning a Bible could cost them life and limb.
It should come as no surprise when real persecution genuinely begins to grow in America.
Read the first four verses in Acts chapter 8, and you’ll find that it’s the pattern of God to push His people out of their comfort zone by allowing pain and pressure to enter their lives . . . often historically, the pain and stress of persecution. It’s not wise to take our freedom for granted or exaggerate the severity of the problems we currently face.
It is wise to recognize abuse and hatred toward religious beliefs and culture early on and take a firm stance for liberty before things get worse.
Observation number three, many American Christians give lip service to the notion of freedom. Still, they don’t understand what liberty means nor why it should be “True North” on their political compass. Every election cycle brings this to light.
There’s typically a Republican candidate who panders to Christian conservatives on the right, and there’s a Democrat candidate who panders to the compassionate crowd on the left. Generally, neither side believes in liberty.
They only endorse freedom as long as it’s the freedom to say and do things they agree with. Consequently, upon acquiring political power, each side passes measures and implements controls that grant the government new levels of authority typically never reclaimed by the citizens.
In America, we have the Constitutional Republic with a Constitution designed to protect us from Democracy in its purest form, which is Socialism . . . majority (mob) rule. The whole idea is to preserve the liberties of those who find themselves part of a minority.
The problem is that many of the people on both the right and left will gladly give up liberty in exchange for leveraging the authoritarian power of government to coerce the behavior of those on the opposite side.
American Christians, little by little, are forfeiting their biblical mandate to exert a godly influence over their nation in exchange for government mandates that have a lot more to do with controlling offensive behaviors than preserving liberty.
You see, faithful Christ-followers will never comprise a lasting numeric majority of the population. Jesus made this clear with His statement in Matthew 7:14 (KJV),
“strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”
That means every time well-meaning, but misguided Christians support the passage of a law that’s designed to coerce and control rather than preserve and protect the rights of individuals to life, liberty, and personal property, we are giving the opposing side the power that they will eventually use to “persecute” us when they’re in charge.
We are not living in a theocracy, and the New Testament does not teach a puritanical dominion theology. Christians are to strive for cultural dominance by force of law.
We live in the Constitutional Republic with democratic processes. As such, we should take our stand on liberty . . . even when that means freedom to say and do things we oppose as long as those things don’t infringe upon the rights of others.
In conclusion, yes, there is a rise in the persecution of Christians in America, but many of the Christians’ cries in crisis ring hollow in light of the severity of Christian persecution in many foreign lands. That doesn’t mean that the cries of persecution are not valid.
It means that Christians would serve God’s people to keep things in perspective and recognize that the harassment being faced currently is only the beginning. Opt for more specific terms like discrimination and hostility so that the word “persecution” has a more potent meaning when it’s time to face the same kinds of atrocities that Christians in places like North Korea and Saudi Arabia are facing.
Things will get much worse in the future, and it would be wise to pursue the preservation of freedom and liberty now while we still have a peaceful means to do so.
Josh attended seminary through Rock of Ages Baptist Bible Institute out of Cleveland, TN. He has held about every position one could hold in a local church: Sunday school teacher, Children’s Church Preacher, Bus Ministry Director/Worker, Missions Director, Choir Director, Song Leader, Janitor, etc. In October of 2005, he was ordained as an Assistant Pastor at Rest Haven Baptist Church, and that’s where he served until God called him into the Pastorate at Enon Baptist Church in Alto, GA at the age of 32. He stepped out by faith in obedience to God’s instructions and quickly received a call from Blessed Hope Baptist Church in Free Home, GA where he now serves as Pastor. In his free time, Josh enjoys spending quality time with his wife (who is his high school sweetheart) and three children: Zoey, Ava, and Jack, as well as reading, writing, hunting, cooking, weight lifting, and martial arts.