In part one of this series, we saw that Christianity as a faith is persecuted throughout the world by hostile governments. The main threats to the existence of the faith there are direct attempts to physically extinguish or directly control Christianity.
As lethal as the persecution can be in nations where Christianity is outlawed, the effectiveness of such violence against the church is almost the reverse of what the governments desire. More and more the old saying the “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church,” is being fulfilled in modern times.
This is not to justify the terrible suffering of such persecution. It is only to state that many times the strongest and most prolific believers arise from the harshest of circumstances and attract the faithful through their God-given strength.
However, the most successful and insidious attacks against Christianity today come in a less official fashion. From both outside the church and within the fold, the dangers are serious and palpable.
A Dangerous Threat from Outside: Culture vs. Faith
The most serious outside threat to the Christian faith comes within nations where it is legal to practice, but it is generally despised in the popular culture. This situation is common among Western society today and manifests itself in a variety of ways.
A prominent example is the modern American cultural landscape. The sad fact is that the popular culture in the U.S.A. has for the most part aligned against actual Christian practice in a nation founded upon biblical principles.
Of course, Christianity and popular culture have always existed in a somewhat adversarial relationship. After all, Jesus Christ is the most counter-cultural figure in history.
Yet for most of America’s time as a nation, the culture and Christianity have lived in a society where both elements were freely engaged in without much more than an occasional peaceful, verbal disagreement.
The Civil War and the more-recent Civil Rights struggle are some important exceptions, but these did not make up the longest portions of our history. A cursory examination of society today quickly reveals that such peaceful, public engagement is no longer the norm.
For instance, take the case of one Mr. Jack Phillips. He is the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado and is now the target of a third lawsuit for discrimination because he refused to bake a cake for a transgender person. The previous lawsuits failed yet of all the bakers in the Denver area, the LGBT community has consistently singled Phillips out because his faith will not permit him to make and decorate cakes with messages promoting deviant sexuality.
Phillips is but one case of several with similar circumstances. One involved a bakery in Oregon that refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex wedding, and they ended up closing the doors of the bakery because of the costs.
It isn’t only threats through lawsuits that comprise attacks against Christian faith and practice. The line of harassment and assault has also been crossed, particularly when involving peaceful Christian pro-life demonstrators in public.
One prominent instance occurred in April of this year which involved an elected state official from Pennsylvania. You may have heard or read of this incident.
Pennsylvania state Rep. Brian Sims (D) broadcast himself harassing a pro-life woman praying outside a Planned Parenthood clinic in Philadelphia. Sims repeatedly shoved his phone in the woman’s face and boisterously declared, “Shame on you,” ridiculing the demonstrator for more than eight minutes over her opposition to abortion.
There are numerous other examples of such actions, as well as multiple examples of physical assaults. Two of these that made recent news reports and they involved women as the attackers.
One of the attacks happened on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill when a woman attacked and punched a man holding signs at a pro-life display. Another less publicized assault occurred in Roanoke, Virginia when a 15-year-old girl was punched in the face by a woman who tried to steal the girl’s pro-life sign.
A particularly brutal example of one assault in January of 2019 is noteworthy to grasp the growing intensity of these kinds of acts. The following video contains graphic violence which may be disturbing.
What began as a peaceful effort to support the pro-life movement quickly changed as Mr. Roberts kept telling this man that ‘Jesus loves you.’ For that proclamation, he was punched repeatedly, without retaliation or attempting to defend himself, and sustained severe injuries as a result.
Targeting the Peaceful and Public Exercise of Christianity
Perhaps some might claim that these aren’t attacks against Christianity as a faith. I would say that though they may not target beliefs, they certainly target those who peacefully exercise their beliefs.
This brings us to another source of the siege against Christianity, the “non-profit” social organizations that defend the mythical “separation of church and state,” which is not in the Constitution of the United States. Organizations such as the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
This group, in particular, has used the courts to attack any public practice of Christianity from simple prayer, to college sports teams having Chaplains, to WWII memorials with a statue of Jesus. If they can somehow construe a violation of church-state separation, the lawsuits never end, even though they lose most of the time.
Of course, groups like FFRF and the ACLU would claim that they do not target Christians with their many legal tactics. However, I have not heard of such legal actions from them against most other religions, especially against practitioners of Islam.
In fact, the FFRF admits they do not go after Muslims. Their explanation is that they only act on complaints brought to them by their members, and they don’t get many concerning Muslims.
FFRF accordingly receives very few complaints about Muslim violations. We receive very few complaints about Jewish, Hindu, Wiccan or other minority religious entanglements with government, either.
The ACLU and others operate in the same manner while “defending” religious freedom. Which might bring one to ask, ‘Who are the members that bring complaints, and who are they associated with?’
There is one rather extensive but surprisingly little known organization that it itself in concert with the FFRF and the ACLU in church-state separation stances. It is the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs, a group this author was very aware of during my 20 -years as a Baptist minister.
The BJCPA is also the first example of what we will examine in part three, the threats to Christianity from within the Church.
If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. John 15:19 [ESV]
Sources: The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, Crossway Bibles, 2001
Featured and Top Image courtesy of Paul Tomlin’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 1 courtesy of Blink O’fanaye’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 2 courtesy of Victoria Pickering’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 3 courtesy of Ryan Somma’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
All other sources linked or cited in the text
Originally published in TIL Journal