Saturday, July 11, 2015

Persecuted Christians

Persecution is a word freely thrown about these days in some religious circles.  A rapidly secularizing USA plus a string of major judicial and political victories by LGBTs since 2012 causes certain people who once dominated political and cultural conversation in this country to now feel marginalized.  The evangelical and fundamentalist right wing and right wing Catholics who enjoyed a hegemony in politics and religion in the USA for almost 40 years are in the novel position of finding themselves on the losing side of political struggles and demographic trends.
People who are used to being in charge and who once expected deference -- people who could fill stadiums with supporters and could swing elections, who were respectfully deferred to by the press and courted by mayors, senators, and Presidents -- are now mocked and vilified regularly and with impunity.  The religious right is unaccustomed to finding itself in this position.  It is not used to being mocked, or even worse, ignored.  It is not used to spending money, rallying supporters, lining up politicians on their side and losing.

Those claiming the copyright to the designation "Christian" are now crying "persecution!" as though a wave of pogroms is about to break over them like Jews in Eastern Europe after the assassination of Tsar Alexander II or on the eve of the Holocaust.  Joe Jervis at JoeMyGod regularly shares examples of the feverish dramatic paranoid rantings of religious right wing extremists on his blog.
Here's another from Glenn Beck:

And yet, no one in this country is charged an extra tax, denied housing, barred from certain professions, segregated into designated areas, watched by the police, refused service by businesses and barred from public transport, regularly threatened with violence, or attacked by mobs for being a Christian.  All of those things did happen (and still happen) to gays and lesbians.  A self-identified Christian in the USA can take it for granted that she can walk, ride a bus, or drive a car to church on Sunday morning in safety and count on arriving at a church that is intact and well maintained with no mobs outside threatening the congregation during divine service.

These claims of "persecution!" ring especially hollow in the face of very real persecution of Christians in the Middle East.  The Christian population throughout the Middle East is in rapid decline in the midst of the long bloody war between Sunnis and Shiites that is tearing the region apart.  Religious fanaticism threatens the ancient religious diversity of the region with Jews, Bahais, Yazidis, Druze, and others joining Christians as they leave the region in droves.  Some of the world's oldest Christian communities in Syria, Iraq, and Palestine are on the verge of extinction in their native countries.  You are now more likely to hear Aramaic, the historic language of Jesus, in a suburban Chicago supermarket than you could in Syria or Lebanon.  Christians are targets of mob violence and legal persecution from Egypt to Pakistan, and they are routinely massacred by Daesh.

 A Coptic Church in Egypt destroyed by arson.

A Protestant church in Syria destroyed by a mob.

Daesh about to execute Egyptian Christians in Libya

Lest we forget on this 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica Massacre, Christians as we all know can dish it out.

When dealing with people who are not Us, we have a choice between the Golden Rule and the Iron Rule; between treating other people as we would want to be treated, and doing to others before they do to us.  No religion or philosophy has any copyright on either of those two Rules.

If people decide to ever refight the wars of the 12th and 13th centuries, then count me out.

Even in the midst of so much despair, there are little flickers of hope and decency.

Muslims guarding a Catholic church in Lahore, Pakistan

Christians guarding Muslims at prayer in Egypt during protests in Cairo

1 comment:

JCF said...

If Glenn Beck wanted to, like the women and men shown above, go nonviolently guard that church in Pakistan then in all sincerity, more power to him.

But let him then experience there actual Powerlessness, instead of whining from (only slightly diminished) Power-Over. Kenosis (self-emptying), like Jesus.