On page 11, ICC lists all of the factors that they used to make the decision to include the U.S. among long-time offenders of religious freedoms, especially for Christians.
I’m not sure how I feel about this.
On one hand, I’m not surprised. I’ve been studying persecution for the better part of the past decade now. I’ve also paid attention to God’s Word on the subject and listened to what the experts of Christian organizations who specialize in persecution, like ICC, and saw the writing on the wall.
Eventually persecution comes to all Christians. It’s the way of the world.
18 “If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you. 19 If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. Because you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world—therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you, ‘Servants are not greater than their master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. 21 But they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not have sin. But now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 It was to fulfill the word that is written in their law, ‘They hated me without a cause.’ – John 15:18-25
But on the other hand, I am glad that ICC’s final thought on adding the U.S. to this list was this, because I don’t believe that the U.S. should be included in this report.
“While there is no comparison between the life of a Christian in the US with persecuted believers overseas, ICC sees these worrying trends as an alarming indication of a decline in religious liberty in the United States.”
I’m glad they ended with this because I don’t really think that what we’re experiencing at this point in time in the U.S. could really, truly be classified as persecution. Discrimination in some cases, but not persecution.
I like to look at things from different perspectives. After reading through page 11 several times, I tried to imagine reading it if I knew nothing about trends, freedoms and persecution.
I had a hard time imagining that someone not in the know about persecution would be convinced of ICC’s case with the examples that they gave.
I also cringed when I read this statement:
In short, Christians in the US are facing constant attacks in the media, where they are portrayed as bigoted, racist, sexist, and close-minded.
I have a problem with the words “constant attacks” in this sentence. I don’t think that this is true. I watch an awful lot of news to know it isn’t. Yes, there are some, but constant? No. Attacked? Maybe sometimes verbally.
I think we have a whole lot of misunderstanding about persecution going on in Christian circles right now. I think that a huge part of that is that we have an awful lot of people who read books written by popular prosperity gospel preachers who throw around Jeremiah 29:11 an awful lot and ignore pretty much the rest of the Bible. The problem with believing that Christianity contains some sort of magical incantation-like code in which God only wants to see you happy and rich, besides the fact that it’s not biblical, is that we become crybabies unable to know what it truly means to be able to stand firm in our faith against opposition.
Don’t get me wrong, I admire the work of ICC and similar organizations. I have for a long time.
But, I am almost embarrassed to see that the U.S. on the “Hall of Shame” list of persecutors and offenders of religious freedoms when that list includes North Korea, China, Middle Eastern nations and Russia.
I understand what ICC is trying to do. They’re trying to get Christians to wake up to signs of the times. After all, time and time again history has proven that discrimination leads to persecution regardless of the place on the map. But, did ICC really have to include the U.S. in this report? Wouldn’t it be better if the story was part of a separate press release, article or blog? To include the U.S. in this “Hall of Shame” report just doesn’t seem right when the other governments on the list are imprisoning, torturing and killing Christians. Including the U.S. in this particular report is an insult to those Christians.
It’s like saying “you’ve broken every bone in your body, but I have a paper cut, so our pain is the same.”
I believe that there will come a time when the U.S. can justifiably be added to this list, and that time may come sooner rather than later. But, just not now.