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Austin Cline

Christian Power and Persecution

By February 26, 2013

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In America, a large number of Christians have developed a persecution complex. They are convinced that they are being persecuted all over the place, with enemies lurking everywhere. The truth is that what they are experiencing isn't anything close to genuine persecution, not in any systematic sense. It's rare for it to even rise to the level of discrimination.

Bully Shouting
Getty Photo: John Cumming / Photodisc

The reality is that Christians are experiencing a shift in the wider American culture. First, their beliefs and traditions aren't being taken for granted anymore. There was a time that Christian beliefs were reflected back to Christians everywhere and that's simply no longer the case.

Second, Christians are no longer being given special access to the government -- government institutions, government events, etc. -- to promote their beliefs and agenda. It wasn't too long ago that it was normal for Christians in government to abuse their position to promote their personal religion.

James F. McGrath writes:

American Christians seem to desire persecution. And that is understandable, since the Bible says that those who truly follow Jesus and stand for righteousness will be persecuted.

The appropriate response is not to cry persecution even when not suffering it. That doesn't fool anyone.

The appropriate response is to ask what you could do to actually stand against injustice and for righteousness. Maybe if you stood in the way of big corporations and wealthy power brokers trampling on the powerless, you would find out what persecution means.

Maybe if you stood with the oppressed instead of trying to get in bed with the powers that be to share in their worldly power in order to oppress others, you would realize that there are those who do face persecution, bullying, enslavement, and many other horrors in the world - and that you may have at least contributed to the climate that allows that to continue.

Maybe then, you'll have taken up your cross and begun to follow the crucified Messiah.

Since American Christians are not actually being persecuted, does it follow that they are not truly following Jesus? Logically it does - the conditional "if A then B" means "If not-B then not-A." So if it is true that "if you are a true Christian then you will be persecuted for it" then it is also true that "if you are not being persecuted for your religion then you are not being a true Christian."

March 1, 2013 at 9:16 pm
(1) Dr Blair says:

We have a tremendous amount of history to tell us that when a religion gets temporal power, it oppresses anybody who doesn’t follow it. For example, the Church of England was as oppressive as the Roman Catholic Church that it overthrew.

March 2, 2013 at 6:44 pm
(2) Marvin says:

I had to chuckle at your conclusion, Austin. Nicely done.

I was surprised to learn McGrath is a Christian. I’ve come to expect professed Christians to be a bit vacuous when it comes to religion and politics, so it’s quite a surprise to find one making sense.

August 4, 2013 at 9:03 am
(3) Kay says:

Our mission is not about defending our faith, attacking or judging those who belief different. Our faith we are charged to submit to the will of God and carry out a Grand Commission of uplifting EVERYONE to bring them closer to God. Because I am, a sinner is difficult to not respond with immediate anger and negative judgment. I don’t have to. This battle was one for me by Jesus Christ when he was arrested, tortured, humiliated, tortured more, crucified and died. He suffered the greatest persecution and defeated the cross so I don’t have to hate or anger or reject anyone, no matter what they believe. God’s love and grace is for everyone, EVERYONE, EVERYONE!!!! Atheists, the poor, the sick, the unlawful in our society. Christians are sinners and will falter their faith at some point. This is why it is important to do more than be physically present at church once a week. Christians must change their HEARTS for God! We must forgive, be humble, pray, study the Bible, study theology, always evaluate ourselves on the Christian moral code, accept and have brotherly love for everybody. We must ask God for patience, strength to bring compassion and understanding when we feel attacked to respond with gentleness and kindness. And to always do Gods work, not our own work.. It is true and historically proven that Christians were persecuted. But did Jesus cry “persecution, attack, this is wrong, look what you’re doing to me or strike them down!”. No!!! Jesus Christ cried “Father, into your hands I submit my spirit and forgive them!”. The appropriate response as a Christian is to carry the cross, stand against injustice, inhumane treatment, fight against oppression and greed, to give up our own self-glory and petty desires. You are correct Christians are unworthy worldly human sinners. And I have never had so much perpetual eternal joy and peace in my life since I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior and became one. Thank you for always renewing the Christian Spirit!

August 9, 2013 at 3:37 pm
(4) John Thomson says:


What if we DON’T want to be uplifted to your particular imaginary friend? Is there room in your dogma infused brain for that likelihood? I promise most people don’t want or need your presumptuous harping. That includes most Christians.

You belong in a theocracy not America. Your attitude is anathema to a thriving secular republic which is how America was designed. You don’t get to force your views on everyone.

August 11, 2013 at 6:08 pm
(5) TJOzzie says:

Kay, you said:

This battle was one for me by Jesus Christ when he was arrested, tortured, humiliated, tortured more, crucified and died. He suffered the greatest persecution and defeated the cross…

Did you know that each and every part of that was borrowed from other OLDER religions? Look up Mithris, Krishna, Zoroaster, Dionysus, Apollo, Horus, and several other old religious figures. You’ll find that many were born on 12/25 – of a virgin, had the king try to kill them as infants, started preaching at 30, taught for 3 years, performed miracles, were captured, tortured, and killed on a cross (or a tree, etc.), rose from the dead three days later, and ascended into heaven after a short period (often 40 days).


August 11, 2013 at 6:09 pm
(6) TJOzzie says:


It is true and historically proven that Christians were persecuted. But did Jesus cry “persecution, attack, this is wrong, look what you’re doing to me or strike them down!”. No!!! Jesus Christ cried “Father, into your hands I submit my spirit and forgive them!”

Your facts are more or less correct, but out of order. “Christians” didn’t exist for quite a while AFTER the time of Jesus. They weren’t ‘persecuted’ until still later. Jesus was tried as a ‘rabble-rouser’ and enemy of Rome. Crucifiction was a means of death reserved for political enemies of Rome. No other group within their domains were allowed to use it as a form of execution – including the Jews. He cried out (if he actually did – the gospels disagree) because he was in pain and dying. (As an aside – most persons crucified took 2-3 days to die, not 3 hours.)

Christians are unworthy worldly human sinners.

Really? Unworthy of what, exactly? Many of the Christians I know are very nice people, though no more or less so than the atheists, Jews, and Wiccans I also count as friends. They (and I) donate money to worthy causes, volunteer for various worthwhile groups, and generally try to be nice to those around us, helping where we can. It’s your religion that is telling you that you (and we) are unworthy. It is a form of control that has been used for centuries.

Look into history. Read your Bible – cover to cover, not just the ‘safe bits’ the priest/minister feeds to you at services. Most of us atheists are more familiar with your holy book than you are. Many of us ARE atheists because we read the Bible.


August 11, 2013 at 7:31 pm
(7) Jeanne says:

Kay: The problem is, it is always humans doing the talking. If you talk to ten different Christians, you will probably get ten different opinions on what “god” wants. Another problem is that Christianity is not a single solitary religion but a fragmented belief system with many denominations. This fragmentation is a direct result of the freedoms we enjoy as Americans. With freedom of speech, press and assembly, people have access to different viewpoints and with freedom of religion, people are free to follow what they believe to be the true path. I respect your right to believe as you choose and I am sure that you are sincere, but you also have to understand that others have come to different conclusions and you need to respect that. Much of the strife in the world has come from people disrespecting others and believing that they and they alone are in possession of the truth and that anyone who disagrees is evil or in league with some demonic force. I do not believe that Christians or anyone else are unworthy or sinners. Yes, we make mistakes and, hopefully , learn from them. What good has this “sacrifice” done? It is immoral to punish an innocent person for the crimes of others and downright silly to punish an innocent person for crimes that might be committed in the future. That would be like punishing you because a great-great-grandson “might” rob a bank. The bible does state that the greatest sin is “unbelief”. So, that would mean that thought crimes are worse than murder, rape robbery, child molestation, elder abuse, bigotry, hatred, slavery, and all the other terrible things that people to to each other. Wouldn’t a much more moral stance be to treat each other with respect and dignity and value each other as human beings, rather than cling to ancient myths?

September 4, 2013 at 10:59 am
(8) edwapa says:

Maybe my eyes and ears aren’t open enough but I just don’t see the fight against those oppressors such as Walmart as I do when Xtians believe Xmas or school prayer or ten commandment display is being attacked. With all that Walmart and the like does to keep wages and benefits low I’d think Xtians would fight them as Jesus allegedly did against the Romans. Or could it be they feel that low wages/benefits IS their persecution? That would make sense if and only if they were also fighting for higher wages. But I’m not seeing picket lines or unions in Walmart anytime soon.

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