…the feeling of being persecuted especially without basis in reality (from the Merriam Webster medical dictionary)
The above definition has become the quintessential explanation for modern-day American Evangelical/fundamentalism. And many within this community buy into it without question. The latest example comes from the Town of Cheektowaga (a suburb of Buffalo, NY), where Joelle Silver a Christian teacher in the Cheektowaga school system is suing the district for violating her first amendment rights. She made to remove four posters with Bible passages on them.
This is just the latest in a line of complaints from the religious right, that “religious freedom” is being usurped. And that we Christians, in particular, are experiencing the brunt of this hatred, citing prayer and Bible reading being removed from schools to replacing the phrase Merry Christmas with Happy Holidays and the “war” on Christmas as clear evidence that persecution is in full swing.
Let’s just step back a moment and reflect on what it means to “live out our Christian life” and see if we are under attack for the radical left.
Sure, some things have been changing over the last few decades, Christianity in America has held a privileged position for a long time, and at one time it dominated American culture. But America is not a Christian nation, it was created as a secular nation by men that were products of the Enlightenment. They themselves were well aware of what having a dominate religion in a society can do to the people living in that culture.
Over the years since it’s founding, America has now become a nation filled with ethnic, racial, and religious/non-religious individuals and groups that do not espouse Christianity. Therefore, our nation has had to adapt and change. It would be disingenuous of a nation touting freedom and equality for all to allow one religion to dominate the public sector. I am not saying that Christians shouldn’t have a voice in the public square, what I am saying is that Christians are now one of many equal voices.
But the core actions of the Christian faith, “the living out” part, have not been prohibited. There is no laws in place that tell the Christian that they…
cannot pray to, or worship God at any time and in any place in the secret place of your mind and heart
cannot care for the poor, the widow, the oppressed, and the orphan
cannot read your Bible in your free time at work or in school
cannot have conversations about spirituality when invited too, or when it is appropriate.
cannot worship in one of the over 300.00 churches in existence in America.
We as Christians have all the freedom in the world to live out our faith at home, in the workplace, and in school. That is because there is no restriction on how much we can love and respect another person. Perhaps if American Christians spent time caring more about the needs of others and less time whining about perceived persecution maybe more people would be attracted to the One who relinquished all His rights to show us His unconditional love.