Indelibly etched in my memory are the brutal murders of the 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians who were kidnapped in Libya.
The vivid videos and poignant photographs of those men dressed in orange jumpsuits and beheaded on the beach make for searing, unforgettable memories.
Following that horrific event, Muslim gunmen burst into a university in Kenya on April 2 and killed 147 and injured another 79 people who had gathered for a Christian prayer meeting.
World News Daily has reported that 105,000 people are killed every year because of their Christian faith. That means that a Christian died for his/her beliefs every 5 minutes. More martyrs for Jesus Christ died in the 20th century than in all previous 19 centuries combined.
WND declares, “This century will most likely prove to be more repressive and bloody. The world is more anti-Christian than ever since the first centuries in Rome.”
Johan Candelin, writing for Randy Alcorn’s Eternal Perspective Ministries, avows, “In today’s world the largest group of people being persecuted for their faith are Christians. This seems all the more unusual because Christianity is the world’s largest religion.”
Candelin continued, “Incredibly, more than 200 million people in over 60 nations are being denied their basic human rights for one reason only – they are Christians. The main reason Christians are being persecuted today is the simple fact that Christianity is growing fastest in countries where human rights are being violated or do not exist.”
Candelin contends that persecution seems to pass through three phases. The first is disinformation. Disinformation begins more often than not in the media. The media via printed articles, blogs, radio, television, etc., seem to want to rob Christians of their good reputation and their right to answer the accusations made against them.
“In today’s world the largest group of people being persecuted for their faith are Christians.”
We saw much of this even in Georgia in the attempt to get a religious liberty bill passed in the state legislature. The media called the bill “a license to discriminate under the guise of religious beliefs”, even though in more than 20 years there has been no evidence of the national or state RFRAs discriminating against anyone. One media outlet called the legislation an “oppressive religious freedom bill.” Some publicized the bill as “impeding child abuse investigations.”
Macon Circuit District Attorney David Cooke stated at a public gathering, “The arrogance and disingenuousness of those who push this bill will never be forgotten.”
David Bachman spoke at a rally opposing RFRA and stated, “I will not let a small minority of vocal legislators hijack my state.”
Some have said that RFRA “is a tool that can empower some at the expense of others.” It was also reported, “Enacting a religious liberty bill smelling of Jim Crow has created a stink around RFRAs.”
All this disinformation is the equivalent of the straw man fallacy. The opponents of RFRA seemingly ignored the actual position of the proponents of the legislation and substituted a distorted, exaggerated, or misrepresented version of RFRA.
The disinformation approach, or straw man fallacy, works when it: (1) creates the illusion of having completely refuted or defeated an opponent’s proposition by covertly replacing it with a different (i.e., straw man) proposal and (2) when the audience is ignorant or uninformed of the original argument.
Candelin asserts, “The public opinion that easily results from being constantly fed such disinformation will not protect Christians from the second step, which is discrimination. Discrimination relegates Christians to a second-class’ citizenship with inferior legal, social, political, and economic standing than the majority in the country.
“The third stage is persecution. Once the first two steps have been taken, persecution can be practiced without normal protective measures taking place. Persecution can arise from the state, the police or military, extreme organizations, mobs, paramilitary groups, or representatives of other religions.”
I am not suggesting that Christians are being persecuted in America, but it appears to me that we are at the stage of disinformation. Maybe the disinformation is not yet full blown, but there is little doubt that there are ample evidences of it. The negative rhetoric and hyperbole against Christianity is commonplace in America and in some cases has led to discrimination.
Consequently, religious persecution is somewhere around the corner. When it comes will we have the spiritual constitution to endure whatever trials it may bring?
I am not suggesting that Christians are being persecuted in America, but it appears to me that we are at the stage of disinformation.
A fellow church member shared a letter with me from two sisters who are serving Christ in a Muslim-dominated country in the Middle East. They wrote, “You are well aware of what is happening in this country. The attack of the terrorists has opened a new chapter in the history of suffering in this nation.
“When ISIS arrived in our city they gave the Christians a choice of becoming Muslims and remaining safely in their homes or suffering the consequences. Nobody was willing to deny Christ, even the ones who had very little knowledge of our Lord.
“At the time of this crisis the ones who follow our Lord were very courageous and were not afraid of losing their lives, their loved ones and all they had for Him and for His name’s sake. Most of His children, after they found out that there was a threat to their lives for being a Christian, put wooden crosses in front of their homes. The crosses were decorated with lights at night and were very beautiful. They announced that they are Christians and are not going to deny Him and are not afraid of paying any price for following Him.
“Because of the crisis here people are very concerned for their eternal destiny. Hearts are prepared to know Him. He turned the tragedy into triumph. We are thankful to God for the privilege of serving our Lord in this country at this time.”
In Luke 6:22-23 Jesus said, “Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.”
That is the divine attitude we must adopt.
Jesus promised those who follow His teaching would be excluded and rejected, but that’s understandable, because they rejected Him. One of the most powerful desires we have is to be accepted in a crowd. However, there is a real danger in living the kind of life that is always seeking to win the approval of man. Jesus warned against that in Luke 6:26 when He said, “Woe to you when all men speak well of you.”
Jesus does not teach us to be unkind or ill tempered toward those who may be our adversaries. In fact, he says, “Love our enemies.”
It boils down to this question: Will we choose to please God or men in this life? If you live only to please other people, chances are you will displease God. However, if your driving passion is to please God, most people will not accept you, because they do not accept God’s Word.