Understanding Christian Persecution in America


December 2005

Dear Ministry Partner,

What about the persecution of Christians and Christianity in America? What is happening with the restrictions and removal of everything from prayer & the Ten Commandments in schools, outlawing the teaching of Creation & Intelligent Design, and now stores in America not saying "Merr
y Christmas"? What does the future hold — and how will it affect you?

The Bible teaches a lot about persecution of believers for their faith, from the classic Daniel in the lions' den to the Apostle Paul being imprisoned and beaten. True believers have always been a minority on the earth — from the tiny Hebrew nation in the Old Testament to the current statistics of Christians in the world today. The most Christian nation, America, has around 40% of people who claim to have had a born-again experience (according to Gallop and Barna polls) and the percentage has actually risen over the last 15 years from about 32%. But we are still a minority of the population. And of course, the worldwide percentage of born-again Christians would be smaller — likely nearer to 15 or 20%. Scripture frequently refers to believers as the "remnant," and Jesus said in Matthew 7:14 that "few" would be those who find eternal life. So God never realistically expected born-again Christians to be the majority.

The scriptures were given as a reference book for all believers worldwide, so the Bible deals a lot with the "typical" experience of Christians — which is readily understood and related to by most of the believers worldwide, many of whom are in the "persecuted church" in China, North Korea, Russia, India, Indonesia, the Middle East, etc. The experience of Christians in America has been "atypical" or unusual (compared to the rest of the world) because of the founding of this nation primarily by Christians as a sanctuary for the Christian faith. And since there are obviously no more unpopulated land masses to flee to from persecution, this nation is experiencing "the last stand" of believers who need to stand up and overcome persecution much like our spiritual forefathers Daniel and Paul. Will we have the commitment, the intestinal fortitude, and the willingness to finance ministries to save Christianity in America and deliver it from the hands of the "Nebuchadnezzers" who want to throw the Christians into the fiery furnaces and the lions' dens?

The good news is that the "persecutors" of Christians in America are still a distinct minority. Those who officially classify themselves as Godless liberals (where most of the attacks on Christianity have come from) are only 20% of the American population. For additional perspective on the statistics of major groups, registered Democrats and Republicans are each very close at around 33 to 34% of the population. Additionally, statistics are that likely 80 to 85% of Americans claim to actively identify with the Christian faith, and only around 4 to 6% claim to be atheists. Only about 2% of the population are Moslems. And only about 2% are practicing homosexuals. The essence of the current problem in America is two-fold. First, people who are against Christianity have slowly worked their way into positions of influence in media and politics. Second, Christians have slowly stopped being as "Christian" as they used to be. Both of these problems can be fixed, but as you observe other nations worldwide which once were predominantly Christian (like England and France), you discover that Christians can let their countries go secular. The Bible (actually Jesus Himself) instructs believers to be "salt" — which for thousands of years was used to prevent decay.

Christians are not supposed to embrace, welcome, or encourage persecution. Some sincere but uninformed believers have thought persecution somehow purified the church. Persecution does not purify the believers, it just runs off the ones who are not committed — so that the few who are willing to face imprisonment or death for Jesus still show up for the "underground" church services. Jesus Himself said persecution is not good for Christianity, He said it steals the Word and causes believers to fall away — not become purified (Mark 4:14-17).

Most of the persecution in America is not done overtly as "attacks on Christians". It is more subtle, like being passed over for a job or promotion because the decision maker is aware of your Christianity, or like the neighbor or relative who does not speak to you much because he or she thinks you are a "religious fanatic". This is still persecution. It is designed to hold you back, discourage you, depress your finances, and stop your Christianity in general (We should "leap for joy" that we have achieved enough visible Christianity that the unGodly recognize it and oppose us — Luke 6:23). While the milder "American" form of persecution is certainly preferable to being killed for your faith as happens in some countries — all persecution should be resisted, opposed, and prevented in any way feasible. In America at this time, all it would take is for every Christian to simply vote for the most Christian candidates. Many Christians don't even vote, much less pray and fast for our nation's spiritual condition. But this nation can be turned around one step at a time if every Christian just decided to be "salt" in our society.

Jesus said, "In this world you will have tribulation" but He went on point out that as He overcame it, we could, too (John 16:33). The challenge Jesus is laying before us is to overcome the persecution — to live for Him, not just die for Him. Jesus is not for persecution — it was not something from God, which is why Jesus had to overcome it. We should, too.

Persecution of any kind is painful. It is all a form of rejection, and we need to walk in love and forgive our persecutors just as Jesus forgave those who crucified Him. Unforgiveness is a trap that we should be alert to not fall into. We need to recognize that the "attack" on us at work, with our neighbors or family, or even at church — is just Satan trying to find someone to cooperate with him to try to inhibit our Christianity. God have mercy on their souls, they have the judgement of God to look forward to — but we need to have a forgiving attitude.

The authors of our current cultural persecution want to re-define what correct behavior is. They want bad behavior to be acceptable, and Christian behavior to be unacceptable. The haters of what is good and decent want to be able to broadcast four-letter profanity on TV, but not allow people to say "Merry Christmas" in public! God spoke through the prophet Isaiah and addressed this, "Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil" (Isaiah 5:20).

It is time to be a doer of the Word of God, and stand up for what is right, true, honest, just, and pure (Phil. 4:8). It is time to advance the Gospel and not retreat. It is time to evangelize and win the lost to rescue our culture. It is time to get our children discipled in the Word of God, read through our Bibles, and have a regular prayer life. We need to have strong Christian families, committed marriages, and the gifts of the Spirit flowing in our lives. The spiritual war has overtaken America, and we dare not be found AWOL by our Commander and Lord.

It would be a shame for us to recoil in fear from persecution in America. Our brothers and sisters are wearing martyr's crowns in Heaven for standing up when faced with true threats of death. I cannot imagine meeting them in Heaven some day and them knowing I would not put a Bible on my desk at work because I was afraid people would say bad things about me! God, deliver us from a wimp spirit! It is worth losing a few customers to preserve our witness.

An important step we can take to re-claiming our Christian heritage is to "vote" with our checkbook. What we support with our finances makes a world of difference. If we pay Hollywood for their movies, videos, and "entertainment," we support the opposition. However, if we support ministry, then we are putting the opposition out of business. It takes money to mass produce sin, and it takes money to mass produce the teaching of the Word of God. With your help, we can work together in pushing back darkness and pushing forward God's Word!

Publishing the Answer,

Dale & Judi Leander


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