Courtesy Shane Raynor
In December, Pope Benedict XVI declared that Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world. I’m not sure of the methodology used to determine this, so I can’t speak to the truth of it. This is not new. Back in 2006, John Mark Ministries reprinted an article from someone named Anthony Brown, “Europe Correspondent of The Times” (yes, just that vague) that stated “There are now more than 300 million Christians who are either threatened with violence or legally discriminated against simply because of their faith – more than any other religion.” Again, since I don’t know where their numbers came from I can’t dispute them. Now,as the JMM post says, we’re not talking about Christians being fed to the lions or anything like that. The persecution is more along the lines of being treated as a second-class citizen, imprisonment, violence, relocation and forced conversion. Of course, I could point out that these are all things that Christians have done in the past, but that would upset people like Rick Santorum. Besides, I gave up mean-spirited comments for Lent and saying that just wouldn’t be nice. In fact, I had all intentions of leaving this alone because there are places where Christians are persecuted and I didn’t want to come off as a jerk. The Vatican screwed that up for me today with their pronouncement that Christians who, because of their faith, criticize gay people are “under attack”. I had a feeling something like this was going to come out after Benny made his pronouncement.
Archbishop Silvano Tomasi told the United Nations Human Rights Council on Tuesday”People are being attacked for taking positions that do not support sexual behaviour between people of the same sex…, When they express their moral beliefs or beliefs about human nature … they are stigmatised, and worse – they are vilified, and prosecuted. These attacks are violations of fundamental human rights and cannot be justified under any circumstances“. You know, he might have a point if he were talking about people who were protesting injustice rather than perpetrating it. LGBT people in the U. S. are treated as second-class citizens, they’re the frequent victims of violence, they’re forcibly “converted” from gay to straight and, worst of all, they’re marginalized and ostracized by the very organization that should be lining up to to help them; the church. That’s the plus side of the ledger; in many countries, being anything other than straight will get you killed. Saying that “people of faith” are persecuted because they get called out for being narrow-minded, sometimes viscious bigots is a slap in the face to anyone who’s ever been crushed by an oppressive system.
As I read the pope’s words about Christians being persecuted, I realized he meant it was a bad thing. But, I keep coming back to what Shane Claiborne said about Christianity and persecution: “Christianity is at its best when it is peculiar, marginalized, suffering, and it is at its worst when it is popular, credible, triumphal, and powerful.” In the light of the words of a representative of the largest denomination of the world’s largest religion, this rings especially true.