And Another Thing…

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Picking the Right Fights

The Christian Anti-Defamation Commission (CADC) is a not-for-profit 501(c) (3) Education Corporation whose purpose it is to become the first-in-mind champion of Christian religious liberty, domestically and internationally, and a national clearing house and first line of response to anti-Christian defamation, bigotry, and discrimination. The CADC will work constructively to advance a robust religious liberty in public opinion and policy so that Christians everywhere might fulfill their biblical duties to God and neighbor; to proclaim and to live out the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the whole counsel of the Word of God.The CADC will respond in the media to attacks by any individual person or groups of persons, institutions, or nations that defame and /or discriminate against Christ, Christianity, the Holy Bible, Christian churches and institutions, Christian individuals, and Christian leaders.

– From the mission statement of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission

The CADC has released a list of the seven worst anti-Christian events of 2007. I will list them below in bold (as printed in the Austin-American Statesman) with my own thoughts on each one following in normal print.

1.) Colorado Church Murders – “You Christians brought this on yourselves I’m coming for EVERYONE soon and I WILL be armed to the @#%$ teeth and I WILL shoot to kill. … God, I can’t wait till I can kill you people. Feel no remorse, no sense of shame, I don’t care if I live or die. …” Posted by a troubled young man, Matthew Murray, 10 hours after killing two at the Arvada missionary base and two hours before killing two at a Colorado Springs church. Churches used to be considered sanctuaries, but now they are targets for the hateful and the deranged. The CADC calls on every church to be prepared to use deadly force, if necessary, to protect their congregations.

Okay, it should go without saying that an armed maniac attacking a church building with the intent of killing people qualifies as persecution. However, does this constitute a trend in society or a tragic incident of one very disturbed individual acting out his delusions? Should we respond with armed security or prayers for the families of the perpetrator and his victims?  I think that the behavior of our Amish friends in Lancaster, PA in response to the massacre at West Nickel Mines School provides an example.

2.) Federal Hate Crimes Bill – The 2007 Federal Hate Crimes Bill, which threatens religious liberties and lays the groundwork for “thought crime,” which has no place in American law and violates the concept of equal protection under the law. As has occurred in other nations, these laws pave the way for Christians to be silenced and even arrested because they believe that homosexual acts are sinful. It is totalitarian regimes that punish thoughts, not free societies. Thomas Jefferson declares that “the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions.”

Personally, I have a problem with the concept of a “hate crime” because we cannot legislate attitudes. Hate is sinful and ignorant, but a sinful and ignorant attitude is not a crime.  However, this law explicitly addresses acts of violence directed at minorities (specifically homosexuals), not statements about their behavior. In fact, there is a clause in the bill which prohibits banning any speech that is protected under the First Amendment. In other words, this bill will not prohibit any religious group from teaching that homosexual behavior is sinful.

3.) Violence on San Francisco Church – In September, Christians in San Francisco spoke out against a blasphemous anti-Christian advertisement for the Folsom Street Fair, a perverted “fair” for the sadomasochistic, leather fetish community. The ad mimics the classic Christian painting of Christ at the Last Supper. In the ad, Christ and the 12 Disciples are portrayed as sexual deviants provocatively posed before a table of sex toys.

Nasty? Offensive? Despicable? Absolutely. But violent? I don’t think so. And does making a fuss over it accomplish anything other than drawing more attention to it?  I am going to leave it to God to square this one.

4.) Attack on Jerry Falwell – CNN reached a new low when Anderson Cooper invited Christopher Hitchens, editor of Vanity Fair Magazine, on his show the day of Jerry Falwell’s death to make critical remarks about Falwell. Hitchens made the most reprehensible and offensive remarks one can imagine against a Christian minister, Jerry Falwell, even on the day of his death. Christopher Hitchens called Falwell “a little toad … a horrible little person…an evil old man… a conscious charlatan and bully and fraud…an actual danger to democracy, to culture, to civilization.”

It is low class to speak ill of the recently departed, especially on the day of their passing. But do we expect anything different from Hitchens, the author of a recent religion-basing bestseller called God is Not Great?  Somehow, I doubt that Falwell is terribly concerned, wherever he may be.  And is an attack on Falwell really an attack on the whole of Christendom?  Hitchens may have meant it as such, and the CADC may take it as such, but somehow the faith has survived both his little screed and his comments on CNN.

5.) CNN’s “God’s Warriors” and HBO’s “Friends of God” – Two biased, anti-Christian documentaries were produced and aired. One by Nancy Pelosi’s daughter, Alexandra, “Friends of God” on HBO and the other by CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, “God’s Warriors.” At least they tried to act as if they wanted to be fair. Of course, they failed. Evangelicals are almost 100 million strong and very diverse but are reduced to clichéd caricatures or are portrayed as the moral equivalents of Islamic terrorists.

The Lord already has this one covered:

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

– Matthew 5:11-12 (NIV)

6.) John Edwards’s Campaign Bloggers who called Christian supporters of President Bush his “wing nut Christofascist base.” One asked, ‘What if Mary had taken Plan B after the Lord filled her with his hot, white, sticky Holy Spirit,’ to which she replied, ‘You’d have to justify your misogyny with another ancient mythology.’ They posed the thoughtful question of religious conservatives, “What don’t you lousy %#*@!+# understand about keeping your noses out of our britches, our beds and our families?”

Yes, these comments are thoughtless and tacky, more reflective of the authors than of their intended targets. These comments are directed at Bush supporters, not all Christians.  By their response, it would appear that the CADC thinks that all Christians must be Bush supporters. Not so, folks. Besides, do these comments really contain anything new?  Stereotyping anyone who raises questions about abortion as a misogynist is a classic ad hominem distraction used by abortion advocates to confuse the issue.

7.) “Golden Compass,” the movie – Phillip Pullman’s atheistic answer to C.S. Lewis’ “Chronicles of Narnia” series, because destroying the church and killing God in the mind of every child is the best revenge. Why be damned alone when you can take a few million souls with you and get rich on the proceeds?

It’s a movie, kids; and apparently not a terribly successful one with critics or with the public.  According to the Rotten Tomatoes website, it has only scored a 42% positive rating among the nation’s film critics and has taken in $48,413,000.  While that may seem like a lot of money, it is less than half of the film’s estimated budget of $150 million.

However, suppose it had been a hit. Would that really matter in the big scheme of things? Anyone whose faith is undermined by a single film (or even a trilogy of films) has far more serious problems than offended sensibilities.

__________

I have to say that I believe that the faith is bigger than any of these events.  The gospel has survived far worse, and continues to thrive despite real persecution throughout parts of Africa and Asia and most of the Muslim world.  Are we American Christians so thin-skinned and spoiled that we have to play the victim card every time somebody disagrees with us, insults us, or ridicules our beliefs?  I don’t like it any more than anybody else does; but Jesus said that this would happen, and he didn’t give a special exception for Americans.  No, I am not trivializing the shootings in Colorado, but I believe that the CADC is trivializing those tragic events when they compare the loss of human life to the making of a movie, a blog post by a couple of ignoramuses, or a gay parody of a painting.

Believers, we need to pick our fights. And I submit to you that some of the things that we should be fighting against are the authentic persecutions being carried out against our brothers and sisters around the world, the fact that millions die every day without hearing the gospel, false teachers (read: televangelists and anyone else who exploits the faith for personal gain), and the rampant poverty and preventable suffering abroad in and in our own backyards.  Let those who oppose the faith have their little books, movies, and blogs. The gospel will outlast us all.

Jesus said it best:

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates me hates my Father as well. If I had not done among them what no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen these miracles, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.'”

– John 15:18-25 (NIV)

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10 Responses

  1. johndobbs says:

    Interesting post, Mike. While I have run into some people who are kinda like those mentioned above, most of the ‘man on the street’ people I’ve met do not share those views. So far.

  2. dangoldfinch says:

    odgie,

    Thanks for the post. I couldn’t agree more that we Christians seem to terribly confuse persecution and ignorance. I don’t think Christians are terribly persecuted in America. We are the subjects and objects of much ridicule, but persecution? I had a few thoughts about this in a recent post. I took a slightly different angle at the end, but here’s the gist:

    “The point of this part of John’s Gospel is, I think, just that point: We need to pick the right battle to fight, and die on top of the right mountain. Peter had it all wrong; again. That is why he pulled his sword out that night and cut off Malchus’ ear. Peter was trying to protect Jesus so Jesus could stay alive and pray. Jesus somewhat harshly informed Peter that this was not the right battle to fight and in so doing informed Peter that there was a better mountaintop upon which to die: “Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” he said. Ah, yes. A better mountaintop indeed.”

    Thanks for the timely thoughts. They are appreciated. Christians really need to figure this out…and soon.

    jerry

    PS–The post was in my 90 Days with Jesus posts from John’s Gospel, Day 80.

  3. odgie says:

    John – I think that you are right for the most part. I also think that you are right to include the “So far” at the end. Thanks for stopping by; your comments are always appreciated.

    jerry – I like your imagery; choosing “a mountain to die on” is a powerful metaphor of the point I am trying to make. Thanks for stopping by.

  4. David B says:

    Part of the problem comes because too many Christians still have a Constantinian attitude about their faith…’Don’t criticize the established church’. Christians are not alone in this…everybody wants to play the victim whether or not it really is so.

    I also believe that such ‘attacks’ on the church have come because Christians have not picked battles well. as has been mentioned. Instead of truly being evangelistic for Christ and him crucified, for example, we have made issues such as abortion and its legislative and judicial politics the point of our evangelistic fervor.

  5. scandal17 says:

    Hitchens is a greasy, alcoholic Brit (and self-hating Jew) who’s somehow imagines that he’s an opinion-maker on this side of the Atlantic. Falwell should be honored by Hintchens’s slight contempt except Hitchens is so ludicrously inconsequential even in his own benighted country.

  6. I agree with the thougts expressed here! The world is clamoring for the attention of Christians as it attempts to discredit and massacre the name of Christ by attacking Christians with all of our imperfections. We need to raise our sights above the clamoring crowd and stare into the face of our Savior for our redemption. Anything that man may say about us may or may not be true. Anything evil that is spoken about God and our Savior are lies, but if the crowd spoke evil about Jesus, God’s sinless Son, woe to us if someone doesn’t speak evil of us! The words of men do not impress me, whether they are praise or slander, but the Word of God will endure forever!

  7. Erin L. says:

    VERY thought provoking post, Odgie. I, too often in my life, have felt I was one of the “victims.” Geez- there’s WAY more important things in life than worrying about how I think I’m being persecuted because I’m a Christian. As my good friend Sarah Bergquist so eloquently stated in her own eulogy “There is so much more that this…..so much more.”

  8. odgie says:

    Dave – It’s true that we have focused more on peripheral issues rather than the Issue: Christ and him crucified.

    Scandal17 – Don’t hold back, tell us what you really think. 🙂

    Jerri – “…if the crowd spoke evil about Jesus, God’s sinless Son, woe to us if someone doesn’t speak evil of us!” I never thought of it like that, but you are right on.

    Erin – Thanks for coming by. Don’t be too hard on yourself. We Christians who enjoy the freedom of living in the western world have to struggle to keep our perspective. I know that I am certainly guilty of this.

  9. scandal17 says:

    OK, then!

    Hitchens is a greasy Brit and self-hating Jew. He imagines himself England’s great gift to North American intellectual life, but that’s because his chronic alcoholism is exceptionally chronic. One suspects his professed atheism is mere jealousy of the one God.

  10. Trey says:

    I find it interesting that when the church was attacked in Acts it grew stronger and more unified. They prayed for boldness when persecuted, they didn’t pray for protection. We do need to pick our battles carefully. Too many times we make issues out of things that we don’t need too. Love the verse at the end. It reminds me that it’s okay to be persecuted.

    I took some heat a few months ago for taking a stand against the right to sell alcohol in our community. It really bothered me at first, but the more I thought about it the more I decided it was something I could rejoice in as your verse stated.

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