Christians’ Persecution Perplex

So there was some kind of big evangelical Xian pep rally in Houston, headlined by Gov., Perry of Texas, a possible presidential candidate, which is why that it is getting media attention.

Jason Pitzl-Waters watches it nervously from the minority-religious-rights perspective. Kallisti works it into a post on polytheism: “Powerful images and vengeful gods.”

The thundering irony is that the evangelicals see themselves as a persecuted minority in America, although they are willing to admit that Muslims are even more disliked.

The blogger linked, Bradley R.E. Wright, notes,

Similarly, somewhere along the line we evangelical Christians have gotten it into our heads that our neighbors, peers, and most Americans don’t like us, and that they like us less every year. I’ve heard this idea stated in sermons and everyday conversation; I’ve read it in books and articles.

There’s a problem, though. It doesn’t appear to be true. Social scientists have repeatedly surveyed views of various religions and movements, and Americans consistently hold evangelical Christians in reasonably high regard. Furthermore, social science research indicates that it’s almost certain that our erroneous belief that others dislike us is actually harming our faith. (emphasis added)

Why this need to feel like victims? Is it a hankering for the good old days of the 2nd century C.E. when they were persecuted (although not as much as they think)?

The Christians’ big mistake was when they stopped being at all “countercultural” and snuggled up to the emperor Constantine, who then used his power to intervene in their squabbles (see Council of Arles, Council of Nicaea.)

Jesus had little to do with kings, but things sure did change after that.

Soon there was no turning back. The Catholics adopted the imperial table of organization: Pope = emperor. College of Cardinals = Senate. Big church = city hall (basilica, lit. “royal tribunal chamber.”) In the Eastern Roman Empire, the Orthodox prelates generally were equally cozy with kings, right up through the  end of Czarist Russia in 1917.

(Muslims, of course, did not even go through much of a countercultural period, since Mohammed led armies, negotiated treaties, etc. Yet they have a martyr complex too.)

On the principle that cornered animals are dangerous, this self-image of being a persecuted minority not only “harms their faith” but is indeed a potential seedbed of trouble for non-Christians.

3 thoughts on “Christians’ Persecution Perplex

  1. Cosette

    I think persecution and suffering are built into Christian theology in the figure of Jesus Christ, who was persecuted, suffered greatly, and serves as a model for Christian living. Whether it’s real persecution, mortification of the flesh, or even just illness and poverty, spiritual reward is wrapped up in not just corporal suffering, but welcoming and enduring it.

  2. To detract from their message of exclusivity and a desecrated Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, I’d like to say that there was a very nice showing to the Unitarian Universalist Interfaith prayer service, followed immediately by a small Pagan conference with a rain and healing ritual led by Phaedra Bonewits. It was a beautiful experience, with an overtone of inclusiveness and peace.

  3. Some blame it on interpretations of the book of revelations. Apparently, the bit about how the last “true” Christians will be persecuted in the final days leading up to the fictional “rapture” and second coming.

    So, of course, their egos won’t let them see themselves as anything but gaggles of “persecuted last true Christians off the world.”

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