Thursday, 9 December 2010

Is Persecution a necessary part of Christian Mythology?

Is it just me or are there increasing numbers of stories about persecution of Christians in countries not known for this activity, such as the UK?  Most of the cases I've read do not appear to me to be anything like persecution.  The most that could be said about them was that there was unfair discrimination.  But is this narrative necessary to vindicate Christian perspectives in a secular environment?  Is having an imagined enemy being used to strengthen internal cohesion within Christian circles?  Often I've read Christian bloggers express the idea that opposition to their unusual views has provoked an adverse reaction and that therefore they must be doing something right.  It's a weird logic, but seems to crop up rather frequently.
When one tries to reason with these people, and show them what real full blown persecution looks like, one stock response is something like "Well if we don't do something to stop what is currently going on here then that is how we will end up too."  The thin end of the wedge argument.  But it makes no sense.  The environment and the circumstances are not related.  There is no proof that low level discrimination inexorably leads to religious persecution.
I remain puzzled.


  1. The cases we've seen recently, all taken up by the Christian Legal Centre, seem mainly to be manifestations of sheer outrage that discrimination against gay people at work is illegal. Never mind that they don't think the Bible entitles them to stone adulterers. Homosexuality is different. They feel it's worth bringing a case because they can't really believe that they aren't allowed to discriminate against homosexuals any more. To them it seems so obvious that homosexuality is wrong that the law must be pure nonsense.

    You see this on discussion boards: people who feel their moral views "stand to reason" and cannot see that there could be any rational dispute of what seems self-evident to them. This is very much how hardline whites in the American South reacted to civil rights legislation. These were educated, otherwise law-abiding, privileged people who just couldn't - and wouldn't - accept that the racism that underpinned all their assumptions had actually become illegal. Southern racists saw their views as being "natural" and "God-given" - and Christian homophobes are just the same.

    I'm sure lots of Christians feel privately that homosexuality is a sin, but only one among many, and who recognise the difference between their religious views and the law of the land. Many Catholics disapprove of abortion but only a very few of them picket abortion clinics. My mother, to provide another example, strongly disapproves of unmarried people having children but she keeps her opinion to herself. She feels its not her place - and she's right. You can think something's a sin without inflicting your belief on others.

    But there's a particular type of person who sees the world entirely from their own perspective. Solipsism is the word I'm looking for. Do you recall the case of the Christian supply teacher? She insisted on praying and talking about heaven to a teenage girl with cancer. The family, who are atheists and had their own way of dealing with the issues, felt this was an unacceptable use of her access to their home. But this stupid woman really couldn't see that she had trespassed beyond her remit as a teacher. She felt she had a God-given right to ignore normal courtesies. She ignored boundaries, saw herself as a special case. Ditto the woman who worked for British Airways and went to court over her right to wear a crucifix. She was clearly a nightmare to work with: always demanding preferential treatment, forcing religious debates on unwilling staff members. Her total lack of consideration for colleagues was one of the reasons the tribunal decided BA was justified. But it's a rare Christian who's prepared to see this as religious persecution.

  2. Thnanks for that Sophie. Yes, I entirely agree.