Engaging Culture

What If Christianity’s Critics Got Serious?

I’m not one to jump on the “Christianity is under attack” bandwagon. However, there’s no question that Christianity is the target of far more legal action in this country that any other religion and people are far more sensitive to mentioning “Jesus” than Buddha, Mohammed, or other religious figures. (Which is a significant reason in my thinking that there’s actually something to this Christianity business). But in looking through the media recently and noticing that the voices against Christianity seem to be growing – and getting more hostile – I spent part of the holidays wondering what would happen if the pendulum swung just enough to shift the majority’s thinking? What if the majority decided that Christians are the problem in this country and we need to do something about it?

And it’s not just my wild imagination. A poll by the Anti-Defamation League at the end of last year indicates 64 percent of Americans say religion in America is under attack.

“This has become more than a seasonal witch hunt by the ACLU,” said World Net Daily Editor and founder Joseph Farah. “The attacks on Christianity in America are alarming. We are witnessing more than religious bigotry now. We are entering the early stages of what could become persecution and outright criminalization of Christianity if it is not exposed and fought vigorously by all freedom-loving people.”

Farah’s word “criminalization” is interesting. I spoke at a conference a few years back and met the leader of one of the country’s largest Christian ministries to the gay community. He mentioned even then his organization was already preparing for a time in the near future when offering a gay or transgender person an alternative to that lifestyle will actually be illegal. Just offering it – will be illegal. Far fetched? In Madison, Wisconsin, David Ott, a former homosexual, was arrested for a “hate crime” for sharing his testimony with a gay man at a gas station. He faced a $10,000 fine and one year behind bars. Seven thousand dollars in legal fees later, [he] was ordered to attend re-education classes at the University of Wisconsin. Regardless of what you believe about homosexuality, it appears that even discussion about it may be illegal soon.

The thought police are indeed out there.

While to a person of faith, many of the critics seem – well, insane – I have to admit, their rants do get picked up by the mainstream media. And to the uneducated, or those with no religious experience or knowledge of religion in America, the comments seem to make sense. Here’ a few choice quotes.

From blowhard scientist Richard Dawkins: “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all of fiction. Jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic-cleanser; a misogynistic homophobic racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal….

Columnist Maureen Dowd: “Oh my God, we really are in a theocracy.”

Philip Pullman (His Dark Materials): “The Christian religion is a very powerful and convincing mistake.”

Comedian Bill Maher: ”Christians and others who are religious suffer from a neurological disorder that “stops people from thinking.”

Bestselling author Sam Harris: “A person who believes that Elvis is still alive is very unlikely to get promoted to a position of great power and responsibility in our society. Neither will a person who believes that the holocaust was a hoax. But people who believe equally irrational things about God and the bible are now running our country. This is genuinely terrifying.”

It’s not just the criticism, but the attitude that it’s becoming more and more “OK” to trash Christians, and to offer more offensive and sometimes violent options for dealing with these perceived “Christian extremists.”

From a more direct perspective, Tom DeLay had this to say: “We are, after all, a society that abides abortion on demand, has killed millions of innocent children, degrades the institution of marriage and often treats Christianity like some second-rate superstition. Seen from this perspective of course there is a war on Christianity.”

By the way – I particularly love those who are terrified by the vague but impending “theocracy” that seems to be taking over the country. But the truth is, if you’ve ever tried to organize anyone at church you know just how nuts the idea is that Christians are taking over America. Couple that with the incredible erosion of religious morals and values in this country and it does seem far-fetched. And yet bookstores are filled with recent books on the terrifying future of the theocracy that’s somehow taking over America.

The bottom line is that hostile statements are becoming far more regular and they’re coming from the mouths of people who are respected. Worse, because of the typical journalist’s ignorance of Christianity, these fringe and extreme statements are not being challenged by the press. When a popular writer like Sam Harris calls atheism “a moral and intellectual necessity,” someone needs to challenge that incredibly shallow idea.

So what do you think? Is this a time for serious reflection regarding the perception of Christianity in America? When I was young, those indifferent to Christianity pretty much left us alone. But now, not only do they speak out, but feel they can level volleys at us that they would never do against other religions. Christians are the last group that those in the mainstream media can criticize without fear of retaliation or retribution.

Is it too great a stretch to wonder if there will come a time in our country similar to pre-war Germany? After years of refusing to speak up to defend the Jews, it was a simple thing for the Nazis to take the next step toward extermination.

Could it happen here?

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  1. I agree with your article, but the David Ott reference seems to be a little far fetched.  I can't find any case within the last 10 years that fits your description.  There is one that happened in 1996.  It was dismissed.  Also, it wasn't a hate crime…heck, I don't even think those existed back then…it was a charge of disorderly conduct with a hate crime modifier.  Not the same thing.

    Again…I agree with what you are saying, but you and others don't help our cause by failing to properly vet the sources of your information.

  2. instead of worrying about thought police, we might be better off as Christians if there were more persecution….we take our faith too lightly. we should engage in assisting the poor and disenfranchised…not sure Jesus would always engage with critics….let them rant.

  3. Perhaps we, as American Christians, have simply become too accustomed to our own bubble. The stories I hear from believers who return from China remind me that Christ never promised an easy life for those who follow Him–in fact, He often told His disciples the opposite (He brought the sword, He said).

    I stand in awe of those in other countries who have to memorize Scripture because owning a Bible is forbidden, face arrest, and still have such joy and hunger. Me? I sometimes forget to do my daily devotional. I even wonder how I would stand up under such threat. I can hope I would do well, but I've been quite sheltered in comparison.

    I certainly pray that such things never happen here, but perhaps the prospect will be enough to wake us up somewhat–get us focusing on God more. And, really, the other benefit is the Sermon-on-the-Mount effect: praying for and loving those who attack us.

    I know that I have been somewhat more asleep at the wheel than I should have been. And the more I hear about such things, the more I search God's Word for parallels and pray for peace and guidance. But, really, it's better not to need a wakeup call.

  4. I heard this week from a man who lives in a country where carrying two Bibles in your car places you at risk of arrest for an intent to evangelize. It always seems so far off, but the current shift in our culture is pretty radical. 

  5. I think it can and it will. God's going to purify His church before He returns – even the Church in America. It's looking like He may use atheists and fundamentalist Muslims to do it.

  6. I'd say Christianity's critics already are pretty serious in…China, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, North Korea, Myanmar, former Soviet bloc and pretty much the entire Arabic world. How serious do we need it to become before we take to heart even Bob Dylan's words of some twenty years ago. "WHEN YA GONNA WAKE UP!". It is only in the overly affluent western world that the Christian witness often sleeps.

  7. I can hardly blame Richard Dawkins for his comments re the God of the Old Testament. Our theologians and preachers have dropped the ball in adequately reconciling this paradox. The truth is far more beautiful than it appears on the surface.

    To be fair, the Jews have had trouble reconciling this as well. There's a reason why the film "The Ten Commandments" stopped at Mt Nebo, because to tell the rest of the story would have made Tarantino look mild. 

    God is good, but he is also very theatrical when he chooses to be.

  8. Check out Dinesh D'Souza's book "What's so Great About Christianity". He's an apologist that takes on the athiestic critics head on. I heard him speak lat year. maybe the smartest guy I've ever heard.

  9. That isn't a source.  It just links to someone saying the same thing.  There is reference to him telling his story on a video but nobody I can find links to anything like a news story or court records or any such thing, and that includes pro-gay sites that say Ott was charged with harrassment for refusing to leave the other person alone when requested.  I would have to call this story unfounded so far.

  10. While I'm not vouching either way, I have David's name and address.  It was given to me by the producer who actually did the story for Coral Ridge Ministries television program.  They did a feature on David and his experience on their television story.   His being charged with "harassment" was the core of the charge that this story is about.  Apparently, their definition of "harassment" is what others would call sharing their faith.  He was charged, and apparently settled at significant expense, which may explain the lack of court records.

  11. Well written article. America does need a wake up call, but sometimes I fear it will never happen. I think there’s a reason we’re not mentioned in Revelation.

  12. Ash found the case just by looking for it and admits that there was a hate crime modifier attached to it.  The case was not dismissed until Ott went through re-education or sensitivity training and was already on the hook for thousands of dollars in legal fees.       

    If you'd like to research it for yourself the Dane County Case number was:  97CM000726   

    The bottom line is that Ott was prosecuted because the discussion was about homosexuality.  Keep in mind that the police came knocking weeks later.  They don't do that for a disorderly conduct case.  Share a case where you've seen police, based on only one eye witness report, go and arrest somebody weeks later for disorderly conduct. 

  13. I would have to say that this is just more overblown worrying. People watch too much TV. All we see is the crazies. The most annoying get the most attention. For a long time when i grew up i have always heard these stories. Looking back its really silly how emotional people get. Man especially during the Clinton years. and its not surprising that they are getting all bent outta shape now that another Dem is in the office. Christians have many many sources of their own propaganda. To honestly say that Christians might end up like the jews in germany is probably the lamest thing i hear. In case you havent noticed that some 90 percent of people believe in god or some diety. So i would say thats a pretty solid majority. And it would be something for a majority to get snuffed out by 10 percent of people who probably just dont care and arent interested in religion and maybe 4 percent of those who would call themselves atheists. From what i understand about WW2 is that Hitler stirred people up by getting the majority to think they are a persecuted minority. So that is what i see. A powerful majority thinks they are a persecuted minority because they see some ads on busses now. Just think about it. Look at home much god talk was goin on during the election stuff. Everyone had to bend over backwards to out 'i love jesus more' themselves. Look at Mitt Romney and his speech. That was to basically say.. seriously im one of you guys (which in the south ,where i am,.. he isnt). 

       I agree with Ralph but i would go a step further. STOP BEING SCARED!! i have never heard so much fear from such a group of people. so much for having faith. Christians need to remake the faith to get away from fear, politics, and homo bashing. Get back to helping the poor and sick and needy. stop reading prophesy and starting reading more about love and compassion. prophesy has become the golden idol of christians. trying to read the tea leafs and looking for codes that arent there.

       cheer up and go plant a tree or something too.

  14. The danger is living ignorantly in the American (western) bubble! The present worldwide economic problems are in large part the result of American consumer/banker greed which has had detrimental repercussions most everywhere. Which points out that what happens here makes a difference. If the United States purports to be a world leader it should take it's responsibilities seriously, and that includes the Christian church in the country being watchful in it's freedom and standing up for worship freedom elsewhere. Otherwise, atheists for example, will think that all agree with the recent bus adverts in London and that are now spreading to other large cities.

  15. Some time ago, I editorialized about what I called 'sentinels.'  They are unbelievers at the edge of a faith who believe that holding their faith is essential for the good of the world even though it is wrong.  Since they are unbelievers, they try to defend their faith from being challenged the way that priests like Sam Harris does.  There is no such thing as a non religious person.  Faith is the foundation of intellect and there cxan be no intellect in its absence.

    Sentinels do not believe that their religion can actually be defended.  They believe that allowing their converts to be exposed to an honest opinion in contrast to their faith would mean losing their flock to a more intelligent standpoint.  Their primary defense is a derivative of 'poisoning the well.'  This is what I see around me.  We are too busy trying to prove that we are better than the unbelievers whose actions we take the blame for that we put up a pathetic intellectual defense.

    There is one other thing that I notice.  When did the term theocracy come to mean 'a secular nation of secular laws ruled by a free thinker who dresses up as a priest while practicing his atheism?'  We had a word for rule by priests and it was not theocracy.  If you believe in God and that you are not God, then you know that a nation ruled by a priest is not ruled by God and is thereby not a theocracy.  Theocracy is imminent and none of us has a say in it.

  16. Christian is definitely under attack here is a link from http://www.trivester.com

    The Christian attack has been propagated by the media, which has been showing us images which are contrary to what God intends for us. The Christian attack has also been coming from the schools where anything related to the bible is being banned and students instead of being thought about God are being thought the theory of evolution, which does not include God as being responsible for the formation the earth.

    Christendom has suffered attacks from recent law court judgments which allow men to marry men, and Christian priest can be brought before these courts if they refuse to officiate over these ceremonies on a count of discrimination. The church itself has been infiltrated by the powers that be, which allows openly gay bishops to continue to practice as such.

    Further reading:- http://www.trivester.com/comments/attack.html


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