With the Supreme Court making same sex marriage a civil right, Catholic bishops issuing statements for Catholics to stand firm for true marriage it’s understandable if you’re feeling nervous about possible persecution.
Then when you read about two lesbians who took a Christian baker to court in Oregon and hear that the baker and his family are fined nearly $150,000, they lose their business, have their home threatened, GoFundMe bans them AND the government tells them to shut up and not talk about it, you get concerned.
Or maybe you’ve heard about the judges and county clerks who have been forced to issue same sex marriage licenses or lose their job.
Then when you read that the New York Times writers and other journalists are calling for religions to lose their tax exempt status you are right to feel worried.
Here are ten things to remember if you’re feeling worried about possible persecution:
1. Scary Headlines Draw Readers – Do you get all your news from the web or conservative TV? All journalists are looking for headlines that grab readers and fear is a big draw. The news might be real or it might not be or (most likely) it’s been exaggerated. Remember that the news stories rarely tell the whole story. Be concerned, but be aware that particular stories are not the whole story. Remember the big picture. So far these are concerning, but isolated incidents.
2. We’re in new territory – We haven’t been here before in America and what is unknown is always frightening. Take a deep breath and move forward into the adventure of faith. God is with you and God is with his church. New challenges produce new heroes. New challenges produce new ways forward. There are a lot of smart, faithful people in positions of power who will fight to protect the religious freedoms. Have faith and have courage.
3. Not all gay people are rampaging extremists – Try to avoid the fear mongering and avoid the idea that all gay people are radical gay activists parading naked in the streets and eyeing up your little boys and girls. You may disagree with their life choices profoundly. You may disagree strongly with the same sex marriage decision. Lots of gay people support your right to disagree and would defend religious freedom. Remember the church calls on us to treat all people with respect and dignity.
4. There are positive ways forward – Same sex marriage might be a new civil right, but state legislators may come up with creative ways to protect consciences while also working within the law. Others may work to overturn the decision and set up a permanent protest movement. It’s not a bad thing for the church to be counter cultural. It’s part of our calling, and there are positive ways to do this.
5. Why should we be exempt from persecution? – American Christians have had a pretty good run in the United States. For over 200 years this has been, for the most part, a country founded on Christian faith, Christian values and Christian principles. We should remember that in many parts of the world down through history this has not been the case. Persecution, not acceptance has been the default setting. Do we suppose that we should be exempt from persecution? Why would that be? Are we more righteous in our faith than Christians in other lands at other times? I doubt it. Continue Reading