If They Persecuted Me….
By Jack Kinsella
There was a time, not too long ago, when the idea of Christians suffering persecution seemed anachronistic to most Westerners. Christianity has nurtured, instructed and inspired Western culture since the days of the Roman Empire.
Fifty years ago, growing up anywhere in the Christian West, from West Berlin to London to Toronto to Los Angeles to Sydney, one grew up under the welcome shadow of the cross.
Fifty years ago, a baptismal certificate was as good as a birth certificate. Being a good Christian was synonymous with being of good character. Being of good Christian character was as valuable an asset fifty years ago as having a good credit report is today.
How often one attended church and one’s reputation within the Christian community often played a role in renting a home, getting a bank loan, or getting a secular job, a promotion or a position of trust.
All other considerations aside for a moment, fifty years ago Western society was at its peak; it is nicknamed “The Golden Age” for a reason. Government was smaller and less intrusive, taxes were lower, standards of living were higher, families were closer and as I recall, people were generally a lot better-humored.
If somebody got offended, he could either get over it or go somewhere where less offensive. Free speech used to include the right to be offensive. It just wasn’t considered particularly polite.
That isn’t some old fogey reminiscing about his own childhood in some especially blessed place – a person who grew up in downtown Los Angeles fifty years ago wouldn’t recall things much differently.
If you aren’t old enough to remember, try watching some of the original 1950’s “Dragnet” series with Jack Webb and Harry Morgan. “Dragnet” would devote entire programs to crimes like check kiting and shoplifting – in Los Angeles.
Sgt. Friday would rotate through various divisions; the bunko squad, vice squad, major crimes squad, occasionally homicide; but a police show devoted exclusively to investigating murders would be too far outside the general public’s experience to be believable.
Another prime-time program was “Highway Patrol” with Broderick Crawford. Like Dragnet, it was dry as dust by today’s entertainment standards. But in the 1950’s it was high drama. Few ordinary people had much connection with murders or violence or drugs but everybody had potential contact with the Highway Patrol.
What entertained people fifty years ago was what was familiar. That’s why Andy Griffith’s “Mayberry” was so popular – a town populated by church-going Christians whose sheriff didn’t have a gun and whose deputy only needed one bullet wasn’t that far-fetched.
It is said that life imitates art, but for art to have any meaning, it must also reflect life from the perspective of the artist. What was entertainment fifty years ago reflected the culture of fifty years ago.
“And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind…” Paul writes in Romans 1:28.
The dictionary defines “reprobate” as “immoral”. It further defines “immoral” as “contrary to accepted moral principles”.
Any similarity between the accepted moral principles of the society reflected by “Leave It To Beaver” and the one reflected by “The Family Guy” is purely coincidental.
Over the past five decades, the Christian institutions of Western civilization have systematically toppled as God was deemed increasingly irrelevant and faith in God denigrated to that of simple-minded superstition.
Even thirty years ago, the Biblical scenario in which Western society would countenance the persecution of Christians in the last days, simply because of their faith seemed too far-fetched to be literal.
Today, Christian persecution is so commonplace that it barely rates a headline. Compass Direct News reported the execution of a Christian woman in Somalia — for possessing six Bibles.
An influential leader of the Islamic Al-Shabab group, a warlord identified only as Sheikh Arbow from Middle Juba region of Somalia, shot a Christian lady, one Mariam Muhina Hussein on September 28, 2009.
Compass Direct, quoting local sources, reported that the warlord sent his wife to pretend to be interested in Christianity. The Christian lady gave one of her Bibles to the warlord’s wife, who took it back to her husband.
Sheikh Arbow went back the next day saying he was “looking for Christians who defiled the Islamic religion” (quoting Compass Direct) and ordered Mariam Hussein to surrender her Bibles. She retrieved them from hiding, whereupon Arbow fired three bullets into her, killing her instantly.
It didn’t make the newspapers because if the papers reported every case in which a Christian is murdered for his faith, there would be no room to print anything else.
In the Sudan, the entire Christian population of the country is being systematically exterminated by the Islamic janjaweed under orders from Khartoum. The genocide has been going on as long as Hitler’s genocide against the Jews, and is almost as brutal, if not nearly so efficient.
The UN estimates that the Sudanese Islamic Republic has so far only managed to exterminate a half-million or so Christians and other non-Muslims. But since the targets are primarily non-white and Christian, nobody seems particularly concerned.
Christians are routinely murdered for their faith in almost every country on earth. In the West, persecution is so far confined to harassing Christian teachers and schoolchildren, churches, veterans’ groups and so forth.
There is a cross that was erected on an outcropping of rock in the middle of the Mohave Desert on the Mojave National Preserve. It stands as a memorial to the veterans who gave their lives in the First World War.
The cross stands in the middle of the desert in a place so remote that two cars passing by within an hour would constitute a traffic jam. Unfortunately, somebody in one of those two cars drove by the cross and got offended by it.
Honest. They got offended by it!
It looks like the kind of cross you’d see in a veteran’s memorial cemetery, not a crucifix or even a Christian symbol. How in the world can a a plain old, unadorned cross, two beams that form a “t” standing on a rock in the middle of the desert can be offensive escapes me.
But it didn’t escape the federal judge that ordered the cross encased inside a plywood box so that nobody else could see it and be offended! So now, it looks like a billboard with nothing on it.
If it WAS a billboard, you could put up an ad for a roadside adult bookstore, or a strip joint, or maybe one of Ashley Madison’s “Get a Divorce!” billboards. Or a billboard making fun of Jesus or God or religion.
But it’s not a billboard. It is a mask to hide something TRULY offensive – something so much more offensive than a billboard announcing “NAKED GIRLS! 10 Miles at Exit 27”.
“Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his Lord. If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept My saying, they will keep yours also.” (John 15:20)
Jesus said it begins with persecuting Him – then persecuting His followers naturally follows. Persecution starts small, taking tentative steps, but once the camel’s nose is in the tent, so to speak, the rest of the camel will eventually follow.
Granted, hiding a cross inside a billboard to protect people from being offended by it isn’t equal to the kind of persecution where you can be shot for harboring Bibles.
But the possibility it could come to that doesn’t sound nearly as ludicrous as it did back when Barney Fife was patrolling Mayberry.
This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on October 2, 2009.