The trend has been noticeable over the past few years, particularly in popular books, television shows, and movies, but also in the culture at large. It runs something like this: The story contains a character or a group who are on the cutting edge of some scientific or social breakthrough, and the new idea or discovery is so revolutionary that news of it is generating controversy. The hullabaloo usually centers on the fact that the "amazing" innovation challenges traditional or religious beliefs. At some point, the genius inventor/discoverer/creator usually makes a snide comment to the effect that only the howling fundamentalist Christians cannot see how wonderful his breakthrough really is, as if Bible-believing Christians are the last of the Luddites.
It may be a gratuitous laugh-line—or it may be a well-aimed blow designed to undermine Christian confidence in the rationality of their beliefs. Whatever the motives, ridicule of Christians and the biblical teachings they believe is on the rise, and of late, it seems to have sharpened its edge. Christianity is under attack, putting those who adhere to the Bible in the crosshairs for simply holding fast to the words of Scripture.
This is nothing new. Christians have been persecuted for their beliefs since Jesus Christ Himself suffered a martyr's death in Jerusalem. In fact, we could take it further back, as the prophets who were killed for speaking the truth that God revealed to them died for the same beliefs—even all the way back to Abel, who was murdered because he pleased God by following His instructions regarding sacrifice (Genesis 4:4). "Because the carnal mind is enmity against God" (Romans 8:7), carnal people lash out at those who are trying to transform their lives to please Him. The apostle Peter tells us that we should not think it unusual to be "reproached for the name of Christ" (I Peter 4:12-14).
When we think of persecution, we often reflect on the types of persecution that are mentioned in the Bible or that have been recorded by historians. The persecutions of Nero and some of the other Roman emperors are legendary, particularly some of the more gruesome ones like crucifying churchmen in mockery of Christ, covering Christians in pitch and burning them to light the emperor's garden parties, and pitting hymn-singing believers against ravenous beasts before large crowds at the Coliseum. These are the kinds of persecution that "get the headlines," as it were, but conditions do not need to mount to this point to be considered persecution. Historically, a great deal of Christian persecution has been "mere" mockery of belief that ratchets up to far more serious physical oppression over time.
Just a few weeks ago, Christianity was in the media spotlight because of the controversial contraception mandate attached to Obamacare. The Catholic Church in particular was held up to ridicule because of its rigid stance against all forms of contraception. The typical secular view—which is the direction most persecution comes from these days—is mocking disbelief that a modern institution could advocate such Dark-Age notions. Society, they argue, has moved far beyond the confining sexual strictures of traditional morality, and Catholics should get with the program. Mostly, they blame the Church's narrow-minded "conservative hierarchy" for maintaining a doctrine that most parishioners ignore and/or would like the Church to change.
Yet, it is not just Catholics who are swept up in the ridicule because the Obamacare mandates in this vein also include coverage of abortions and the use of abortifacient contraceptives (contraceptives that essentially abort an embryo soon after conception), which the majority of Bible-believing Christians oppose. Since sexual freedom and abortion rights and methods are the spear point of the progressive assault on traditional values, any opposition to them by Christians makes them fair game for put-downs, derision, and low-blows (the lower the better, to their way of thinking).
One of the newest television shows on ABC targets "Good Christian" women. It is titled "GCB," an acronym that uses a slur to demean more than half of this country's professing Christians. The entire show is based on the assumption that all Christians—but especially Christian women—are hypocrites who use their faith as a screen to conceal their underhanded deeds and sexual profligacy and to maintain their reputations among their just-as-phony peers. As Media Research Center president, Brent Bozell, writes in a March 9, 2012, column:
As anyone could have predicted, ABC is clearly pitching "GCB" as a replacement for the dying soap, "Desperate Housewives," merely adding the Texas-Christian angle to make the plots extra-scandalous. Hollywood seems to think everyone is a selfish and cynical hypocrite. But not everyone lives in a gaudy piranha bowl like they do in Tinseltown.
Undoubtedly, a great many Christians are hypocrites, but the show gives the impression that all Christians behave just as badly as everyone else. Thus, the producers want viewers to think that, as a belief system, Christianity is as corrupt as any other.
In this nation, Christians are still protected to a certain extent by the Bill of Rights; we still have the freedom to worship as we choose. On the other hand, secularists have the freedom of speech, and they have made sure that they control most of the outlets for getting their views into the mainstream of thought. As the years unfold, they will continue to do whatever they can to undermine Christianity because its teachings hold up a standard that they cannot abide and to which they will not submit.
But take heart! Just last Saturday, atheists held a rally in Washington, DC, which they had advertised would be "the largest atheist event in world history." Renowned atheist and biologist Richard Dawkins was headlined to speak before the vast throng, and sometime before the event, he had advised in The Washington Post that people should stay away if they lacked the wisdom to crawl "from the swamp of primitive superstition and supernatural gullibility." Yet, when noses were counted on the day of the rally, only "several thousand" had bothered to attend. Not even the major networks showed up—nor the Associated Press or The New York Times!
While we can grumble about the way Christians are portrayed in the media, we must realize that our persecution is, for the time being, quite light (see II Corinthians 4:17; Hebrews 12:3-11). Over the next years, it will probably worsen, perhaps imperceptibly at first, but we will know we have reached the tipping point when government begins to persecute believers. Realistically, we have a way to go to equal the terrible persecutions that our forefathers in the faith endured, so we can thank God for His abundant mercy toward us.
- Richard T. Ritenbaugh
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