Oh, The Persecution Of The American Church …

I don’t often check in with the Huffington Post — not for political or cultural analysis, and it never would occur to me to see what HuffPost has to say about matters of faith.  But this article, about the double-standard hypocrisy of those who cry “persecution” every time a door is closed to them in the civic arena, is worth a look:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/24/religious-liberty-double-standards

It’s interesting to me that as we celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., last week — and by “we” I meant clear-thinking, progressive, neighbor-loving people and, sadly, not very many evangelicals — we’ve developed, as a society, a strange-but-convenient understanding of Dr. King’s work and mission.  Secularists rightly hail him as a civil rights hero without grasping the Biblical Christianity that undergirded and enlivened his message, while conservative Christians have been wary to embrace him and the legacy he left because it was informed by the same Biblical foundation.  Dr. King was not this nation’s “best-ever liberal,” as many non-religious people might prefer, and he WAS one of this nation’s “best-ever” examples of a Biblically prophetic disciple of Jesus Christ.

And while this causes little to no real discomfort among the secularists, it’s been a tough pill over the decades for the conservative, evangelical Church to swallow.  After all, the Biblical foundation of Dr. King’s message convicts not only the segregationists and bigots in the American Church during the civil rights era, but those who even today accommodate and defend societal inequality and injustice.  White Americans have always benefited from racism, and few are those in the Church who seek to humble themselves by first acknowledging their privilege and then using it to empower and advocate for those left behind because of it.  Worse yet are those who, after ignoring the racial and class-based oppression around them for all of their lives, have suddenly co-opted Dr. King in their fight to keep gays and lesbians from enjoying Constitutionally-protected rights and, sickeningly, use his name and covet his legacy in their obscene fight to keep America armed and violent. 

Dr. King was murdered for his faith.  That’s persecution. 

Your kid’s Bible Study Club having to meet off-campus, or your legislature’s refusal to allow teachers to teach the Bible in their charter school, or your being yelled at and insulted when you wave banners with dismembered fetuses or anti-gay slogans are not. 

The Christian Church in the United States has done precious little prophetic, Biblical, loving good to merit persecution for the sake of righteousness.  Frankly, I long for the day when the Body of Christ in this country lives out the Gospel in such a way as to make persecution inevitable.  Until then, let’s stop whining when we’re inconvenienced, and let’s stop behaving in such a way that within the marketplace of ideas, ours are rejected because of the buffoonery and arrogance that accompany even the occasional good one.

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