I still fear the tirades of the Pastor Artie Buccos, and the tribe of Rev. Fred Phelps of our nation, far more than I fear any “secular humanists” or edicts of the ACLU.
I still believe, in the words of a heroic Christianity Today editorial:
“Persecution is a Holy Word.”
Too holy to apply it to the Ten Commandments being removed from our courthouses; and prayer in Jesus name being removed from our schools. Far too holy to hitch it to the ACLU , no matter how misguided or maniacal .
I still stubbornly refuse and defuse any attempt to attach it in any way to all that I went through several years ago that (ironically) also made headlines in Christianity Today.
“Persecution is A Holy Word” was succinct and stalwart:
These double standards (of the type discussed above) are maddening examples of what CT columnist Stephen Carter has rightly called a "culture of disbelief." But in no way do they rise to the level of persecution…
How soft we in the West have become. How could we possibly tell a fellow Christian hanging from a cross in Sudan that the American Civil Liberties Union is "persecuting" us? How would the story of our church's zoning woes sound to a Christian sister in Pakistan who has been raped and forcibly married to a Muslim neighbor?..
The legal and cultural cases Limbaugh examines in his book can be called many things: injustice, liberalism run amok, or discrimination. But as long as we can redress these grievances in the courts of law and public opinion, for the sake of Zewar Mohammed Ismael's widow and five children, let's not label our grievances persecution. It demeans their sacrifice.
I still amen every word of that article.
Even though I am about to amend the amen.
Brace yourselves; all who know me, and would bet the farm that I still am no fighting fundie…
I…for the first time…gasp..…fully endorse…gulp.. the following statement:
“Though it may not seem like it at face value, pastors are persecuted in North America, I don't believe I am exaggerating to say it is far worse than in seemingly more hostile countries.”
That sound was every jaw in my congregation collectively dropping as one.
Pick up your jaws, and hold on.
I still believe...more intensely than ever..that persecution is a holy word.
True persecution does not happen in our nation.
But now I do believe...more intently than yesterday.... that "persecution" happens on a daily basis in USAmerica.
Wow, I cringe just to get that sentence onto the screen; typing it violated my conscience and offended my theology.
But "persecution" of Christians, especially pastors...occurs; to an insidious degree I never fathomed.
No one less than another veritable evangelical icon ..senior statesmen Eugene Peterson.. says so.
So the title of this post is true, but only in the limited but large scope and context of the prophetic pastor's quote.
The entire “offensive” quote at last:
Pastors have an extremely difficult job to do, and it's no surprise that many are discouraged and ready to quit. Though it may not seem like it at face value, pastors are persecuted in North America. I don't believe I am exaggerating to say it is far worse than in seemingly more hostile countries. Our culture doesn't lock us up; it simply and nicely castrates us, and replaces our vital parts with a nice and smiling face. And then we are imprisoned in a "mesh" of necessities that keep us from being pastors. (The Unnecessary Pastor", p 168)
To be continued