Rogue Nation: Birthplace of Religious Freedom Added to the List of Countries Where Christians Face the Most Persecution

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The silence was deafening as the United States, the birthplace of religious freedom, joined the infamous ranks of the world’s worst places to be a Christian—places where followers of Jesus Christ face the worst harassment and persecution because of their faith. Major American media outlets largely ignored a story of immense implications for the future of the Judeo-Christian worldview and western civilization.

This dirty dozen is a list created by the International Christian Concern (ICC), a watchdog organization formed in 1995 to protect the rights of Christians worldwide, released in its 2016 Hall of Shame Report. It was not surprising that the Islamist dominated countries of Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Egypt and Nigeria made the list for their persecution and killing of the Christian “infidels.” Nor was it a shock that Russia, Mexico and India were noted because of the suppression of evangelical Christianity either by people espousing other variations of Christianity or by Jesus-hating radical Hindus. It is even understandable that that the totalitarian communist/atheist states of China and North Korea were included.

Nearly simultaneous with the ICC’s report was the European Parliament’s acknowledgement that Christianity, not Islam, is the world’s most persecuted religion. The Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World, confirmed that Christians are currently the earth’s most harassed and intimidated religious group that “routinely suffer religiously motivated persecution.”

Regarding the ICC report, what raises eyebrows is the first-time-ever addition of the United States to the list of the twelve worst countries for the Christian faith.  The ICC’s explanation is as follows:

“Throughout the US, current events and shifting perceptions are causing conflicts between Christian beliefs and public sentiment. This cultural shift affects Christians businesses, organizations and individuals through legal action, free speech infringement, public expressions of faith, and employment.”

The article explains that Christians in the US are facing constant attacks in the media, where they are portrayed as bigoted, racist, sexist, and close-minded. Furthermore, Christians and all religious people are being marginalized through laws and legal action. Specific examples include Christian bakers fined $135,000 for declining to back a cake for a same-sex wedding, Intervarsity Christian fellowship losing official recognition as a student club at California public colleges, employees being terminated because of their faith, and many more. The ICC report cites that claims of “intolerance” and “inequality” are being used to bully Christians and create legal precedents that are actually undermining well established First Amendment rights, including the freedom of speech and free exercise of religion.

As we celebrate the peaceful transfer of power, President-elect Trump may provide some relief for believers if he fulfills his promise to respect and restore religious freedom. The overwhelming evidence of the past eight years reveals that President Obama’s legacy must include the truth that he was no friend of religious freedom, exasperating Christians by his First Amendment undermining actions, which include, but are not limited to:

  • Trying to force Catholic nuns (The Little Sisters of the Poor) and other church groups to provide abortion-related products and services.
  • Supporting the redefinition of marriage to include same-sex couples (Obergefell v. Hodges).
  • The United States Commission on Civil Rights issuing its 2016 anti-religious hit piece report suggesting that sexual liberty (i.e. new anti-discrimination laws) should prevail over religious liberty claims (First Amendment protected) and asserting that “religious freedom” and “religious liberty” are code for anti-LBGT discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, etc. (i.e. Christians are the “deplorables”).
  • The Department of Justice and Department of Education’s 2016 transgender bathroom mandate, forcing public schools to allow student access to bathrooms and locker rooms corresponding based on their perceived gender identity rather than their biological sex.

The ICC posits that part of the explanation for the change may be growing secularization, citing a Pew Research poll showing that those the total U.S. adult population identifying as non-religious jumped by seven percent in just seven years, from 16 percent to 23 percent (2007-2014). Notably, a stunning 35 percent of millennials identify as atheist, agnostic or nothing in particular! The report, How America Changed During Barack Obama’s Presidency, confirms that those identifying as Christians also dropped seven percent, from 78 percent to 71 percent, though the share of evangelicals has remained fairly stable. So, what does this all mean?

First, it means we must recognize that there is rapidly growing public pressure on American Christians today, as many secular-progressive elite forces are seeking to drive us out of the public square into hiding and to silence us and the gospel of Jesus Christ. We live in a time where, sadly, the church is far more influenced by the culture than it is influencing the culture. “One nation” once “under God” has become “divisible,” and divided, as we are now left “with liberty and justice for” some. Most Christians in the US are not handling the current hostile environment very well and many are simply giving in to the pressure, allowing themselves to be silenced and marginalized. Biblical resistance is required. Millennials are the most vulnerable to cultural pressure and the church must do a much better job of inculcating a comprehensive biblical worldview, passing the baton of “the faith of our fathers,” to them.

Second, it means, as I have been warning others for more than a decade, that we are rapidly moving from “soft” persecution towards “hard” persecution of the church in a place formerly known as the land of the free and home of the brave. It is true that while some of us are losing our livelihood, we are not being imprisoned or killed yet, but if the pendulum keeps swinging in its current direction, those prospects may not be far off. The separation of sheep and goats, already well underway, will continue and accelerate. Do not be alarmed that many you thought were authentic believers were only pretending. We need to realize that persecution is a normal part of being a Christian and gird our loins accordingly.

Third, it means that if we value our freedom and the gospel of Jesus Christ, we had better wake up, engage the culture by speaking the truth in love (Eph. 4:15), and fight the good fight of faith by actively pushing back culturally, politically, and legally. The American “health and wealth gospel” will be nakedly unmasked for the fraud that it always was. This is not the time for wimpy, half-hearted, “fluffy-bunny” Jesus or “comfortable” Christianity. Those days are long gone in America.  But do not despair!  We have the hope and confidence that our ultimate victory is secure in Jesus Christ. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness had not overcome it (John 1:5).

Ready or not, Biblical promises of persecution are about to get very “real” and, especially for the unprepared, it’s going to be a rough ride. You are not alone. There is a strong remnant. You are surrounded by a cloud of faithful followers of Jesus Christ. Be much in the Word, prayer, and fellowship. Be filled with the Spirit. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus.

French court recognizes the “right” to not be offended by the truth! 

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Last month a French court upheld an administrative ban on a positive and uplifting television advertisement featuring children with Down Syndrome.  The constructive commercial was created by the World Down Syndrome Foundation in 2014 to commemorate World Down Syndrome Day.  The touching tribute has more than 7.5 million views on YouTube.

The positive piece features children addressing a pregnant woman who has been informed her child will have Down Syndrome. The woman writes, “I’m scared: What kind of life will my child have?” In reply, beautiful smiling children with Down Syndrome from across the globe reassure the anxious mother that her child will be able to hug, run to you, speak, write, go to school, work, tell you he loves you, be happy and you will be happy too.  The children acknowledge that it will be “difficult,” but “[i]sn’t it like that for all mothers?”  The video closes with the smiling children hugging their mothers.  I strongly encourage you to take a few minutes to watch the video.

One thing is clear: France can’t handle the truth. In fact, because the powerful promotion did not make the secular progressive French government “happy,” the Orwellian court recently upheld a ban of the video by the French Broadcasting Council.  The court found that the depiction of happy and healthy children with Down Syndrome was “likely to disturb the conscience of women who had lawfully made different personal life choices.”

George Will in the Washington Post brilliantly points out the disturbing trend of the secular left’s growing discomfort with inconvenient truths, leading increasingly to state suppression of facts when they do not comfortably align with the worldviews of those peddling self-serving distortions of reality.

“Pictures persuade. Today’s improved prenatal sonograms make graphic the fact that the moving fingers and beating heart are not mere “fetal material.” They are a baby. Toymaker Fisher-Price, children’s apparel manufacturer OshKosh, McDonald’s and Target have featured Down syndrome children in ads that the French court would probably ban from television.”

France’s morally vacuous pagan thinking is not limited to post-Christian Europe and is having a deadly effect worldwide. In France, approximately 97% of babies with Down Syndrome, as revealed by pre-natal genetic testing, are killed. In America the rate is 90%.  In this regard, Margaret Sanger would applaud the French government for its callous commitment to the dark “virtues” of eugenics.  This is the result of an increasing rejection of the truth that each life is sacred and beautiful, being known by God and created in His image.

What France is in effect saying is that the lives of people with Down Syndrome, and by implication people with any disabilities, are not worth living or allowing to live.  Our wonderful and precious sixteen year old adopted son Ryan has autism. He is a unique and valuable blessing who brings our family a lot of joy every day.  My wife has often remarked that she is very happy they have not yet developed a genetic test for autism, otherwise millions of American children, including our beautiful Ryan, might not have escaped the womb alive.

But what France is also saying is that the state should have the authority to suppress the truth when it does not support the state’s preferred message on the subject.  However, France’s foolishness does not end there.  In doing so, the court recognizes a “right” of women who have decided to kill their children with Down Syndrome to not have to face reality in a TV commercial or be “offended” by the truth.

Can America handle the truth? Perhaps not. I pray that such foolish totalitarian-fascism will not come to America, but I fear that it is already here.  Many college campuses have turned into politically correct coddling centers where sensitive liberal “snow flake” students are assigned to safe spaces and cry rooms and given Play-Doh and coloring books.  Why? Apparently, it is to avoid hard truths and hurt feelings.  While students with traditional beliefs, especially those based upon a Judeo-Christian worldview, are increasingly ostracized, demonized, and marginalized.  When feelings replace facts, you know that a culture is collapsing.

What about the feelings of the Christian florists, bakers, and photographers? Well, apparently because their beliefs are not aligned with uber-liberal PC values, their feelings, religious beliefs, economic interests, and civil rights just do not matter and are not entitled to any recognition or respect.  Therefore, those darn Christians can now in the name of a new brand of “justice,” be dragged before human rights commissions, fined, run out of business, and lose their livelihoods.  Tragically, the land of justice, freedom, and equality has increasingly become for many Christians a land of intolerance and injustice—where some people are less free and some civil rights are more equal than others.

Where does this all end?  If these disturbing trends continue unopposed and unabated, I fear we will see increasing state coerced distortions of reality and suppression truth, thought, and expression—especially the freedom of speech and religious freedom—all in the name of progress!

It is time for us to rise up and rededicate ourselves to being America again, not France. The very lives and the civil rights of millions of Americans, yet unborn, depend on it!