Yesterday, we celebrated the 241st "birthday" of our nation's Declaration of Independence. But for the past few weeks, I've actually been contemplating matters relating to our Constitution. I'm aware that the U.S. Constitution wouldn't become the law of the land for another decade, two months and 13 days after we declared our independence from British rule. And I can respect the amount of painstaking time, energy and thought our Forefathers put into creating our "more perfect Union" and the "supreme law" that would rule it. Yet, with all that is going on in our nation and the world, I've been considering lately how desperately fragile this document, and the rights granted therein, actually are.
Truth is, I'm of the mind that Christian persecution will become a widespread norm in the United States - probably in my lifetime. I don’t mean persecution of the "Starbucks-removed-the-Christmas-tree-from-their- red- cups” variety (which, by the way, isn’t persecution at all given that Christmas is a man-made holiday rooted in pagan practices AND one that Jesus never told us to celebrate in the first place. But that’s another post). I’m talking about the type of persecution the early Church endured.
I’m speaking of actual laws being passed that limit or prohibit the speech and religious expression of those who share God’s Word and support the teachings of Jesus Christ. I’m speaking of Christians being fined, arrested, jailed, losing jobs, and even our very lives for the sake of the Gospel.
Yes. Right here. In America.
I know it sounds far-fetched given that the Constitution (currently) protects our freedom of speech and religion. But I’m telling you guys – it’s coming. Not only does the Lord make it clear that widespread Christian persecution will take place in the last days before His return (Mark 13:9-13), but current events are shaping up to prove that such is on the rise at a dizzying rate. (Oh! By the way, if you’re new to this blog, we’re in the last days before Christ returns. Welcome!)
Founding (the Loss of) Freedoms
When most of us think of Christian persecution, we often think of isolated cases in the Middle East and countries in Africa and Asia. Yet, Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world. And Canada has been proof that persecution is not only possible in North America, but it is most certainly growing ever more hostile here. Ontario recently passed Bill 89, which, under its Human Rights Code, “protects” a child’s professed homosexual orientation or transgender expression and, thus, allows the government to remove children from the homes of parents who oppose gender ideology (aka: the LGBT agenda). Bill C-16 makes it illegal to use the “wrong” pronouns when referring to a transgender individual. In other words, if a man wishes to live as a woman and be called “she” but you say “he”, you can be fined or jailed. Moreover, an Ontario Christian school has been banned from teaching parts of the Bible that may be offensive to certain individuals, namely those whose sexual and/or gender expression contradict the Bible. Note that this is just a sampling of Canada's developments in the past TWO WEEKS! They've certainly has much more going on in the past two years. The devil has been ridiculously busy!
“Oh! But that’s Canada,” you say, eh?
Well, consider that in the U.S., there is a growing movement to suggest that Christians are unfit for public office. LGBT groups recently made that declaration and Bernie Sanders went so far as to suggest that a Christian’s belief in the Gospel makes us hateful and incapable of fairly serving all people - including those who don’t share our faith - specifically, Muslims. According to Sanders, the Gospel is “indefensible, it is hateful, it is Islamophobic, and it is an insult to over a billion Muslims throughout the world.” And just the other day, Tim Gill was quoted by the Rolling Stone as saying he it is his plan to use state and local governments to "punish the wicked", referring to Christians who are opposed to the LGBT agenda. Gill, a major donor to LGBT causes, was instrumental in helping advance the argument for marriage equality in Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court case that made same-sex marriage legal in the U.S.
Not only are Christians and the Gospel being increasingly criticized and threatened, the full counsel of God (aka the Bible) was recently said to have "no place in modern American society". According to Keith Burton, Director of the Center for Adventist-Muslim Relations at Oakwood University, the Word of God is an “obstacle to American freedom”. Burton's sentiments were the craziest and most foolish thing I’d ever read so, of course, I had to respond.
Religious Civil War
It seems other Christians are also responding to these sly attacks, and most are doing so through our civil government. The state of Kentucky, for instance, was pretty bold in passing the “Bible Literacy Bill” (H.B. 128), which went into effect last week. The Bill supports an elective Bible literacy course which will teach American history through a Biblical context. Kentucky Governor, Matt Bevin, argues that Biblical principles and themes shaped much of America’s laws and culture, thus he doesn’t understand why more states wouldn’t have such a course in place. Of course, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is all over this legislation. And, if I am honest, there was a time I might have squinted at what the state is doing. But knowing what I now know and after seeing what I’ve seen, I can’t say that I blame Kentucky. In fact, I fully support them!
I can recall when our nation first became extremely adamant about religious neutrality. In my ignorance, I supported the concept, thinking that by keeping everything neutral we’d maintain peace and avoid offense. BUT what I was too naive to understand was that the push for "neutrality" was truthfully a strategy to NEUTER Christians. While they were removing our Bibles and scripture verses from our desks, e-mail signatures and cubicles, EVERYONE ELSE was pushing their false religion, lies and deceptions into the mainstream under the guise of "equality" "inclusion" and "freedoms of speech and religion". Rather than keep or include Christianity in the mix in the name of "diversity" and “inclusion”, we were systematically muzzled. When I began to see how atheists, Muslims and the LGBT community were celebrated and encouraged to bring their ideologies to the forefront for diversity's sake, BUT the Biblical Christian voice was chastised, I finally put the pieces together: America wants us to shut up by any means necessary!
I perceive that, in truth, this generation doesn't REALLY care about free speech or freedom of religion for all. It doesn't really even care about "diversity". At its core, it cares about shutting down the truth of Jesus Christ and all who believe it and share it. Anything a Christian does in the name of our faith in the public (AND private) square is offensive and must be snuffed out.
After complaints from an atheist group, a U.S. town recently removed an historic park bench because “God” appearing in a quote inscribed on the bench was deemed “offensive”. But atheist groups make it an annual tradition to erect across the country billboards that mock Christians.
A Christian baker (whose bakery was privately owned, by the way) was told that he is REQUIRED to render services that contradict his sincerely-held, faith-based convictions. Churches are being pushed to provide transgender restroom accommodations. Pastors’ sermons are being demanded by the government to ensure they're not offensive to the LGBT community.
A Christian student is told wearing a cross on her necklace is “disrespectful”, while a Muslim student’s hijab must be respected as a source of pride. A high school football coach, who is Christian, is fired for praying with his team of willing students before and after games. Yet, the ACLU was mum when a public high school created a prayer room for Muslim students. And no one was fired after a Massachusetts school took Christian students on a field trip to a mosque, where students were taught about Muhammad and some participated in midday prayer (though the school was kind enough to send an apology letter home to their parents).
Again, a Canadian Christian School was banned from teaching certain parts of the Bible to avoid offense, meanwhile in Australia, students are demanding tax-payer funded "safe spaces" for Muslims to freely vent radical and offensive rhetoric from their faith.
U.S. schools are pushing for mandated curriculum in LGBT history and the tenets of Islam without parental consent. Satanists are implementing after school programs in the name of freedom of religion while at the SAME TIME pressuring schools to drop their (Christian-based) Good News clubs in the name of "freedom from religion".
Yet, the ACLU is crying foul now that Kentucky schools will be hosting an ELECTIVE Biblical literacy course? It doesn't make any sense.
I said all of this to say...
It’s getting crazy out here, Loves. But it may be easy to miss or dismiss these incremental attacks, changes and charges if we aren’t paying attention and using discernment. And while I agree with exercising our existing Constitutional rights to challenge attacks on our First Amendment rights, I would caution all to keep in mind that the weapons of our warfare are NOT carnal but mighty through God (2 Corinthians 10:4-6). We must remember that we do not war against flesh and blood, but that we are in a spiritual battle and must thusly equip ourselves in the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-20).
Christian persecution IS coming to the United States. Again, I understand that we have the Constitution. But, at some point, we WILL lose our Constitutional rights. (Yes. I just said that). If you have carefully read this piece or have been otherwise alerted, you would easily see the trajectory we are on. We are in a nation that often boasts it was founded on Christian principles, yet the Constitution once condoned slavery, and in less than a generation’s time, the Supreme Court has found a way to use the Constitution to legalize abortion AND same-sex marriage. Our citizenry is growing increasingly tolerant by the day of even the most vile of sins, and hostile toward the things of God - though 80%+ profess to be 'Christians'. We are brazenly breaking and re-interpreting God’s laws and definitions as if the Bible isn’t God’s holy word. The Holy Bible has existed for thousands of years; the Constitution hasn't even existed a quarter of a century. If America is bold enough to reinterpret God's laws, what's a man-made Constitution? We cannot continue to assume the Constitution truly protects us. They will find a creative way around the First Amendment. They will find a way to reinterpret our freedoms of religion and speech.
Therefore, we must turn to our God and one another in these last days. Paul and Silas weren’t freed from unjust imprisonment because they took their jailers to court. They were freed because they had Jesus Christ and His Body on their side (Acts 16:16-40). The early Church prayed. They fasted. They visited one another. They fed one another. They provided refuge for one another. They clothed one another. They loved one another as Christ commanded, and they trusted in the Lord with their whole hearts. Please keep that in mind.
Please (continue to) watch and pray. Please know that we are to obey God rather than man when man’s laws might cause us to break God’s commands. Please know that God is with us in all these things and will be in the things to come. Please keep your eyes on things above and meditate on all that is good and noble in Christ Jesus. And, finally, PLEASE pray for boldness! We are all going to need it.