Regarding (American, White) Christian Persecution

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The Atlantic recently ran an article on the idea of Christian persecution in America. Citing a recent report, Emma Green notes that nearly 8 out of 10 white evangelical Protestants “believe they are subject to religious discrimination in the United States.”

While this isn’t surprising or new (the persecution narrative is an old line in evangelicalism) it still warrants some discussion. The fact that we (white Christians) believe ourselves to be suffering from persecution points to the great deceit that has befallen the white church. The tenants of our Christian faith are plastered all over our monuments, laws, and politicians— a large majority of which are (literally and figuratively) white. This says nothing of the fact that claiming persecution spits in the face of those who face true religious persecution across the globe. And it should be pointed out that, ironically, those who are fleeing actual religious persecution are some of the refugees to whom we, as a country, have historically closed our borders.

I am not the first one to suggest that to those for whom the privilege is the norm, equality feels like oppression. Nor do I absolve myself from this critique. As long as I value my welfare and my freedom over the rights and well-being of the other, I will never truly be free. Instead, I enslave myself to the fallacy that my values, my security, and my beliefs are what matter. Encountering contradicting conversation (let alone legislation) feels threatening when I hold my comfort as absolute and sacred. It’s a shame that I often do this while also claiming to be an advocate of Christ’s love, all the while Christ is to be found well beyond the gates of my privilege.

I’m a white American Christian; this article is about my demographic, my posture and my tendencies. And it makes me sad. It’s a testimony to why so many in my generation would rather be spiritual than Christian. The hypocrisy is too much to bear. My hypocrisy is too much to bear. It’s so much easier for me to yell “persecution!” than to see the shifting tides of culture as an opportunity to reflect and reexamine. I am not saying I shouldn’t take a stand for what I believe in. But our dogma is cheap if its chief concern and expression is our personal well-being.

We must fix this. If we are going to claim any allegiance to Christ’s love, then we need to make the banner under which we fly not one of “hear us!” but “hear THEM!” When we use our voice to advocate only for ourselves, we lose the voice of Christ, whose voice was always for the other.

If we’re going to bemoan the loss of something, let’s bemoan the loss of our ability to speak with Christ’s voice, not the so-called loss of our freedom.

 

 

Whatever the results of today’s election…

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Whatever the result of today’s election, Donald John Trump and Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton are still made in the image of God.

Whatever the result of today’s election, Trump supporters are still God’s children. Clinton voters are too. Yes, all of them. And God wants all his children to be near to him. He mourns when they mourn. He hears them when they sing and when they pray.

Whatever the results of today’s election, there are still reasons to be thankful for this country and the people who run it. We are allowed to vote. We are allowed to speak out against politicians we do not support. We write our own history books. We have running water. We do not live under the imminent threat of foreign invasion.

Whatever the results of today’s election, America will one day be judged by a righteous judge. And we will be held accountable for the things we’ve done as a nation, from bombs dropped in the name of peace to humanitarian aid delivered to war-torn regions. It will be grace that saves us from the ugliness of our sins, our racism, our oppression, our greed, and gluttony. Only grace.

Whatever the result of today’s election, God’s kingdom is coming to this earth and his plan will, one day, be accomplished in full. Whatever the result of today’s election, his will is being done and his kingdom is coming right now, even in the smallest of ways, even when we can’t see it. Even when we don’t understand. 

Don’t get me wrong, I am praying for a specific outcome in today’s election. I voted for a candidate. My heart breaks at the thought of the other candidate winning; anger and frustration rise within me whenever I hear them speak. And I struggle to find the humility to love the other side.

But whatever the result of today’s election, it will be grace that saves me tomorrow. And it will be grace that convicts me to be a citizen of heaven in an earthly kingdom.

Because whatever the result of today’s election, I need to remember that I am one who follows Christ. This defines me. This directs me. This compels me to love others and love the world God has created. To love justice, to walk humbly and in grace.

And it forces me, whatever the results of today’s election, to live life as a conversation with God, and to invite others into that conversation, no matter who they voted for.

It is a simple conversation. It is also infinitely mysterious.

It goes something like this:

The people: “Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy.”

Jesus: “It is finished.”

The people: “Amazing grace, has saved a wretch like me…

 

…whatever the results of today’s election.”

A Prayer For Ecuador

On Saturday night, Ecuador was hit with its deadliest earthquake since 1987. So far, over 400 people have died and thousands are injured. You can read more about it here, and support the relief efforts by going here.

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Photo source: CNN

Dear Lord,

Today our hearts are burdened for Ecuador. We cannot imagine the terror of those who survived the earthquake. We cannot imagine the despair of those who have lost everything: loved ones, livelihoods, possessions. We cannot imagine the mixture of hope and dread for the rescue workers and families, racing the against clock to save their loved ones. We cannot imagine this, so we pray.

God, we ask that you strengthen all those involved with the rescue efforts. What a exhausting and emotionally taxing endeavor. We pray that you comfort- in some divine and unimaginable way- those who have lost loved ones these past few days.

We pray that you provide resources- food, water, clothing- for those who have lost all their earthly possessions. We pray that you provide compassion among Ecuador’s neighbors and countries around the globe. We pray you provide hope for anyone affected by this tragedy.

Thank you for the joy and relief that comes with every survivor who is rescued from the rubble. But, at the same time, I can’t help but think how horrific it must be for the other families, who wait and wait and wait, to see their loved ones emerge, only to wait in vain.

Lord, as I think of Ecuador, I am reminded of the words of the forty-sixth Psalm: “We shall not fear…though earth give way…though mountains tremble.” This seems impossible right now, oh Lord. Trite, even. How can someone- in the wake of such natural disasters- not be controlled by fear?

I trust that this is only possible in you. So I ask that you would enable those who are suffering from this earthquake to feel your control over their plight. It does not make sense, oh Lord, why you would allow something like this to happen. Really, God. What is the point? What are you doing?

But I pray- from afar- that I would be still and know that you are God, while also praying that you would be with those who suffer in Ecuador.

Amen.