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Not much of a war / June 20, 2014

Dear Viewpoint:

THE MYTHICAL WAR ON CHRISTIANITY — Little crosses have been popping up on lawns throughout South Boston and Halifax County. This seemed like a nice profession of faith until I learned what the real reason was for their appearance. It appears that a local “benefactor” has been passing them out as a protest against the “war on Christianity.”

What war on Christianity? Nearly 80 percent of the population of this country identifies itself as being Christian— and just shy of 100 percent of Halifax County. The government of our town and county is predominantly Christian. The president of the United States is Christian, Congress is overwhelmingly Christian and the majority of the justices on the Supreme Court are Christians. In fact, 85% of the federal government is Christian. There are 340,000 Christian congregations and 1600 “megachurches” throughout this country. Ten thousand of these have a presence on the Internet. There are countless Christian television, cable and radio programs and scores of churches now have content available for streaming. Not one of these is censored or blocked in any way. On the contrary, Christians work tirelessly, and often successfully, at inserting their beliefs in school textbooks and in federal, state and local laws. And they believe it is their right to do this. By the same token, they believe it is not the right of anyone to object.

There are more than 120 Christian churches in Halifax County alone. I would be willing to wager that no one has ever been prevented from entering one of these churches, been prevented from worshiping when and as they please, had a prayer muzzled or a sermon censored. I am pretty sure that not one of these churches was ever marched upon, subjected to a protest or abuse, or forced to have its doors closed.

Neither have Christians had to worry about being beaten or even murdered because they kissed a loved one or held their hands in public, nor have they ever found “Christian” spray-painted on their cars or homes. They have not been prevented from adopting children or from marrying whom they please, nor have they ever been fired from a job or barred from employment for being Christian.

Given all this, anyone suggesting that in this nation Christians are somehow an abused, suppressed or persecuted culture is disingenuous almost beyond belief. Yet every time a Christian is criticized, however justly, the cry of “persecution” and “harassment” rings out. What makes this naivete even worse is the hypocrisy it reflects. I cannot think of a single business or institution in this country that explicitly bans Christians. Yet there are Christian leaders who exhort their congregations to shun, ostracize and even persecute those whom their faith finds unacceptable for one reason or another. Businesses are urged to deny these people services, products and jobs, associations are encouraged to deny them membership. Christians are exhorted to prevent others from the free expression of their beliefs when those do not align with their own. And when Christians comply with this intolerance, they are applauded.

Yet...should a Christian discover even a hint of equal prejudice against themselves — even if it only takes the form of vocal or written criticism — the wail of despair, self-pity and self-righteousness is deafening. Perhaps the most egregious hypocrisy is when the complaint concerns someone having the sheer audacity to want the same rights a Christian freely enjoys.

When Hitler wrote that he believed that he was “acting in the sense of the Almighty Creator: By warding off the Jews, I am fighting for the Lord’s work,” he was expressing his views as a Christian. Are his views and actions sacrosanct because they were faith-based? Do those who defend the homophobia of Phil Robertson and others because it is supposedly rooted in their “faith” also defend antisemitism? Do they defend with equal fervor Robertson’s ignorant racism? Jesus’ explicit condoning of slavery helped keep that institution alive and flourishing in this country for centuries. Were the Christian beliefs of slave-owners being violated by the Emancipation Proclamation or by laws banning involuntary servitude? Were the Abolitionists really waging a war on Christianity? The New Testament makes it clear that women are to be considered as little better than that how you want your wife and daughter to be treated? Or, if you are a woman reading this, is this how you want to be treated? Jesus never spoke a word explicitly condemning homosexuality...but was adamantly against divorce and, what was even worse, remarriage (Mark 10:11–12). How many churches ban people who have been divorced? How many businesses refuse them service?

No one is attacking Christianity...only those who use Christianity as a convenient shield behind which to hide while they spew bigotry, hatred and ignorance, and who are always able to quote the chapter and verse that justifies that hatred. No one is attacking Christianity, only those Christians who have no tolerance for other beliefs...let alone the right to not believe. If anyone deserves contempt by Christians, it is those who debase the faith in this fashion, not those who condemn them for doing so.

Ron Miller
South Boston

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