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Feb 10 2010

Persecution – The Other Side

"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." (Luke 23:34)

Yesterday I posted an article on Christian Persecution.  My point of view in the article is that Christians in this country are generally safe and can worship without fear of death or torture unlike Christians in other countries.  I apparently touched on a sore spot.  I would like to share an email that I received (with permission) but I won’t identify any person as that is not important.  The emailer shared that he was fired because he was not a Christian.  He lives in an area of the country that he calls the “bible belt.”  No reason was given for his firing but he knew based on circumstances that he shared in his email but those circumstances are not important to this post.

Even as a Christian, I am vehemently opposed to Christians firing anyone for their lack of faith in Christianity or even not hiring someone because of their lack of faith (unless the organization is a faith based organization).  Who do we think we are to set the standard that one must believe in Christ in order to earn a living?  There is no support in any way in scripture that would justify such an action.  We are not commanded to force people into submission – even Christ did not take that position.  He forced no one to faith.  None of the disciples forced anyone into submission to Christ.  Last time I checked, it was the Muslims that are forcing people to follow their faith.  Sure they will kill you if you don’t but they are a forced conversion.  Christianity is not a forced conversion.  Threatening someone’s livelihood if they are not Christian is a forced conversion any way you slice it and is wrong on so many levels.

First, it is not a conversion but merely an act in order to keep one’s job.  In other words, if a person does not “play” at being a Christian, they will be without a means to support themselves.  Is this where we want to go?

Second, where did Christian love go?  Out the window?  Is that how we are now showing the Gospel to non-believers?  Persecuting others because of their lack of faith certainly does not make Christianity inviting.  The image that is left is is not one that Christ taught.

We complain of persecution by those that do not believe but somehow it is okay when we do it?  In fact, I read on another blog where a Christian was persecuted – that is they did not receive a job because of their faith in Christ even though they were more qualified than the person hired.  If we’re doing the same, is  that not the definition of hypocrisy? If we are doing the same, we have given up our right to complain.  We can’t speak out about persecution if we are doing the same to others.  I blogged this past December how Christians demanded that we be greeted with “Merry Christmas” and if retailers did not comply with our request, we were to avoid them.  I can only imagine the outcry within the Christian community  if the tables were turned and our livelihood was threatened because we did not greet non-believers in the way they wished to be greeted.

Lastly, even though it is true that we do take plenty of heat for our faith in this country, are we going to play the same game?  What ever happened to turn the other cheek?

Christ uttered these words as He was crucified (an unimaginable death):

  • And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments. Luke 23:34 (ESV)

Stephen certainly was persecuted for his faith in Christ.  He lost his life because of his faith.  He was stoned (a most horrible way to die).  His last recorded words are:

  • And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep. Acts 7:60 (ESV)

We might want to remember these words from Christ and Stephen when we are persecuted for our faith.  Let’s not give up our right to speak out against any persecution against us by doing the very thing that we complain against.

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13 comments

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  1. Repent Harlequin

    When we don’t know the details and only hear one side it’s really not practicle to make determinations, and I’m not going to feel bad based on someone else’s anecdotal perceptions. I think we all know this is about your friend you picked up from the other blog.

    For all we know he could have gotten fired for spending company time updating his blog.

  2. Tishrei

    Let me share a couple of stories that I know of personally. At my office, we had a temp — she was an atheist. She really was a very nice person who was not pushy about her beliefs. In fact, I am the one that brought up Christianity to her and that is how I learned she was an atheist. Anyway, she was assigned in her last job to the Word Processing department. The women in that department were close and very friendly towards each other. And they were Christians. On her first day in that department, she was asked if she was a Christian. She replied that she was not but did not share that she was an atheist — just that she was not a Christian. Because she declared herself not to be a Christian, she was shunned by her co-workers and working in that department became very uncomfortable. She eventually requested a transfer to another department.

    What a horrible display of Christianity by those Christians. I’m just saying that if we don’t want to be treated like that, we better be sure our own house is clean. If I treat a non-Christian like that, I give up my right to speak out when I am treated like that.

    There is a lot within the Christian community (we both know this) that is very un-Christ like. I just think we need to make sure our hands are clean and many times it is not.

    When I was on that Christian discussion board, man was that a mean group of people (and I used to do it as well). If one was not a Christian or one did not agree with the doctrines held by the owners of that group, look out and duck.

    Let me also share this. Before I came to Christ, I was, as you know a muslim. I can say that if the faith of my youth was attacked by the person who shared the Gospel with me, he would have given me fuel to argue. Who would be the winner?

    As to the emailer, I do not know the story personally so you could be right. I don’t have a reason do disbelieve so I take it as truth. I tend to believe it because I have personally witnessed that type of behavior from Christians. I just think it’s a shame that within the Christian community, we give folks that are not Christians valid arguments against us — just like they give us valid arguments against them. No one wins.

    1. Repent Harlequin

      Okay, it occured to me that I may have come off rather insensitive. I’m sorry for that.

      The workplace is no place for any litmus tests on one’s beliefs or lack thereof. It’s where work is done and if the person is putting forth their best that should be all anyone need ask. It’s not a social club either, though I would say that “getting along” and exercising some interpersonal skills even among people with whom you disagree is necessary.

      When I think of persecution for one’s beliefs, or lack thereof, I’m really never thinking in such broad terms. I do realize, however, that I can’t fit into another’s shoes and what they experience, while academic to me, is very real to them.

      Please excuse my flippancy. I am sorry.

      1. Tishrei

        Hi,

        Gosh, this was one of the nicest comments — thank you.

        I have been thinking about this post and the effect it has had. I honestly did not mean to generate strife but I seem to be really good at that :(

        The position I was taking — well, let me explain it from a different perspective. On the internet discussion group I used to be on, one of the managers would frequently tell people that they needed to find a bible believing church to attend. Unbelievably, she did not attend church herself. I always thought it took a certain amount of moxie to tell people that they needed to find a good church when it was a known fact that this was not something she felt applied to her.

        In any event, THANK YOU for your apology — and I do really and truly understand what you were saying.

        What a messed up world we live in, huh?

        1. Repent Harlequin

          Tishrei, somehow my reply to your last post ended up ahead of it. I knew who you were talking about before seeing your e-mail. I’ve always found it funny and ungenuine getting advice from someone who doesn’t follow it themselves.

          1. Tishrei

            Hi,

            The way the comments work is if you’re replying to a particular comment, you click on reply just underneath the comment. If you want to start a whole new comment, then you go to the very bottom and type in the box. I knew what you were replying to :)

            We both know who we’re talking about — and yes, it really takes a lot of moxie to get on someone’s case for not doing something that they are unwilling to do. Oh well!

  3. Repent Harlequin

    Tishrei,

    We could all come up with stories. I agree with you that these women were wrong. Pardon me for saying this, but women can be cliquey, Anyway, I’ve worked with unbelievers and believers, as I do now, and I just don’t have anything like this in my long work experience. In fact, one of my co-workers who I have been helping develop her career for the last 3 years is an atheist and I’ve been as caring and patient with her as anyone can be.

    I think that about exhausts my interest in the subject.

  4. Margaret

    Tishrei,

    You are very right in pointing out all sides of the story….. And two wrongs don’t make a right….. No matter what sort of social grouping there is, there has been behavior like this probably since the beginning of time….. Paul points out such behavior in Galatians chapter 2 when he opposed the way Peter was acting….. Though Peter was a well-meaning Christian, he was wrong in his behavior….. Everyone needs to watch themselves, because we are all prone to sin.

    Margaret

    1. Tishrei

      Thanks Margaret. And I couldn’t agree more — there’s been this kind of behavior since forever. Kind of shows what a messed up world we live in, doesn’t it?

  5. Repent Harlequin

    Hey, I know who you’re talking about :-)

    1. Tishrei

      :)

  6. Michael

    Hi Tishrei,
    I appreciate the well thought out and fair post you wrote here. One of the things that we, here in Canada, and those in the United States enjoy is the freedom to worship, or not worship, however we please. Discrimination based on religious belief is, in my opinion, evil, and it flies in the face of what Jesus taught. (Parable of the Good Samaritan).

    1. Tishrei

      Thanks for your comment. I am forever grateful and blessed that I am an American and can worship when I want without fear for my life.

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