So, we have all seen the cries of “Persecution in America!” and the countering “Christians aren’t persecuted in America, you idiot.”
I think we all need to step back a bit.
Some, especially more politically conservative Christians, are eager to see persecution in every act not favorable to Judeo-Christian culture. Meanwhile, progressive (particularly millennial) post-evangelicals are determined not so see it at all.
No doubt, we aren’t experiencing anything like the faithful fleeing ISIS in Syria and Iraq. True, we are not likely to be arrested as Christians anytime too soon. And honestly, many conservatives need to learn how to fact check memes…actually, everybody needs to learn that because practically no one does.
Still, the idea that there is no threat of persecution–and perhaps even a few instances of real persecution of Christians in the US–exhibits a failure to understand the nature of persecution.
When I studied in Egypt in 1995, Egypt received a great deal of USAID. Because of that they couldn’t persecute Christians. And typically we pretended like they didn’t. But the reality was that Christians were persecuted, by a US supported government. No they weren’t arrested frequently or tortured by government soldiers. However, they were often overlooked for government jobs and usually passed by for the highest promotions. Also, if a legal problem came up between a Christian and a Muslim, well, we might just say the system was sometimes more fair to the Muslim.
When such things happen simply because of someone’s faith, they are rightly called persecution. To not recognize them as such at home opens us to the failure to recognize them abroad. Furthermore, while I know there is a debate around the case of the baker’s in Oregon being fined,if it turns out that they have been fined for no other “wrong-doing” than refusing to bake a cake for a wedding that goes against their conscience, you may not agree with the dictates of their conscience, but you need to recognize reality of their persecution.