There’s a persistent, pernicious sentiment from certain Christian conservatives that they’re being persecuted or oppressed for their religious beliefs.
It’s gotten louder over the years and it ranges from things that sound silly — “There’s a War on Christmas because I’m asked to say ‘Happy Holidays’ in December — to things that sound serious: “I’m being compelled by the government to do something that violates the tenets of Christianity.”
This latter claim has started cropping up a lot; it’s part of conservative opposition to the Affordable Care Act (Christian employers shouldn’t be mandated to provide birth control coverage) and it’s part of conservative opposition to same-sex marriage (Christian-owned businesses shouldn’t be compelled to participate).
These objections are often couched in the most hysterical sort of rhetoric, namely that atheists and liberals are persecuting Christians and that the very fabric of our republic is being pulled asunder if the freedom of religion can be so obviously undermined in this way.
But here’s the thing:
Freedom of religion isn’t being threatened and Christians aren’t being persecuted. What’s being threatened, actually, is a particular form of intolerance that dresses itself in religious rhetoric.
There are millions and millions of Christians in America who aren’t intolerant of gays and lesbians and who don’t oppose the right of women — like men — to make decisions pertaining to reproductive health for themselves. In this sense, Christianity isn’t being persecuted. What’s being threatened, instead, is a particular form of belief that centers around not simply the Christian Bible, but around intolerance of others to make life choices for themselves if those life choices don’t line up with a particular interpretation of the Bible.
Are we so intolerant of the intolerant in America? Not usually. And, in fact, we’re not being all that intolerant now. Christian conservatives can still oppose same-sex marriage or birth control or whatever else in their private lives. The government isn’t compelling them to attend these marriages or to use birth control. The government isn’t challenging their beliefs or compelling them to change their minds.
American Christians — and everyone else too — can believe anything they want to believe, but they cannot use their beliefs as a cudgel; belief — even sincerely held belief — isn’t an excuse to discriminate against others or to curtail their rights.
There are, incidentally, no shortage of articles online to which one might turn for a reminder about what actual persecution of Christians looks like; Christians do face persecution in many parts of the world … but America isn’t really one.
We deal in a curious and laughable confusion of notions concerning God. We divide Him in two, bring half of Him down to an obscure and infinitesimal corner of the world to confer salvation upon a little colony of Jews — and only Jews, no one else — and leave the other half of Him throned in heaven and looking down and eagerly and anxiously watching for results. We reverently study the history of the earthly half, and deduce from it the conviction that the earthly half has reformed, is equipped with morals and virtues, and in no way resembles the abandoned, malignant half that abides upon the throne. We conceive that the earthly half is just, merciful, charitable, benevolent, forgiving, and full of sympathy for the sufferings of mankind and anxious to remove them.
Apparently we deduce this character not by examining facts, but by diligently declining to search them, measure them, and weigh them. The earthly half requires us to be merciful, and sets us an example by inventing a lake of fire and brimstone in which all of us who fail to recognize and worship Him as God are to be burned through all eternity. And not only we, who are offered these terms, are to be thus burned if we neglect them, but also the earlier billions of human beings are to suffer this awful fate, although they all lived and died without ever having heard of Him or the terms at all. This exhibition of mercifulness may be called gorgeous. We have nothing approaching it among human savages, nor among the wild beasts of the jungle.
I spent my afternoon drive contemplating how different our world might be if the largest and most powerful concentration of Christians in the world today (the supposed majority of the United States) acted a bit more like the example set by a Sunni Muslim teenager known as Malala Yousafzai when attacked by her enemies.
Oh sweet irony.
Let’s rephrase for just a quick second here…
If you’re a Muslim and get killed by the American military machine, I guess it’s not really newsworthy. This is our church.
I find it morbidly fascinating how our personal biases affect the way we respond to (a nearly continuous stream of) tragedies around the world.
Hypocrisy and selfishness are my least favorite aspects of humanity, I think.
So, in an effort to avoid wasting any time with more suggestions such as that of sds (who recommended I read The Case For Christ when I asked for historical research… a suggestion that so obviously belies his all-consuming bias that it would be funny if it weren’t so tragic), I figured I’d just quickly pull some books off my shelf that relate in some way or another to the topic at hand… an apologetics approach to the historical reality of a miraculous resurrection of one Jesus the Christ, per our posts on the matter earlier today that, believe it or not, are the outgrowth of me making a joke about the fucking Minnesota Vikings. But anyway… here we are.
So, I’ve read all of these.
This is not an exhaustive stack of all of the books I’ve read regarding evangelical apologetics and the defense of the Christian faith. I have more… a lot more… but these may be suggested as other books to read a la Strobel’s The Case For Christ and I just want to save everyone some time. I’m a giver like that.
I also maintain that none of these come anywhere close to fitting the criteria that I requested in my original query here. Again, if anyone has a research paper that is peer-reviewed by dispassionate individuals who are more interested in honoring the scientific method than theological dogma, please send them (or links to them) my way. Please. No snark. I mean it. I’m genuinely interested. I think the fact that I’ve read hundreds of books on the topic would demonstrate that, but apparently sds still “knows” I’m only here to land some snarky verbal jabs… (bee tee dubs… psychological projection much?).
Ok, moving on.
Here’s the titles and authors of the related books pictured above :
- The Case For Easter (Lee Strobel)
- Fundamentals Of The Faith (Peter Kreeft)
- The Case For Christianity (C. S. Lewis)
- Jesus Among Other Gods (Ravi Zacharias)
- Miracles (C. S. Lewis)
- The Case For A Creator (Lee Strobel)
- Defeating Darwinism (Phillip Johnson)
- God Against The Gods (Jonathan Kirsch)
- The Scandal Of The Evangelical Mind (Mark Noll)
- 50 Reasons People Give For Believing In A God (Guy Harrison)
- What’s So Great About Christianity? (Dinesh D’Souza)
- Encyclopedia Of Bible Difficulties (Gleason Archer)
- 36 Arguments For The Existence Of God (Rebecca Goldstein)
- The Bible As It Was (James Kugel)
Alright… I’m going to pour myself a scotch now.