There are few publications as shrill and inaccurate as American Thinker. The amount of articles I read from them that make me laugh out loud at the ridiculousness of it all is uncountable. I gave up taking the publication seriously a long time ago. Today, however, one of its articles got me thinking: are Christians really a persecuted group?
Having finished The Myth of Persecution yesterday, it is hard to not notice the instances of Christians’ martyrdom complex. I have yet to see an article, a blog post or a Facebook comment talking about how Christians are persecuted the whole world over. Even without having read that book, however, it is hard to understand how the biggest religion in the world, Christianity, can claim it is a minority group and facing persecution. Sorry, I’m not buying it. That’s partly why I laughed when I read “Persecution of Christians in America: It’s Not Just ‘Over There” over at American Thinker. It makes laughable claims, like this one:
That is because for most Americans, persecution of Christians is perceived as happening only somewhere over there in other countries. Distance serves as anesthetic. Certainly it’s not happening here. Not in the United States of America! Numbed Christians in America assume they are safe from persecution.
But they are not safe.”
What a beautiful rhetorical flourish completely devoid of logic or evidence!
But it did get me thinking, what would Zeus have to say about this? Today we take for granted that Greek and Roman gods are the stuff of myth. I think most of us find it hard to take ancient religion seriously as a religion. But it was. It had its ceremonies, rites, prayers and beliefs just the same as Christianity does today. So why do we think of it as a silly superstition? And, more importantly, why did it die?
In part it died because Constantine made Christianity the new state religion, which allowed Christians to destroy its competitors. In fact, there was a certain level of religious persecution of Greco-Roman religious believers. Constantius II, the son of Constantine, instituted laws which we today would characterize as religious persecution.
Constantine’s son, Constantius II, was a Christian and a fierce opponent of Paganism. In 353 and 356 CE, he issued decrees that closed all of the Pagan temples, made the practice of sacrifices to the ancient Gods and Goddesses a capital crime, and even executed anyone who attended sacrifices or worshiped idols. One of his favorite sayings was: “Cesset superstitio; sacrificiorum aboleatur insania” (Let superstition cease; let the folly of sacrifices be abolished).
… Constantius apparently did not attempt to stop the Christians from destroying and pillaging many of the ancient temples.
A convert to Christianity, Firmicus Maternus, commented:
“Paganism, most holy emperors, must be utterly destroyed and blotted out, and disciplined by the severest enactments of your edicts, lest the deadly delusion of the presumption continue to stain the Roman world. … How fortunate you are that God, whose agents you are, has reserved for you the destruction of idolatry and the ruin of profane temples.” [Events during the 4th century
CE in the Roman Empire from Religious Tolerance.org]
There is plenty of evidence that Christians used their new-found legality and position in order to exterminate any religious competitors, including Zeus and other pagan religions. Still no one talks about this. We just assume that polytheism died out on its own. But it didn’t.
They were not safe.
Zeus would today laugh at Christians who claim they are persecuted and rightly so. Instances of real persecution (and I do not doubt there is some) are minimal. In fact, they only become important because Christians claim they are part of some great spiritual war. The myth of Christian persecution loses its teeth if you do not believe that religion is true.
Look. I’m not going to advocate ignoring instances of abuse and murder against any group. I know enough about “persecution” from experience that I would not wish it upon anyone, nor would I turn a blind eye to someone who was being persecuted. But American Christians? Persecuted? Seriously?
When was the last time someone beat you up in the bathroom for being a Christian? Or denied you the right to marry because you were a Christian? Said you couldn’t build a religious center somewhere in New York? Refused you service because you were Christian? Said that you were just one step away from bestiality and incest because you were Christian? Shot you dead in the street while you were unarmed and running away because you were Christian? Deported you back to the third world country where you’re most likely going to be killed because you are a Christian? Killed you in a drone strike because you are Christian? Took away your tax exempt status because you are a Christian? Did violence to you because you were wearing a head covering because you are a Christian? Said “Rape is the only thing you’re good for” because you’re a Christian? Dictated what you could do with your body because you are a Christian? Refused to charge your rapist because “if it’s a legitimate rape, the body has ways to shut that thing down” because you’re a Christian? Paid you 70 percent less than your male colleagues doing the same job because you are a Christian? Refused to give you work place discrimination protection because you are a Christian? Segregated you on a reservation because you’re a Christian?
Sorry, American Christians. You are not persecuted because you’re a Christian. You’re not persecuted at all. The people dying because they are Christians in other countries have nothing in common with you. You are not them. There are no similarities between the two of you at all. Contrary to the American Thinker, you are safe. You’re safer than anyone else. Your right to treat people like shit because of your religious beliefs is intact.
As far as Zeus and I and gays and Muslims and women and black people are concerned, claims that American Christians are persecuted are beyond laughable. They are tragically unfunny.