Sunday, October 21, 2007

The War on Christianity

In a recent conversation in blogtopia, a commenter assured me that there's no such thing as a war on Christianity in the U.S., and that such claims are nothing more than media-driven hysteria. Of course, how one uses the word "war" determines whether or not he's correct. If you mean American equivalents of Bergen-Belsen or Auschwitz popping up all over like sinister mushrooms, where Christians are fed feet-first into ovens, or lined up all in a pretty row by government agents and given a taste of the firing squad; or harsh prison sentences for heading underground churches; or serving as human torches for the president's amusement; or wrestling lions for popular entertainment, then he's right: there's no war on Christianity in the U.S.


But if we're speaking symbolically, in terms of an ideological conflict, there most certainly is a war on the Christian way of life. Acknowledging this is minimal observancy of reality; denial is nothing but ignorance or dishonesty.

We're given the impression that secularism is the neutral position, that the onus of explaining why Christianity should be allowed in the public square falls on the Christian's shoulders. Separation of church and state is treated as a sacrosanct ideal. We're told that prayer in schools and other silly religious (i.e., Christian) notions are prohibited by the Constitution. All of these are lies. There is no such thing as ideological neutrality; godlessness is as much a worldview as religiosity. Christian thought and deed is an American historical norm. Separation of church and state is endorsed nowhere in our founding documents, and even where it is found--such as in Thomas Jefferson's letter to the Danbury Baptists--its meaning is intentionally distorted. The Constitution specifically protects freedom of religion, rather than undermining it.

For those who doubt the existence of an ideological war on Christianity, ask yourself a few questions, and see if you can formulate a coherent answer: when students are told that they cannot bring Bibles to school, or read them during their free time after class, what does this represent? When the Boy Scouts cannot meet after school on campus (while other clubs and organizations suffer no such restriction), due to discrimination against homosexuals for religious reasons, what conclusion should we draw? When valedictorians are censored in their graduation speeches, or punished when they mention Jesus, does this exemplify freedom of religion, or freedom from religion? When school children cannot sing Silent Night--or are ordered to alter the lyrics before singing it--is this more of the phantom war on Christianity? When Nativity scenes are banned from public property, is this a coincidence, or just "following the law?" When displays of the Decalogue are removed from courthouses--some of which have stood in positions of honor in these buildings for decades--is this more delusion on the part of those who see a creeping death to religious freedom in this country? When crosses are torn off war memorials, or excised from roadsides in hopes of not blighting the landscape or offending the sensibilities of atheist motorists, is this an example of the tolerance of which we often hear?

These events are happening, and with greater frequency all the time. They aren't sensationalistic or false claims. They represent legitimate news stories that I've read--numerous times, in some cases. We're not talking "media-driven hysteria." Forty years ago, such stories never made it to the nightly news or the daily papers. Do you know why? Because they didn't exist, or were aberrations. If there is no ideological striving, no conflicting worldviews, why were these situations unheard of ten, twenty, thirty, and forty years ago? Why is it that a country founded primarily by and peopled with Christians is becoming increasingly hostile to open expressions of Christianity?

Remember that persecutions more often than not begin small and increase in severity over time. The Nazis didn't initiate their plans for Jews, Christians, and other undesirables with murder. They demonized beliefs, restricted their expression, and stifled their influence. The death camps and elaborate tortures came later.

I'm not scaremongering, here; I'm not suggesting that such horrors await Americans, in the near future. But the idea that we're not experiencing persecution unless we endure the same plight as Christians under Nero doesn't mean that our constitutionally-enshrined and God-given rights aren't under attack. That's an intellectually vacant position. It's akin to denying one's own reflection in a mirror, or like the child who believes the monster under his bed won't notice him, if he'll just keep the covers over his head.

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