Christians know that in this world they will suffer persecution and tribulation. Jesus promised this would happen to all true followers of his. But one of the more ominous warnings that Jesus gave was that this persecution would often be at the hands of other religious folk.
In John 16:2-4 for example Jesus said this: “They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God. They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me. I have told you this, so that when the time comes you will remember that I warned you.”
So we should not be surprised when those who may even claim to be Christians will also take part in this persecution of true followers of Jesus. And we have plenty of examples of this occurring today. For example, when two Christian pastors were charged with religious vilification in Victoria earlier this decade, some “Christians” actually sided with the Muslims against the pastors.
Another example of this comes from the US, where a federal hate crime law is being debated. As I have documented elsewhere, these bogus laws have nothing to do with justice, and everything to do with promoting the homosexual agenda and silencing Christians. They have nothing to do with protecting ordinary citizens but everything to do with pushing radical activist causes.
Bible-believing Christians who take seriously their faith and the biblical view of sexuality, marriage and family will be the first to be targeted by such nefarious laws. I have provided numerous examples of this elsewhere on this site. Yet incredibly some Christians are calling for the passage of these laws.
Here is how one website discusses this worrying development: “Prominent members of the Evangelical left have endorsed a bill before Congress that would add sexual orientation and gender identity as official categories to ‘hate crimes’ law. Liberal evangelist Tony Campolo, founder of the Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education, joined a Capitol Hill rally this week organized by the Human Rights Campaign, a homosexual advocacy group, which also distributed supportive statements by Christian ethicist David Gushee, Sojourners’ Jim Wallis and Florida megachurch pastor Joel Hunter. The rally additionally touted legislation that would protect transsexualism in the work place. ‘We Evangelicals who have such a high view of scripture should want justice for gays, lesbians and transgendered persons,’ said Campolo, ‘Justice is love translated into social policy … This [legislation] is a chance to practice that love’.”
Of course people like Campolo have long been pushing the homosexual agenda, wrongly assuming that there is some sort of biblical warrant to do so. So it should come as no surprise to see these people on the wrong side of this debate.
As Mark Tooley, President of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, remarked: “Why are self-proclaimed evangelicals echoing the secular culture by endorsing ideologies wrapped around ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘sexual identity’? Increasingly the Evangelical Left is indistinguishable from the secular Left. Christians of all traditions are called to transform the culture, not conform to it. But the Evangelical Left repeats arguments from The New York Times’ editorial page and seems to think such cultural conformity will win applause. History shows that accommodationist Christians are ultimately irrelevant Christians.”
Exactly right. The Bible clearly warns about conforming to the world and its ideology, but some leftist believers think it is their obligation to be spokespersons for the secular left’s radical agendas, no matter how unbiblical they might be. No wonder why we are so often losing the culture wars. With religious friends like this, who needs enemies?
Two other recent articles speak of the folly of hate crime laws. Jerry Kane notes, “The hate crime bill that passed the U.S. House of Representatives April 29 is an attempt by democratic socialists and progressives to silence dissent against alternative lifestyles. Their incessant iconoclastic attacks on once established values and morality have nearly eroded this nation’s spiritual and cultural legacy. Instituting same-sex marriage and prosecuting hate speech will complete the process and shatter the remaining hopes for cultural regeneration and tear down the last vestiges of the country’s Judeo-Christian ethic.
“In America’s brave new post-modern multiculture, homosexual and transgender people will become a federally-protected class under the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009, HR-1913. Under this act, anyone who publicly opposes the practice of homosexuality or any of the 30 other sexual orientations as designated by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) could be charged with expressing ‘hateful words’ and convicted of a ‘hate crime’.”
He continues: “Hate crimes legislation allows a country’s legal system to disregard any notion of equality under the law, and apply it unequally and selectively, which means that some citizens are harassed, prosecuted, and convicted, while others are not. In Canada and European countries, hate crime prosecutions of heterosexuals, non-Muslims, or non-Socialists exceed those of homosexuals, Muslims, and socialists.
“Hate crime laws are rarely enforced when slurs, insults, invectives, and ridicule are hurled at members in the majority group. For example, in May 2006, a Belgium man filed a complaint with the police against the Center for Equal Opportunities and Opposition to Racism because he was offended by the agency’s use of the words ‘Dirty Heterosexual’ in its postcard distribution campaign. The agency director said that stigmatizing or discriminating against majorities is ‘not real discrimination’ and dismissed the man’s objections with laughter saying, ‘Discrimination is something that by definition affects minorities.’
“Hate crime laws establish a preferential justice system and create a double standard in the legal system that fosters distrust, conflict, and intolerance in a society. Such laws suggest that members of a minority group deserve a higher level of justice than those of the majority, which makes members of the minority group more important and morally superior. In Austria, it’s not considered degrading to Christians if Jesus is portrayed in homosexual acts with his apostles, but it is degrading to Muslims if the historical fact that Muhammad married a six-year old girl is mentioned.”
There are numerous examples of Christians being persecuted directly because of these laws: “In Britain, a 69-year-old evangelical was prosecuted for displaying a protest sign with the words ‘Stop Immorality. Stop Homosexuality. Stop Lesbianism.’ Objecting to his peaceful protest, hecklers knocked him down, threw dirt on him, poured water over his head, and tried to take his placard. The police came and arrested the protester, but did nothing to those who assaulted him.
“The magistrates’ court ruled that the words on the placard could be harassing, alarming, and distressful for homosexuals who may find the words threatening, abusive, or insulting. Consequently, the evangelical protester was fined and ordered to pay court costs for displaying words that might offend the delicate sensibilities of a protected class member, but the criminal actions of the hecklers who assaulted him were disregarded and left unpunished.”
He concludes, “Hate crime laws violate the fundamental notion that man’s natural equality entitles him to impartial justice, which is the underlying principle of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. How ironic the counterculture left that chanted in the 1960s, ‘I may disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it,’ now fights to enslave all Americans to the will of a totalitarian bureaucracy.”
Steve Chapman also notes the dangers of hate crime legislation. He writes: “Congress never stops trying to ensure full employment for FBI agents and U.S. attorneys. The latest stimulus is the Matthew Shepard Act, billed as an overdue effort to prevent violence against gays and lesbians. The logic behind the proposed measure is hard to follow. Says sponsoring Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), ‘No members of society – none – deserve to be victims of a violent crime because of their race, their religion, their ethnic background, their disability, their gender, their gender identity, or their sexual orientation.’ Which raises the question: Who exactly does deserve to be the victim of a violent crime?
“The bill targets actions we would all like to eliminate – physically injuring or trying to injure someone with ‘fire, a firearm, a dangerous weapon, or an explosive or incendiary device.’ But it’s hard to imagine that it would reduce the prevalence of such conduct, which is already 1) really, really illegal and 2) subject to harsh penalties. This legislation would add extra punishment for attacks designated as hate crimes. But if a criminal is not deterred by the fear of five years behind bars, he’s probably not going to be pushed onto the straight and narrow by the prospect of six.”
As I have argued in other articles, rights talk is the major arena in which anti-Christian legislation is being passed. It all sounds good: shouldn’t we be in favour of human rights? But these laws are really about giving special rights to activist minority groups, and taking them away from the majority.
I began with a quote from Jesus, and will finish that way. He told his followers, “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves” (Matt. 10:16). We certainly need this wisdom when fellow believers end up supporting laws that will criminalise Christianity.