CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Christian Persecution on the Rise

May 24, 2009

It would be rather easy – and appropriate – for me to change the name of my website from CultureWatch to PersecutionWatch. To watch Western culture is increasingly to watch case after case of Christian persecution. On a daily basis Christians are being vilified, attacked, persecuted, and targeted by various forces, including secularist governments.

Indeed, as I have documented so often here, the persecution is coming more and more from the state, which seems to have decided that the biggest threat to its existence is biblical Christianity. Christians of course claim a higher loyalty to the only one true sovereign. Thus the state, which has delegated – and limited – authority from God, cannot claim or demand ultimate allegiance.

That is partly why all sorts of laws are being passed to effectively silence the Christian churches. All sorts of cheap excuses are brought up to render believers ineffective in proclaiming their faith. All manner of politically correct foolishness is sweeping the West, all with the intent of muting the Christian voice.

Consider this incredible case in San Diego, California. Here is how one report covers the story: “A San Diego pastor and his wife claim they were interrogated by a county official and warned they will face escalating fines if they continue to hold Bible studies in their home. The couple, whose names are being withheld until a demand letter can be filed on their behalf, told their attorney a county government employee knocked on their door on Good Friday, asking a litany of questions about their Tuesday night Bible studies, which are attended by approximately 15 people.

“‘Do you have a regular weekly meeting in your home? Do you sing? Do you say “amen”?’ the official reportedly asked. ‘Do you say, “Praise the Lord”?’ The pastor’s wife answered yes. She says she was then told, however, that she must stop holding ‘religious assemblies’ until she and her husband obtain a Major Use Permit from the county, a permit that often involves traffic and environmental studies, compliance with parking and sidewalk regulations and costs that top tens of thousands of dollars. And if they fail to pay for the MUP, the county official reportedly warned, the couple will be charged escalating fines beginning at $100, then $200, $500, $1000, ‘and then it will get ugly’.”

Imagine that! Now even home Bible studies are becoming illegal. What sort of madness is this? Clearly it is diabolically-inspired madness. We know that there is a very real spiritual power which wants to silence all of God’s people. And this spiritual battle is of course being fought out in our courts, our laws, our cultures and our social policies.

Dean Broyles of the Western Center for Law and Policy said, “I’ve been leading Bible studies in my home for 13 years in San Diego County, and I personally believe that home fellowship Bible studies are the past and future of the church. … If you look at China, the church grew from home Bible studies. I’m deeply concerned that if in the U.S. we are not able to meet in our homes and freely practice our religion, then we may be worse off than China.”

The law group issued a statement saying that it is “troubled by this draconian move to suppress home Bible studies. If the current trends in our nation continue, churches may be forced underground. If that happens, believers will once again be forced to meet in homes. If homes are already closed by the government to assembly and worship, where then will Christians meet?”

Good question indeed. With hate crime laws, anti-discrimination legislation, and all sorts of other nefarious laws, the free proclamation of the gospel is under threat already. Churches are especially being targeted here. And now the powers that be want to clamp down on Christian activities in the home as well.

Perhaps if these trends continue in the West, believers will be forced to meet in isolated forests and deserts, away from the ruling authorities and religious police, just as is happening in China and other nations where the church has been driven underground.

Not long ago Western Christians used to read about the horrible persecution of the church in Communist countries such as the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. We read about the great exploits and sufferings of Richard Wurmbrand (Tortured for Christ), Haralan Popov (Tortured for his Faith), Brother Andrew (God’s Smuggler) and others who ministered amidst great hardship and opposition in Communist lands.

I read these books with fascination and horror when I was a young believer in the 1970s. Little did I realise that within a few short decades some of these Communist nations would no longer be under the jackboot of atheistic Communism, but that the “free” West would quickly begin to take their place.

Sure, the US does not yet have its own Gulag, and Australia has not yet set up concentration camps for those troublesome Christians. But the way things are heading, it may not be all that far off. Increasingly it is becoming very risky indeed to publically proclaim your Christian faith in the secular post-Christian West.

Indeed, the West is not so much post-Christian any longer, but actually anti-Christian. And it is getting more so each passing day. And one sure sign that things have reached their logical outcome is when this website is no longer to be found. One day it may well be forcibly taken down by censorious authorities.

Of course the early church wrestled with all this as well. They proclaimed Jesus Christ as the one true royal master, not Caesar. A clash of royal domains was underway. As Tom Wright says about Paul while in prison: “The reason he was there was that what he had been doing and saying was seen as an offence to the people in power. He was announcing a royal message, a ‘gospel’ which clashed head on with the royal message on which the Roman Empire was built: the announcement of Caesar as Lord.”

We too proclaim a different king. This is the risen Lord who was betrayed and rejected by men. They hated him and they will hate us. There is no getting around this. In the light of all this, every one of us must start asking ourselves some very hard questions.

Are we willing to pay the price for following Christ publically and boldly? Are we committed to our Lord so fully, that we would be willing to lose our jobs, be heavily fined, or spend time in prison for the sake of Christ? Are we willing to give our very life away for the sake of the gospel?

But remember, it is always easier to say we will die for our Lord. It is much harder to actually live for our Lord right now. Will we walk with him along the road less travelled? Will we join him on the Via Dolorosa? Will we take up our cross and follow him as he has called us to do?

Very soon indeed these will not just be rhetorical questions.

www.worldnetdaily.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=98895

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25 Responses to Christian Persecution on the Rise

  • Your so right about needing to know where we stand. Your also right when you talk about being perscuted for ones beliefs.

    I am one that already has had my faith in God tested. One day you just have to draw a line in the sand. Letting the enemy know that you will be pushed no further.

    Your right the enemy can take your life, but they can’t take your soul ! God will deal with these people.

    God tells us to love our neighbors and our enemies so I do. The enemy may still hate my guts and they can still kill christens but they do it because they believe the lies of satan.

    God is love that is why people follow him. the enemy doesn’t love people they even kill each other.

    What ever happens God is still in charge.

    John Eschen

  • Thanks John

    Yes you are quite right when you say “God is still in charge”. We must always keep this in mind during these dark times.

    Sadly however some Christians will wrongly take that truth to mean that this is all inevitable, and that we must just fatalistically resign ourselves to this persecution. I think the proper view is to recognise that God is indeed working out his purposes, yet we are also to stand up for our Christian freedoms.

    Some things are worth fighting for and we should be involved in the many battles taking place around us. Yes the Bible predicts that persecution will take place, but that does not mean we should give up working to maintain the many freedoms we have, which mainly came as a result of the Judeo-Christian worldview in the first place.

    So let us rest in the knowledge that God is in control, but let us also do all that we can to take a stand for religious liberty. As William Booth once said, pray as if everything depended upon God, and work as if everything depended upon you.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Well your right too..we do need to voice our selves. If you knew me you would understand some christens have been marked for death already.

    I stand up and make my voice heard to anyone that will listen. I’m highly involved in christen liberties. I keep track of what our government is up to who is being appointed and for what office. This way you get a broader span on what laws are being passed and how it effects each person on this planet.

    It is not just our rights but the rights of every individual.

    Inspite of this dismal world we know that in the end, God wins ! Keep up your end of it I will do my part. Someday soon we can meet on the golden streets of Heaven.

    Your Friend In Christ

    John Eschen

  • An excellent blog. Thank you. We in Canada face similar situtations, which is why for our June edition of our monthly newsletter we actually featured religious freedom issues that are facing Canadians. I really appreciate your blog, having only discovered it a couple of weeks ago. Keep up the good work.
    Glenn Penner, Canada
    www.persecution.net

  • Are you sure the government is trying to silence christians in san diego ? I mean they might well be, but the explanation might be simpler. The govt is targeting a group it thinks it can freely push around in an effort to extort money from them. The Major Use Permit sounds a bit like that sort of thing.

    I might well be mistaken, but i’m willing to give the benifit of the doubt to govt idiocy and bureaucracy over malice in a case like this.

    Jason Rennie

  • I am shocked. Is not enshrined that every person has a right to peaceful practice of their religion? I dont know about California but this must be the way as there cannot be compulsion in religion or interference with anyone’s practice of one’s faith.
    Siti Khatijah

  • Thanks Jason

    You are far more generous than I am. But even if it is a money grab as opposed to malice as you say, the result is the same: Christians are being silenced. And do you really think the authorities there would dare to try this on a group of homosexuals who meet on a regular basis in a home, or a group of Muslims? Somehow I just don’t think so.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Thanks for the reply Bill,

    You are right it might be malice, but i’d be surprised if it was an attempt to deliberately silence Christians.

    You are definitely right that they would never try this stunt with a group that was politically connected or able to easily make a noise.

    Ironically this suggests some interesting thoughts to me. If making noise does make them back down, then it would seem it was an attempt for a tax grab from an unpopular group, but if it doens’t then surely the christians could insist that the law be applied equally to all, which would no doubt result in noise being made, and also make for some interesting bed fellows.

    Jason Rennie

  • Well yes I do think the authorities are capable of many things. If history has taught us anything we cannot depend on our government. Government has turned itself on all those who appose it.

    Your right if we do not make a stand now, it will only get worse. Your voice should be heard as mine should. You and I will keep going tell the very end. That is why God put us together on this planet.

    It’s evil against good now. You and I are here to keep the fight going. Tell God comes in the clouds of glory we are here. As long as you keep sending the word from your end and I do my part where I am. We can be the thorn in satans side together 🙂

    Have a very nice evening God bless.

    Your Friend In Christ

    John Eschen

  • Having read that article, it sounds like someone had some personal ambition to stop these two from holding Bible studies. This person is clearly out of his league with the law.
    Jane Petridge

  • I wrote in your columns months ago that the time will come in Australia, that those who wish to go to mass or any other church service, will have to go underground. The incredible thing about these anti-Christ politicians, is that they proclaim the opposite to what the intend to do; They enact anti-discrimination laws, which are discriminating, for example.
    Europeans, with their self inflicted abortion epedemics are killing off Christainity in their homelands, by not replacing themselves in the population. They have an average of about 1.5 children. The Muslim population in Europe is increasing with with anything like a dozen or more children in a family. It’s just a matter of doing your sums to project what a future Europe (or whatever name change it will have) will look like. Europeans have found the chickens won’t come home to roost. There will be no chickens left.
    Frank Bellet, Petrie Qld

  • I’ve been recently convicted of the fact that no matter what the social ills around us are, no matter what we do and say to try and help a situation, it is ONLY the Gospel which will change people and situations. And yes, it is the Gospel which is often being targeted. When people turn to Christ they change. So I’d like to appeal to all of us, rather than praying that situations will change, lets be bolder. Lets pray that God will convert ——. Find out the names of those most militant against Christianity, and pray they specifically would be converted. And pray for ourselves, not to simply wring our hands at how bad things are becoming, but to be willing to tell others about Christ no matter the consequences.
    Catharine Carpenter

  • Quite right Catharine.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Hi Bill,

    Does this law apply to Christian gatherings at homes or any regular gathering at a home?

    Ben green

  • I have just received a report from America that stated that the Pentagon acknowledged seizing and burning the privately owned Bibles of American soldiers serving in Afghanistan.
    The Bibles were printed in Pashto and Dari languages which helped Christian soldiers to learn the local language. The Chaplain at the Bagram Air Base in his sermon encouraged outreach and personal evangelism. A group of American atheists called that proselytizing. They obviously have no concept of the difference between the two. The 4 star Admiral Chair of the Joint Chiefs, Mike Mullen, appears to defend the destruction of the soldiers Bibles. It would seem that the Obama administration is now enforcing state atheism upon American troops.
    Madge Fahy

  • Thanks Ben

    That is a good question indeed. I do not know the specifics of the laws being appealed to in San Diego. As I asked in an earlier comment, do we “really think the authorities there would dare to try this on a group of homosexuals who meet on a regular basis in a home, or a group of Muslims?”

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Dear Bill,
    I didn’t realise God was in charge? Why then is the world in such a mess? Surely this is not Their doing? I though this mess was a result of our fallen lives after we were deceived by you know who! But, it will not always be this way. The end is near!
    Blessings in THEM,
    Lou d’Alpuget

  • Thanks Lou

    This is not the place to enter into the mega-debate about divine sovereignty and human responsibility. Suffice it to say that Scripture clearly affirms both truths. How the two are to be held together in tension is not always easy to achieve, but that is what we are called to do. I would give up the faith today if I did not believe that God is ultimately in control. But as I say, that is another debate for another time.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • The Church I attend each week is planning to run a Christian English Language Course in our church. Now way back in October 2008 everything looked good and positive that we thought that our plans would go ahead. We had all the ok’s by the Education department and with the shire council. Just last Sunday we heard that they are not happy with the idea. Then we were told that they are not happy in having a churches and schools in residential areas. I thoughts churches and schools are very suitable for families and we have families living in residential areas. Please pray for us.
    Anthea Loton

  • Why do we have to complain about this so called attack on the Christian faith? It would seem that a regular large gathering in a suburban house could be breaking public health and safety laws. Shouldn’t we as Christians be seen to lead by example by obeying these laws? A large gathering would be better suited to meeting in a Church or community hall.
    David Visser

  • Thanks David

    I am usually not at a loss for words, but your comment has left me speechless – and flabbergasted! Assuming you are being serious here, I actually can’t believe you said this. What exact “public health and safety laws” are being violated at a home Bible study David?

    Do you really think the authorities are cracking down on regular home bingo nights, Islamic meetings or homosexual planning sessions? With all due respect, just whose side are you on here?

    And the point is, as expressed in the article, churches are already coming under attack. Now with home meetings also being banned, where are believers supposed to go? Out to the caves, or the catacombs, as the earlier believers had to do? Really, with friends like you, who needs enemies?

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Just a note:
    Not only World Net Daily is now running with this story; the story also appears on this site as well:
    gatewaypundit.blogspot.com/
    There is also a vidclip included. It is possible that the Obama administration is covertly supporting this crackdown. If so, it heralds that Christian are in for a rough time under his regime.
    Murray Adamthwaite

  • Bill, I doubt that your blog will be shut down by the authorities.

    Rather, it will be shut down by your service provider in fear of the authorities penalising him for allowing a hate site, or some other imagined reason. And the authorities can deny they had anything to do with it.

    Philip Rayment

  • Latest on the San Diego story:

    www3.signonsandiego.com/stories/2009/may/30/1n30bible00100-county-wont-force-permit-bible-stud/

    It seems the authorities backed down – so they should.

    Mark Rabich

  • Thanks for the update Mark.

    The vital point here is that the back down only occurred after believers raised their voices. This shows the importance of standing up and being counted when the Christian faith is under threat.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

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