The Coming Persecution

            Persecution is a word I have always been reluctant to use.  Even now, we do not experience persecution in America.  We have been faced with discrimination.  Do not get me wrong, discrimination is bad enough.  It is wrong.  And it harms those who experience it.  It disrupts faith.  It often comes with public embarrassment.  None of this adds up to persecution however.


            There are several shifts in the spiritual winds.  In Europe there have been changes in the past couple of decades.  In America these changes are coming even now.  They have begun with the war on terror.  The war on terror might be the most important fight in the physical realm we have ever experienced as a people.  We must, however, be careful that we do not—in the name of freedom from terror—give up our freedoms as Christians.


            In the 80s Europe began to experience fear of what they originally called “new religious movements.”  These movements were often from America.  Scientology was one of them.  In the wake of these movements European governments believed they had a right and an obligation to step in to protect their people from overzealous religious beliefs.  The interesting thing is that the zeal was defined by the government.


            Remember, these are socialist democracies and the people are not as prone to believe they have a right to disagree with their governments.  These governments have much more control over the people than Americans are used to.  So, when their governments began to move to “protect” the people from these religious groups there was not a lot of uproar.  After all, religion is okay as long as it does not affect your life.


            Out of this panic came the concept that what the Europeans refer to as “secte” are not just cults in the way we all define cults.  Out of this movement came the widespread belief that these “secte” were dangerous cults.  Because they were dangerous they deserved whatever they got from the government.  If they were banned from public life so be it. If they lost their tax exempt status or official recognition, so be it.  After all, the government’s real job is to protect the helpless from those who would prey on them.  Who preys on people more than religious people who are holding onto the superstitions of the past?  This is especially true in the age of science when the mysteries of the world have been solved.


            Quietly the entire Continent began to change how it viewed any religious group that was not part of the State Church system.  In some countries that was the Catholic Church, in others it was the Lutheran Church, in others it was the Anglican Church, and in others still it was the Eastern Orthodox Church.  The only thing that mattered was that if the religious group was not the State church, or Jewish, or Muslim, it should be treated with suspicion.


            This was reinforced in countries like France, Belgium, and Germany with Secte Reports.  These reports were not official acts of Parliaments, but they had the force of official acts with the public.  Newspapers published the lists.  In France over 170 organizations were on the list.  Of these, most were what we would consider cults.  Some of them would even be properly classified as dangerous cults.  Then, sprinkled in the list are a few groups that are considered mainstream Christian groups throughout the entire world.  At first glance it might be a simple mistake.  At closer look it is a clever plan.  They start with a list that includes groups few of us would argue to protect.  To that they add a couple of mainstream groups that are not part of the State system.  Then they sit and wait.


            In one instance in France the courts actually ruled that a Pentecostal church on the list was not a “secte” and restored their tax exempt status.  When the Parliament was given a copy of the court decision and asked to remove the Church from the list they replied that because it was not an official act of Parliament they could do nothing.  After all, what harm was a simple list?


            The Belgians added a couple of mainstream American mission organizations to their “Secte” List.  Youth With A Mission and Operation Mobilization are listed as dangerous cults in Belgium.  Additionally, they consider the Assemblies of God to be a dangerous cult.  Finally, the Belgians consider the Young Women’s Christian Association a dangerous cult.  Ironically, few Christians in America even think of the YWCA as a religious organization.  They are a great place to work out, swim, and play football (I’m sorry, soccer.)


            The German’s, true to their nature, kept their committee establishing what new religious movements were “secte” a secret.  After all, it might scare us if we knew there were so many dangerous cults in our midst.  Equally secret the Germans never released their list.  There were, nonetheless, rumors of groups that were listed that became public knowledge.  One such group was a Christian Church in Cologne, Germany.  This Church experienced true persecution.  They were harassed in the local and national press.  They were vilified on television.  Eventually, their tax exempt status was revoked.  The Senior Pastor’s wife suffered a fatal heart attack.  Church members children were mocked at school by friends—and by school officials.  After a five year battle the tax exempt status was restored.


            All of this occurred because of a secret commission and its “secret” report.  All of this passed unnoticed by the majority of Europeans.  After all, religion was for children and old people.  Enlightened, educated people did not need the crutch of religion to lead a fulfilled life.


            During this time fewer still in America paid attention.  We were having enough troubles of our own with Bible Clubs and prayer in public places.  Of course, this was the carefree days when we never thought we would have to face something like same-sex marriage.


            This first change in public opinion was necessary to bring Europe to the place where everything that follows can follow.  Without people putting their own discernment on the shelf and leaving the spiritual decision to government officials Europeans would never have been ready for the Post Christian sentiment to come forward.


            This movement was the continuation of a centuries long battle to eradicate religion from the public life of Europe.  Some might not be willing to go that far, but this is merely the next stage in the revolutions sparked by the Age of Enlightenment when man was determined to be the only truly intelligent being in the universe and therefore master of the universe.  The American Revolution was sparked by the Age of Enlightenment.


            Out of the “Secte” Reports came a French law known as the anti-cult law.  This law was designed to reinforce the idea that religion truly was the opiate of the people.  The old mores were passing.  The new world was full of promise and needed a new moral code to guide it.


            The French Anti-Cult Law is scary in its own right.  It is even scarier because it has lead to the same debate in Italy, Belgium, and believe it or not China.  The Chinese have even sent a delegation to Paris to learn how to enact such a law.  Imagine a communist government prohibiting religion and doing it under the excuse that they are merely following the lead of the Christian French.  The law was originally called the Law Against mental Manipulation.  The language regarding mental manipulation was taken out, but the same prejudice remained.  The prejudice that religion served no valid purpose in the public discourse and, therefore, should be restricted in public lead French law makers to criminalize evangelistic activities.  The law criminalizes an activity as simple as literature distribution if the person receiving the literature is a minor, a senior citizen, or a pregnant lady.  All these groups are considered easily influenced and therefore should not be given religious literature.


            Under the French law a person convicted on a second offense of distributing literature to children, the aged, or pregnant ladies can be imprisoned for up to five years and fined up to $75,000.  If the person is an elder or leader in a Church the entire Church property and finances can be confiscated by the Government.


            This is the persecution.  This is going on now in Europe.  If we do not think it could happen here, then let’s continue to ignore the growth of secularism.  Let’s continue to ignore the growth of politically correct speech.  Let’s continue to ignore the winds that are already blowing through America that say some topics are off limits in public because they are offensive.  Topics like, there is a hell, homosexuality is wrong, and there are moral absolutes and truths that transcend the will of man or man’s governments.


            If it can happen on the Continent where the Reformation was born and swept the world, it can happen here.


            To believe otherwise is arrogance, plain and simple.


3 Responses to “The Coming Persecution”

  1. 1 Jean Arndt 21 April 2008 at 5:34 pm

    Actually, the YWCA’s in the USA are not religious organizations. We have origins in the Christian faith but are not open to people of all faiths. In other countries, YWCA’s are, in many cases, stil strongly Christian organizations. All of those with which I am familiar, do wonderful work.

  2. 2 Edward Thomas 13 April 2009 at 3:52 pm

    Excellent piece – I speak as somebody in the UK where parents with an evangelical faith are being sued for boycotting gay sex education events for their young children. I will find out more about this, which is going on in a neighbouring county to Oxfordshire where I live.
    By the way, the past tense of ‘to lead’ is not ‘lead’ but ‘led’

  3. 3 Edward Thomas 13 April 2009 at 4:05 pm
    from the Times Online
    March 7, 2009
    Parents face prosecution over ‘gay’ education class protest
    Sara Dixon

    PARENTS who took their children out of school to prevent them being taught about lesbian, gay and transgender relationships are facing prosecution.

    Around 30 pupils from an east London primary school were absent from a week of special lessons to highlight non-heterosexual partnerships.

    To mark the event some students watched a special adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet retitled Romeo and Julian.

    Stories covered in the lessons at George Tomlinson School included a fairytale about a prince who turns down three princesses before falling in love with one of their brothers and the tale of Roy and Silo – two male penguins who fall in love.

    The protesting parents said the content was more appropriate for secondary school pupils and now they face possible court action.

    Some of the parents said they informed the Leytonstone school they were removing their children for the week.

    Pervez Latif, whose children Saleh, ten, and Abdur-Rahim, nine, attend the school, said both Christian and Muslim parents objected to the theme linked to Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender History Month.

    Mr Latif is quoted as saying: “I didn’t want my children to be learning about this.

    “I wrote a letter to the chairman of the governors explaining that I would be taking my children out of school and he wrote back saying that there was no other option.”

    He added parents were informed of the lessons by newsletter.

    Sarah Saeed, 40, also took her eight-year-old daughter out of school during the week. She claims she told the school she would remove her daughter if they went ahead with their plans.

    She is quoted as saying: “It is not an appropriate age for the children to be learning such matters.

    “She has a 100 per cent attendance record otherwise. This is the only time and this is the only choice I had.”

    Officials at Waltham Forest Council said there were unauthorised absences from George Tomlinson School when it covered topics relevant to lesbian, gay and transgender history.

    They said action had been taken against the protesting parents but are currently refusing to say how they plan to punish them.

    Mr Latif reportedly said his wife feared it could end with them having to defend their decision in court as their children are being treated as truants.

    To deal with truant pupils Waltham Forest Council can make parents can sign a contract, impose fines or bring them to court.

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Books Worth Reading

C.S. LEWIS--Mere Christianity; CLAIRE BERLINSKI--Menace in Europe: Why the Continent's Crisis is America's Crisis, Too; BRUCE BAWER--While Europe Slept: How Radical islam is Destroying the West from Within; DAVID LEVERING LEWIS--God's Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe, 570-1215; THOMAS SCHIRRMACHER--The Persecution of Christians Concerns Us All; PHILIP JENKINS--God's Continent: Christianity, Islam, and Europe's Religious Crisis

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