Rick Warren, Religious Persecution and God’s Love Reviewed by Momizat on . There is a growing anxiety among American Christians that they are being persecuted. There is a website called Christian Persecution in America that claims on i There is a growing anxiety among American Christians that they are being persecuted. There is a website called Christian Persecution in America that claims on i Rating: 0
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Rick Warren, Religious Persecution and God’s Love

Do Christians face persecution from without or within the faith?There is a growing anxiety among American Christians that they are being persecuted.

There is a website called Christian Persecution in America that claims on its homepage, “Religious persecution in the U.S. does occur and it should not be tolerated just like violence and religious persecution shouldn’t be tolerated anywhere in the world.”

Yes, “Christian Persecution in America” might be a small media outlet by a fringe group, but let’s not forget the same concern is voiced in mainstream media when Fox News airs their annual reminders of America’s “War on Christmas.”

Protestants and Catholics alike voice fears about persecution in America. Charles Chaput, the Archbishop of Philadelphia recently said this: “Catholics need to wake up from the illusion that the America we now live in – not the America of our nostalgia or imagination or best ideals, but the real America we live in here and now – is somehow friendly to our faith. What we’re watching emerge in this country is a new kind of paganism, an atheism with air-conditioning and digital TV. And it is neither tolerant nor morally neutral.”

I understand the fears. I really do, but there is a great danger in this victim mentality. I agree that religious persecution should not be tolerated, but here’s the thing: when we use the word “persecution” to describe whatever goes on in the United States, we make a mockery of the real persecution Christians suffer throughout the world. There is a huge difference between not being able to put up a Christmas tree in a department store, or the discomfort of potentially having minority status in an increasingly secular society, and Christians being killed for their beliefs. Even more important, when we claim that we are victims, we deny our own responsibility in victimizing others throughout the world. Various reports claim that our “War on Terror” has killed more than 100,000 civilians in Iraq alone through drones and traditional warfare.

And we’re the ones being persecuted?

What I hear from fearful American Christians about our “imminent persecution” is that we must fight back! We must retaliate against the pagan secularist threat!

I smell a scapegoat.

The greatest threat to American Christianity is not the persecution that comes from a pagan or atheist other. Blaming them distracts us from the real threat we face. The real threat to American Christians is the persecution we inflict upon each another.

Persecution via social media: Rick Warren responds to public criticism in the face of a personal tragedy.

Which leads me to mega-church pastor Rick Warren. Tragically, last Saturday Warren’s youngest son, Matthew, committed suicide. What hell could be worse to go through for a parent? Rick Warren told us what’s worse in a recent tweet: when your fellow Christians attack you with words of hatred and persecution.

On his blog Beyond Evangelical, Frank Viola created a sampling of the online persecution levied against the grieving Rick Warren in his article “Rick Warren’s Horrific Tragedy & the Sickening Response of Some ‘Christians‘”:

Train up your children in the way, live a godly example with right priorities, care enough to home-school despite the great sacrifice involved, don’t let them date unchaperoned, have daily family devotions, turn off the 1-eyed idiot, TRULY HAVE A PURPOSE-DRIVEN LIFE, and your children WILL NOT COMMIT SUICIDE, nor will they be involved in homosexuality, nor fornication.

He killed himself, it’s much worse than fornication or homosexuality or Onanism or eating pork. He denied himself a chance to get better. If your kids need a chaperone to date, why do you let them date? They shouldn’t be dating if they are not mature enough to control themselves.

Suicide happens soon after your [sic] stupid enough to read “The Purpose Driven Life”.

Poor Matthew denies God’s Love with suicide.

He could not save his own because Mr. Warren does not truly understand how his own heart works, how it is broken and the mechanism by which Jesus laid out the example of how to fix it. Matthew killed himself because he did not understand either. He was a victim of his own ignorance and the ignorance of his family, friends, society and Christians around him — presently!

Christians in the US don’t need anyone else to persecute us. We’re very good at persecuting ourselves, thank you very much.

I don’t feel like applying a mimetic analysis to any part of this situation. Let’s pray for the Warren family, and for all families who suffer through similar situations. There is a wisdom in silence, but if we must speak words in situations like these, I can think of no better words than what Paul wrote about God’s love in Romans 8:38-39:

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Paul’s vision is that nothing can separate Matthew Warren from the love of God. Nothing can separate Rick Warren from the Love of God. Nothing can separate Fox News from the love of God. Nothing can separate American Christians who fear persecution from the love of God. Nothing can separate Iraqis and Afghanis from the love of God. Nothing can separate you from the love of God. And nothing, according to Paul, nothing can separate the world from the love of God.

That’s the kind of radical love God invites us to share with the world, even with a world that we think persecutes us.

Comments (7)

  • Samuel Mahaffy

    Yes, we are called to love by a God who shared love indiscrimanently and freely with a broken world. Our love should be indiscriminate as well. “As my Father sent me, so send I you.” We are called to carry this presence in to the world–the presence that heals the sick and brokenhearted, weeps with those who weep, and laughs with those who laugh.

    Reply
  • Emily Riemer

    Rick Warren is such a public, even controversial, figure that when a personal tragedy afflicts him, the public loves to commandeer it to question not our faith or spiritual path, but his. Certainly, being a public figure means that even private battles do not remain private, but the online comments of shadow critics on message boards should not be able to hold sway over Rick Warren. Whatever you may think of him, it is decidedly un-Christian to use Warren’s personal tragedy as leverage to make a political or sociocultural point. Prayers for him and all Americans, Christian or not, who are suffering through personal battles. May their faith in love, hope and, for many, a higher power, remain strong. Thank you for your post, Adam.

    Reply
    • Adam Ericksen

      Emily – your point that “being a public figure means that even private battles do not remain private” is so important. The additional pain that Christians inflict upon one another is, as you say, decidedly un-Christian. It’s hard – and painful – to even imagine.

      Reply
  • Justin Zalesny

    Adam – Good article, keep up the good work. I don’t think you did it on purpose (I know you didn’t) but I think that if someone didn’t click the link to Frank Viola’s blog and then read it, they might get the impression that he said those awful things. I read that blog of his and his thinking seems to be more on par with yours on this subject and It’d be unfortunate if someone missed the point all together and got the wrong idea about Frank. Both you and Frank and your generous blogging have benefited me greatly so… thanks and again – keep up the good work.

    Reply
    • Adam Ericksen

      Thanks for that catch, Justin! You are absolutely right. I changed that section to make it more clear. I’m a big fan of Frank’s work and don’t want to give the wrong impression! Thanks for your kind words, too.

      Peace,
      Adam

      Reply

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