Christian Charity, Mission and Compassion Reconsidered (5)

urban-public-ed-failure-reading-chart

This figure shows the utter failure of public education in large U.S. cities.  Note that the displayed percentages are of students who are not proficient in reading.

What Should be Done?

I certainly don’t expect Progressive individuals and organizations to embrace conservative ideas for welfare reform.  However, even this position doesn’t preclude the finding of common ground.  For example, the Progressive community could say something like this:

“While we believe that conservative ideas on welfare reform are fundamentally flawed, we yet agree that the current set of welfare policies has not achieved their intended results.  In fact, on numerous key measures of well-being the beneficiaries of welfare have significantly digressed over the past decades.  Therefore, we will support an open discussion on what has gone wrong and why.  From there we will support an open debate on the reforms necessary to correct past mistakes and increase the likelihood of future success.”

The tragic truth is that virtually no one finds this imagined statement by our Progressive elites to be in the slightest credible.  This is because their power rests on the false assumption of their intellectual and moral superiority. Thus they cannot survive if they ever admit to have been wrong.  Not surprisingly then, what we have observed is retreat into reactionary positions from which any criticism of the Welfare State or proposal for welfare/education reform is viciously attacked.  When “welfare reform” was passed in the 1990s the Progressive community pulled out all the stops to retard and ultimately reverse this initiative.  The Progressive community continues to be opposed to “school choice” even though a majority of disadvantaged parents support it.

In the 1960s and 70s Mainline denominational leadership tied itself to the secular Progressive movement as the vehicle for positive social change.  We can legitimately debate the wisdom of this decision within context of what was known at that time.  However, from the 1980s on it has become progressively more clear that the Great Society and associated policies have had the opposite effect of those claimed to be intended by their supporters.

We Mainline Christians must seriously ask ourselves what we really are accomplishing by our continuing support of these destructive social policies.  If we want an endless supply of people in poor and oppressed communities as recipients of our charity then by all means continue on.  In that direction lies the continued affirmation of a godless elite class who value us only to the extent that we slavishly uphold their power and follow their political line.  In that case Jesus’ words should burn in our souls.

1“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

2“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.”

Matthew 6:1, 2 (NIV)

If we want to actually improve the lives of the people trapped in these communities then we must open our hearts and minds to the concept of reforms that challenge the current Progressive orthodoxy.  In that direction lies suffering, as we will be subjected to the full force of hatred that holds current policies in place.  We will be called terrible names.  Our motives will be attacked.  Our Christian faith will be denigrated.  Everything will be done that can be to make the world consider us pariahs.  But if we reject their power to destroy we may actually through God’s grace find new paths that lead towards renewal and hope.

18“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. 22If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23Whoever hates me hates my Father also. 24If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’

26“But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. 27And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.

John 15:18-27 (ESV)

 

Yes,Openly Bloodyminded Progressives

Some of you who manage to read my posts to the end may have noticed a recent reference to approval of death threats to Senator Susan Collins after her Kavanaugh Supreme Court confirmation vote.

Progressives may disagree with Collins’ vote, but their descent into open justification of death threats afterwards shows how thin is the line between farce and wickedness.

kidman-guillotine

The original tweet and even more troubling “explanation” tweet.

You may also recall a series of posts discussing the “bloody-mindedness” of many Progressive elites.

Well, it turns out that a Democrat candidate for the Senate seat currently occupied by Susan Collins, Bre Kidman, has chosen the guillotine as her campaign symbol.  Candidate Kidman was quoted in explanation: “The guillotine is an image which calls to mind what people have done for revolution before” … “If we can find a better path to revolution than that we owe it to ourselves and our country.”  This begs the question of what happens if, in this Democrat’s mind, we can’t find a “better path?”  Her answer to this question is even more troubling than her original tweet (see figure).

It turns out that it isn’t only Democrat Senate candidates who are fondly thinking about the guillotine.  A paid Bernie Sanders campaign worker was caught on video discussing use of this device come the revolution.

Mr. Weissgerber added, “I’m telling you. Guillotine the rich.”

The Sanders campaign has refused to comment on this and another paid worker who envisions American gulags to reeducate Trump voters after a Sanders victory.  The kindest interpretation is that the Sanders campaign isn’t concerned about bloodthirsty rhetoric by its paid workers.

I suppose some could respond that this is just another right winger spreading propaganda.  If so, consider the recent comments by Chris Matthews, an elite Progressive in good standing about Sanders’ ideology.

“I have my own views of the word socialist and I’ll be glad to share them with you in private and they go back to the early 1950s,” he told a post-debate analysis panel.

“I have an attitude about them. I remember the Cold War. I have an attitude toward [Fidel] Castro,” he added. “I believe if Castro and the reds had won the Cold War there would have been executions in Central Park and I might have been one of the ones getting executed. And certain other people would be there cheering.”   …

“I don’t know who Bernie supports over these years, I don’t know what he means by socialism. One week it’s Denmark. We’re gonna be like Denmark,” Matthews continued, mocking Sanders’ deep Brooklyn accent. “Well, what does he think of Castro? That’s a great question. What did you think of Fidelissmo?”

It should deeply trouble Progressive Democrats that this bloody-minded rhetoric pervades their movement, including a candidate for the Senate.  But it doesn’t appear to in the slightest.  At some point we non-elite commoners are entitled to draw conclusions about the moral standing of our elite “betters.”

Screen Shot 2019-12-18 at 7.37.37 AM

The Silence of the Lambs (6)

Screen Shot 2019-05-06 at 7.58.47 AM

Image and caption of the BBC report quoted below.

A Timely and Tragic Confirmation

For anyone who suspected that I’ve been exaggerating or am being overly-dramatic about Christian persecution note that none other than the government of the United Kingdom has confirmed my position.  In fact, their commentary on this issue is significantly more extreme than has been mine thus far.  Here’t the BBC report titled: Christian persecution ‘at near genocide levels‘ (emphasis added):

The review, led by the Bishop of Truro the Right Reverend Philip Mounstephen, estimated that one in three people suffer from religious persecution.
Christians were the most persecuted religious group, it found.  Mr Hunt said he felt that “political correctness” had played a part in the issue not being confronted.

The interim report said the main impact of “genocidal acts against Christians is exodus” and that Christianity faced being “wiped out” from parts of the Middle East.
It warned the religion “is at risk of disappearing” in some parts of the world, pointing to figures which claimed Christians in Palestine represent less than 1.5% of the population, while in Iraq they had fallen from 1.5 million before 2003 to less than 120,000.
“Evidence shows not only the geographic spread of anti-Christian persecution, but also its increasing severity,” the Bishop wrote.

The report itself has this to say about Christian persecution in the Middle East.

Regional Focus: Middle East & North Africa (MENA)

The persecution of Christians is perhaps at its most virulent in the region of the birthplace of Christianity – the Middle East & North Africa (MENA for short). As mentioned earlier, forms of persecution ranging from routine discrimination in education, employment and social life up to genocidal attacks against Christian communities have led to a significant exodus of Christian believers from this region since the turn of the century.

Regional Focus: South Asia

To the east of the MENA region lie countries with a diversity of majority religions. In nearly all of these there is routine discrimination against Christians which has crossed over into outright persecution in recent years.

Numerous other regional areas are covered, each with its own unique set of religious, cultural and ideological issues that lead to varying levels of Christian persecution.

christian-persecution-1Note that this report also supports my contention that “political correctness” is a key reason that Christians in the West have abandoned their brothers and sisters in Christ to their fates.    Let’s be clear: if true this means that Christians in the West value their own social standing far higher than the actual lives of Christians throughout the world.  I believe that this is at least in part true, and that it is a shameful consequence of our purposeful ignorance and selfish need for social affirmation by a godless secular culture.

The Silence of the Lambs (4)

Religious Hatred Here and There

How can we place the following statistics on worldwide Christian persecution into perspective?

  • 3,066 killed;
  • 1,252 abducted;
  • 1,020 raped or sexually harassed;
  • 793 churches attacked or destroyed.

After all, aren’t we in the United States bombarded with media reports claiming that, particularly in the “Age of Trump,” our society is saturated with religious hatred that manifests itself in hate crimes?  Were that claim found to be true then we would have no moral right to point our finger at others.

Screen Shot 2019-04-04 at 6.03.10 AM

2017 FBI Hate Crime Data

It turns out that, so concerned is our federal government about the occurrence of hate crimes that the FBI has been directed to collect and publish data in this area.  The FBI publishes this data on an annual basis, the most recent year being 2017.  Thus it is easy to find and assess the level of hate crimes across many years and for many groups including religious, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, disability, etc.

The following figure shows the total number of murders, rapes and arsons identified as motivated by hate against Muslims in the United Stated between 2008 and 2017. Note that so unheard of is abduction motivated by hate that there is no category for this crime.

FBI-Hate-Muslims

The results are likely surprising to some readers.  Please keep in mind that these are results across our entire nation of 320 million inhabitants.  Some of my observations are:

  • The hate crime statistics against Muslims are identical between the year of Obama’s 2008 “hope and change” Presidential campaign and Trump’s 2016 “make America great again” campaign (i.e. 0 murders, 0 rapes and 5 arsons);
  • In the ten years covered not a single rape occurred against a Muslim due to hate in the entire United States;
  • In the ten years covered six murders occurred against a Muslim due to hate in the entire United States, which is well less than one per year on average;
  • In the first year of Trump’s Presidency there were zero murders, rapes and arsons against Muslims due to hate, a result that never occurred during Obama’s Presidency.

What can we conclude but that, in spite of massive Progressive propaganda to the contrary, the United States is an exceedingly tolerant country?  Yes, we are deluged with accusations of Islamophobia, but the actual hate crime data shows the opposite.  The reason for this falsehood’s persistence is that any criticism of the Muslim faith or of some Muslim individuals and organizations is attributed to Islamophobia.  In other words, the Progressives have placed Muslims outside the realm of criticism by designating any concern about their religion or behavior as a kind of mental illness.

And yet Progressives criticize, mock, condemn and yes, hate Christians on a massive scale without being accused of “Christaphobia.”  I must ask, from the Progressive multicultural perspective are only Western Civilization, Christianity and Judaism capable of sin?  Were we to examine the history of Islam, Hinduism, etc. would we find only sweetness and light in their past and present?  Are the past and present for all countries and ethnic groups outside of Western Civilization beyond reproach, beyond criticism?  The apparent Progressive multiculturalist answer is YES!

So, when we note that thousands of Christians are murdered, abducted and raped throughout the world because of their faith we in the United Stated do have moral standing to care and criticize.  For, if the religious tolerance that exists in the United States were replicated throughout the world the number of hate crimes against all people for all reasons would be massively reduced.

Yes, we are far from perfect.  Yes, we sin in a many ways.  Yes there are many and deep reasons to criticize our nation.  But for goodness sake, why can’t we acknowledge and celebrate that a level of tolerance has been achieved here that enables human flourishing at a remarkable level?

We can and must.  For to do otherwise is to become complicit in the Progressive multiculturalist lie that only the West, Christianity and Judaism are capable of sin.  All other religious, ethnic and country peoples are presumed to be either incapable of or justified in their sinful acts.  We Christians have doubly no excuse for supporting this lie.

as it is written:

“None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”

Romans 3:10-12 (ESV)

Am I saying that because Western Civilization is more tolerant then it must be more righteous than all others?  Not at all.  For the righteousness of which the Apostle Paul speaks is the perfect righteousness demanded by God.  As is well said by R.C. Sproul:

Good is a relative term. It is defined against some standard. If we establish what that standard is, we can congratulate ourselves and take comfort in our attainment of it. But if God establishes the standard, and His standard includes outward behavior (that our actions conform perfectly to His law) and internal motivation (that all our acts proceed from a heart that loves Him perfectly), then we quickly see that our pretended “goodness” is no goodness at all. We then understand what Augustine was getting at when he said that man’s best works are nothing more than “splendid vices.”

There are aspects of Western Civilization in which we are far worse than others, with abortion being a particularly shameful and stark example.  But there are other areas, such as religious tolerance, where we have achieved far better results.  We must not denigrate our successes because in other areas we have failed.

Thus we should in clear conscience and loud voice speak up for out brothers and sisters in Christ who are experiencing brutal persecution.  While so doing we must also look at ourselves and recognize that there is great sin at work in the West as well.  But it is inherently unjust and unsustainable to apply one standard to ourselves and another to anyone else.

The Silence of the Lambs (3)

Screen Shot 2019-04-04 at 5.13.25 AMThe Horrible, Heart-Breaking Details

Unless you read the details behind the (likely conservative) statistics on Christian persecution you can’t begin to appreciate the magnitude and depth of this situation.  Although they are on the whole ignored, there are organizations who pay attention, collect information and seek to educate the West about this issue.  One such group is the Gatestone Institute, who published a monthly report on worldwide Christian persecution.  These stories rarely appear in the mainstream media and are rarely discussed, let alone responded to, in the Western Christian Church.  Here is a tiny fraction from two monthly reports.

January 2019

The Slaughter of Christians

Central African Republic: A militant Islamic group raided a Catholic church compound and massacred dozens of Christians, including two priests, in the small town of Alindao, on November 15. According to the report, the group, which consists of “mainly Muslim and Fulani militia, stormed the cathedral and the nearby refugee camp hosting more than 26,000 people displaced following previous attacks in the town and its surrounding villages.” Pictures and testimonials “revealed the scale of the devastation as dozens of bodies littered the ground, mixed with the burned debris of tents … Some of the victims were burned beyond recognition, while others had been shot or dismembered with machetes. Bishop Juan Jose Aguirre Muños provided more details: “The men of Ali Darassa assaulted, looted and set fire to the displaced camp and killed women and children; they burned down the cathedral where they killed the two priests.” Immediately afterwards, the terrorists “allowed groups of young Muslims of the western part to enter the eastern part of Alindao and looted the bishop’s residence and burned the presbytery and the centre of Caritas.” The same Christian town suffered from a similar attack on May 8, 2017; then, between 130 and several hundred “Christian townspeople and villagers” were butchered. Due to these ongoing attacks, on November 16 the Central African Episcopal Conference issued a statement, saying that the Catholic Church “has become the target of armed groups in Central Africa.” In 2018, five Catholic priests were killed by the Muslim militants in various attacks.

February 2017

The Slaughter of Christians in Egypt

As in January, when five different Christians were killed in four separate hate crimes around the country, another murderous wave took non-Muslim minorities by storm, this time in al-Arish, Sinai. The murders may have resulted from a video released in February by the “Islamic State in Egypt.” In the video, masked militants promise more attacks on the “worshipers of the cross” — a reference to the Coptic Christians of Egypt, of whom they also refer to as their “favorite prey” and “infidels who are empowering the West against Muslim nations.” One of the militants, carrying an AK-47 assault rifle, added, “God gave orders to kill every infidel.”

Muslim Abduction, Rape, Murder and Mutilation of Christian Women

Pakistan: Hours after being dropped off at the Convent of Jesus and Mary school in Punjab by her brother, Tania Mariyam, a 12-year-old Christian girl, was found dead in a canal. Despite all the evidence to the contrary — including her clothes being ripped off and signs of drugging — police investigations concluded that she had committed suicide. After three weeks of pressure from Mariyam’s family and human rights groups, who insisted that the girl had been raped and murdered — as so many Christian girls (and boys) in Pakistan have been before her — police finally conceded that she had not killed herself. Even so, “the severe delays,” says the British Pakistani Christian Association, “mean that much of the evidence has been lost.”

“There was a disgusting police cover up,” the murdered girl’s father said, “and I fear that they have colluded with the murderer and know more than they are letting on. They do not care about Christians.”

How can it be that we in the Western Church are so unaware of this terrible persecution or are aware but so unwilling to provide help?  It’s not because the Bible teaches us to ignore the needs of our brothers and sisters in Christ.  Rather quite the opposite.

I do not need to write to you about helping those who belong to Christ.  I know you want to do it. (2 Corinthians 9:1, 2a)

God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. (Hebrews 6:10)

So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. (Galatians 6:10)

Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. (Acts 2:28)

The Silence of the Lambs (2)

christian-persecution-map

Open Doors estimates that North Korea is the worst persecutor of Christians in the world.  The next eight worst countries are all in the Middle East or Africa.

The Geography of Christian Persecution

There are approximately 2.3 billion Christians in the world today making it the largest religion (the Muslim faith is second at an estimated 1.8 billion adherents).  A recent Gatestone Institute article summarized the situation.

“215 million Christians experience high levels of persecution” around the world, according to Open Doors, a human rights organization. On its recently released World Watch List 2018, which ranks the world’s 50 worst nations wherein to be Christian, 3,066 Christians were killed, 1,252 abducted, and 1,020 raped or sexually harassed on account of their faith; and 793 churches were attacked or destroyed.

By this assessment almost 10% of the world’s Christians live in countries where persecution ranges from “High” to “Extreme.”  Of the nine countries identified as “Extreme,” eight are located in the Middle East or Africa.  The following figure shows the Open Doors map for the Middle East and North East Africa regions.  Names have been added for the eight “Extreme” persecution countries located in these regions.  North Korea was designated as the worst persecutor of Christians in the world.

middle-east-christian-persecution

Open Doors map detail: Middle East and North-Eastern Africa

All eight of these “Extreme” persecution countries are Muslim majority.  However, it should shock the Western Christian conscience that of these eight countries two (Afghanistan at #3 and Iraq at #7) have been occupied by NATO forces for all or most of this century.  Yes, I understand (and support) that NATO is not in these countries as  a colonizer.  However, it speaks volumes that in the two Muslim countries where Western countries have the greatest influence both ended up in the “Extreme” Christian persecution category.  Thus it appears that improving the lot of Christians and other minorities (and women, and children) either wasn’t a priority or the cultural power of persecution is so intractable that even an occupying power is helpless to improve the situation (or a combination of the two).

But the reader may complain that I’m unfairly singling out Muslim countries by focusing primarily on Christian persecution.  For example, aren’t we bombarded with news stories that claim massive increases in hate crimes against Muslims in the United States due to the election of Donald Trump to the Presidency?  Surely in the United States it is now at least as bad for Muslims as it is for Christians in Muslim majority countries.

The Silence of the Lambs (1)

christian-persecution-1

Muslim destruction of Joseph Colony, a Christian region, in Pakistan, 2013

Introduction

One of the primary failures of contemporary Western Christianity is its silence on persecution of Christian communities throughout the world.  This situation was recently highlighted during the absolutely legitimate outrage over the massacre of innocent Muslims as they worshiped at two Mosques in Christchurch New Zealand.  Without a doubt these vile acts of murderous terrorism must be powerfully denounced.  And they were.

However, contemporaneously to this terrible event was another that would seem to be of similar weight, that being the massacre of over one-hundred Christians in central Nigeria.

The mosque attacks were indeed a horrific affair and worthy of universal condemnation. Presidents, prime ministers, royalty, and religious leaders rushed to extend their condolences to victims and their families — as well they should — while decrying the hate that purportedly motivated the shootings.

Without exception, the mainstream media gave top billing to the shootings, with newspapers carrying the story on their front pages and television news channels leading off their broadcasts with the story.

The bizarre aspect of the coverage was not, in fact, the attention paid to a heinous crime committed in New Zealand, but the absolute silence surrounding the simultaneous massacre of scores of Christians by Muslim militants in Africa.

Bible-Microscope

Can only Christians and civilizations built on Christianity sin?

It appears that Western Christianity has become deeply uncomfortable with the idea of standing up for their brothers and sisters in Christ who live under persecution.  Simultaneously we have become obsessed by a sense of shame about the sins of our own civilization while minimizing or ignoring the sins of others.

In this series I will attempt to examine and discuss this strange blindness to evil acts perpetrated against Christians accompanied by our obsessive microscopic examination of our own failings, real or imagined.