Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The New Persecution

Last year, I wrote that a persecution is coming for American Catholics. Others wiser than I have made similar predictions. But the coming American persecution will not take the form of persecutions in previous eras and far-off lands. As a society, America has moved beyond wholesale execution (well, at least wholesale execution of the born). There will not be heaps of corpses left in the streets or arenas full of lions waiting to devour Christians. American Christians will not face wholesale red martyrdom.
White martyrdom is the future of the faithful American Christian. The new persecution will consist of relentless character assassination directed against those Christians who dare to uphold the teachings of the Faith, especially those teachings that conflict with the new morality of modernity (where reproductive freedom trumps all other rights).
This persecution will be severe enough to ruin reputations and careers. The continued media obsession with Catholic clerical sex abuse scandals that happened in the last century (and their utter unwillingness to discuss the epidemic of sex abuse of minors in America) is but a foretaste of the onslaught that will be leveled against faithful Catholics. The Church will be perpetually accused of aiding and abetting crime, scandal, and division. Christian morality will be attacked and blamed for every evil of modernity by a hostile press, no matter how fanciful or contrived the evidence. Christians will be forced to acquiesce in behavior they consider to be immoral (this is already occurring on a small scale), or face crippling fines or government sanction. Christian owners and administrators of charities and businesses will be shut down for failing to comply with the new morality.
Those who fight against the new morality will not face death; they will be branded as bigots and troglodytes and treated with utter contempt and hostility by the elites. Christians will serve as the scapegoats of the state, perpetually defeated but always treated as dangerous threats to the forces of progress. Like Snowball in Animal Farm or Goldstein in 1984, Christians will serve as omnipresent bogeymen, politically and culturally impotent yet somehow responsible for every societal ill afflicting America. Only at the end of this persecution (and most likely not even then), when the failure of the new morality is clearly evident, will government turn its sword against Christians.
But this will not happen for at least a generation, and it will be brief when it occurs. For as they did during all other persecutions, the forces of darkness will overreach, until they collapse under the weight of their own sin. Modern America will eventually follow the lead of other nations and blithely commit demographic suicide. Any society which embraces a culture of death is in the long run unsustainable.
The response of Christians to persecution must be the same as their predecessors' answer: unwavering fidelity to the truths of the Faith, trust in Christ's promise that His Church will not fail, and burning charity to friend and foe alike. Unwavering emphasis on the truth is the only real antidote to lies, constancy the eternal answer to despair, and charity the effective response to hatred.

10 comments:

  1. Musing about the future is one thing, but surely you don't think Christians are as persecuted as atheists in present day America.

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    1. It depends on what is meant by persecution. Persecution can be defined (shamelessly using Wikipedia here) as the "systematic mistreatment of an individual or group by another group." I am guessing that by "persecution," you are referring to things like "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance or "in God we trust" on our coinage. This official recognition of God can be contrasted with the current push to ban religious influence from the public sphere, as outlined by the links in my discrimination post.
      I'd say it's a tossup as to whether orthodox Christians who actually practice the tenets of their faith (as contrasted to secular Christians who hold to faith as a sort of cultural construct) or atheists are more "persecuted" at this current moment, but the tide is definitely swinging against orthodox Christians. As regarding symbolic gestures (like statues and coinage), atheists might be said to be persecuted; as regarding more practical measures (adoption, providing services to certain groups), orthodox Christians face a level of persecution.
      In a way, this fits in with my earlier point about discrimination. Some group is always going to feel discriminated against, and a society is always going to persecute some group - it just decides the target, the method, and the intensity of the persecution. Society may be able to minimize persecution, but it can never eliminate it.
      BTW, my post ranking philosophical systems should be up by tomorrow. I haven't forgotten.

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    2. We just came out of an election year where one of the more accepted-as-kooky Christian sects. Mormons, had a candidate that almost won! What chance would an open atheist have had running on the Repulican ticket? None. Zero. Come 2016, there isn’t a political advisor in the country, Democrats included, that would recommend coming out as atheist prior to election. Christianity is almost a perquisite for competing in the popular vote, what better measure of persecution is there? Their was going to be a Catholic VP regardless of who won. Just saying, you guys don't have it that bad.

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    3. An openly atheist candidate would certainly be handicapped for his non-religion, much like Rick Santorum was handicapped for his enthusiastic embrace of his religion. If there were any chance that Americans felt that Romney or Obama actually held their faith in more regard than their political views, they would have been handicapped as well. Hence why Romney and Obama made every effort NOT to talk about religion whenever possible. An atheist who didn't talk about his religious beliefs would be just fine, from a political standpoint. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2011/10/01/28-members-of-congress-dont-believe-in-god/
      What this goes to prove is that Americans, in the mass, do not want politicians who wholeheartedly embrace the faith they supposedly hold. Americans want politicians who treat religion like a favorite color - a belief to be clung to whenever convenient and ignored when inconvenient.
      As a somewhat cynical aside, calling Joe Biden (who publicly rejects the teachings of the Catholic Church) a Catholic is like calling a man an atheist who publicly announces his belief in God.

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    4. The only factor that makes one an atheist is not believing in God, there is a large collection of beliefs tied to Catholicism. If Biden doesn't hold to every Church position, I don't think that makes him un-Catholic. I know a couple active priests that don't hold to every Church position.

      Calling Biden not a true Catholic because he trends pro-choice seems like the "no true Scottsman fallacy" to me.

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    5. The problem with this argument is that willful rejection of one of the teachings of the Catholic Faith necessitates rejection of all of those truths, since Catholic teachings are necessarily dependent upon one another. Teachings on abortion are logical progressions of the teachings of the Church on sexuality, which stem from the teachings of the Church on the human person, which... but you get the point. I apologize for foisting more of my material upon you, but I go into greater detail on this point in another post.
      http://catholicgraymatters.blogspot.com/2011/09/catholic-teaching-all-or-nothing.html

      This understanding of the truths of Catholicism as an interlocking, unified whole, of course, necessitates a view of Catholicism that is very much different than how many (perhaps even most) people today view religion. Most people in America hold to a post-Enlightenment view of religion, where faith is like a favorite color - a nice set of beliefs that can be accepted or rejected at will, piecemeal.

      Regarding "No true Scotsman:" I am not arguing that there is "no true Catholicism," so to speak; I am arguing that deliberate rejection of teachings held by the Catholic Faith since its inception constitutes rejection of the Catholic Faith.(Of course, to avoid the charge of "No true Scotsman," I also should define my terms better in the beginning!)

      Also: It took a while, but I finally got my piece explaining my ranking of the 5 philosophical systems up. I hope it proves thought-provoking.
      http://catholicgraymatters.blogspot.com/2013/04/ranking-philosophical-systems-of-major.html

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    6. If this is true, I hope you agree that your church should pay taxes.

      If being a Catholic requires a pro-life stance which is consistently aligned with the Republican Party, it can be said that the Church always endorses Republicans which goes against the stipulation for non-endorsement tied to their tax exempt status.

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    7. There are multiple problems with your argument.

      1) First of all, the Catholic Church certainly does not march in lockstep with the Republican party on every issue. For example, here is the Church's position on immigration reform, which is clearly in opposition to the Republican party platform.
      http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/immigration/churchteachingonimmigrationreform.cfm
      Which reminds me - I need to write up my own immigration reform post within a week or so, btw. But the point is, there are many issues; the Church ignores party politics in choosing which issues to support.
      The Church may, of course, consider certain issues more important than others; hence the special emphasis She gives to certain issues over others.

      2) Regarding pro-life issues, Pro-life Democrats and pro-choice Republicans most certainly do exist (especially on the state level). If the Church could campaign for particular candidates (which she does NOT, see point 3), She would not do so on the basis of an R or a D next to a candidate's name; She would look at the candidate's stance on issues and endorse accordingly.

      Democrats for Life
      http://www.democratsforlife.org/

      GOP Majority for Choice
      http://www.gopchoice.org/

      3) The Catholic Church is classified as a tax-exempt charity, under section 501(c)(3) of the code of the IRS. So, for that matter, are far more politically active organizations such as Media Matters (liberal advocacy group) and the Media Research Center (conservative advocacy group).

      Media Research Center - conservative media watchdog group
      http://archive.mrc.org/contactMRC/contactMRCwelcome.asp
      Media Matters - liberal media watchdog group
      http://mediamatters.org/about
      Freedom From Religion Foundation - atheist advocacy group
      http://ffrf.org/about/getting-acquainted/

      Entities operating under the 501(c)(3) code cannot and do not endorse particular candidates. For the Church to say: SUPPORT THIS CANDIDATE! is clearly unacceptable.
      http://www.irs.gov/Charities-&-Non-Profits/Charitable-Organizations/Exemption-Requirements-Section-501%28c%29%283%29-Organizations

      They can, however, lobby for particular policies, provided they do so in a non-partisan manner.
      "Certain activities or expenditures may not be prohibited depending on the facts and circumstances. For example, certain voter education activities (including presenting public forums and publishing voter education guides) conducted in a non-partisan manner do not constitute prohibited political campaign activity. In addition, other activities intended to encourage people to participate in the electoral process, such as voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives, would not be prohibited political campaign activity if conducted in a non-partisan manner."
      http://www.irs.gov/Charities-&-Non-Profits/Charitable-Organizations/The-Restriction-of-Political-Campaign-Intervention-by-Section-501%28c%29%283%29-Tax-Exempt-Organizations
      http://www.asaecenter.org/Resources/whitepaperdetail.cfm?ItemNumber=12202

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