‘But wasn’t the persecution of Christians predicted in the Bible?’

Aug. 26, 2013Bishop-General Macarius, sixth from left, a Coptic Orthodox leader, prays with residents at burnt and damaged Evangelical Church … Continued


Aug. 26, 2013Bishop-General Macarius, sixth from left, a Coptic Orthodox leader, prays with residents at burnt and damaged Evangelical Church in Minya governorate, about 152 miles south of Cairo. Egypt’s Coptic Christians, who make up 10 percent of its 85 million people, have coexisted with the majority Sunni Muslims for centuries. Violence erupted periodically, especially in the impoverished south, but the recent attacks on churches and Christian properties have been the worst in years.Louafi Larbi / Reuters

When the history of the Christian church of the late 20th and early 21st centuries is written, at least one volume will no doubt be devoted to the persecution of the ancient Christian communities of the Middle East.

For the moment, however, their plight receives too little media attention, leaving many American Christians ignorant of, and thus unmoved by, the suffering of their fellow believers in the places that saw the birth of their faith more than two-thousand years ago.

This ignorance has many causes. Much of the media is preoccupied with how the momentous events of the Middle East affect American politics. And President Obama seems to believe that any acknowledgement of Christian persecution would hinder his efforts to launch, as he put it in Cairo four years ago, “a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world.” While recently noting the burning of Christian churches, during most of his time in office he has been loudly silent on the suffering taking place.

It doesn’t surprise me that the plight of Christians is being played down in the media and almost ignored by the president. But what does surprise me—what breaks my heart—is the relative silence of too many Christian pastors.

In Egypt, deadly fighting between the Egyptian military and Islamists has left Egypt’s 10 million Christians caught in the crossfire. In the weeks since the military coup, Muslim Brotherhood members and their sympathizers have damaged or destroyed as many as 100 Christian churches and monasteries as well as untold numbers of Christian businesses, schools and homes.

In one incident, a Christian school in the Cairo suburbs was attacked. A cross was ripped from the gate surrounding the church, the classrooms were set ablaze and the nuns who taught there were paraded through the streets like prisoners of war.

Analyst Andrew Doran, a former State Department employee, has compared the targeting of Egypt’s Christians to Kristallnacht in Germany in 1938, when the Nazis systematically vandalized Jewish synagogues, homes and businesses and murdered many Jews.

While Egypt is the most glaring example, Christians face brutal oppression across the Middle East and beyond.

The Christian communities of most Middle East countries are a fraction of what they once were. According to religious freedom expert Nina Shea, 100 years ago Christians accounted for roughly 30 percent of the population of the Middle East. Now they make up less than three percent. Much of the decline has occurred in the last 20 years.

Lord Sacks, the outgoing Chief Rabbi of Britain, recently called the situation for Middle East Christians “the religious equivalent to ethnic cleansing [that’s] going almost unremarked.” Similar language has been used by other world leaders, from former French President Nicolas Sarkozy to former Lebanese president Amine Gemayel.

The oppression is not limited to the Middle East. According to a 2011 Pew Forum study, Christians are persecuted in 130 countries, more than any other religion.

This reality prompted German Chancellor Angela Merkel to label Christianity “the most persecuted religion in the world.”

The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg has expressed shock that American Christians aren’t regularly protesting outside embassies to attract attention and demand a response.

They aren’t protesting primarily because they aren’t being told about the plight of their brothers and sisters in Christ — let alone admonished to act.

In 2011 a Pew Research survey, 84 percent of the evangelical leaders surveyed said that leaders should express their views on political matters, and 56 percent said that to be a good Christian it is essential to take a public stand on social and political issues when they conflict with moral and biblical principles.

Yet many pastors remain mum on the issue that should animate them the most. According to a 2011 survey conducted by Barna Research Associates, 52 percent of pastors had no plans to talk about the persecution of Christians abroad. From my own experiences speaking with fellow evangelicals, the silence from the pulpit continues today, even as attacks against Christians have escalated.

Why the silence? Many pastors claim that their congregations don’t want to hear such depressing news. But the Barna poll also found that nearly three in four American Christians want to be informed about the persecuted church.

When I’ve raised this issue with pastors over the years, many have said, “Well, Gary, this is what the Lord promised us would happen.” They remind me that, as Paul wrote in his second epistle to Timothy, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”

Jesus does tell us that those who follow him will be aggrieved. But it is a theological fallacy to conclude that believers are to be silent in the face of such suffering. The Christian faith also teaches that evil will quicken as we approach the end of history. That fact does not pardon us from our obligation to fight that evil.

Detachment can be a virtue, but it call also be a sin. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Lutheran pastor who resisted the Nazis and died in a concentration camp, once wrote, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil; God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”

Those words are as true for pastors as they are for presidents.
Former presidential candidate Gary Bauer is president of American Values and chairman of the Campaign for Working Families.

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  • leibowde84

    It is so pathetic that people in the Middle East allow religion to be such a dividing force. There is such a misunderstanding about history there that it breeds intolerance and hate. For example, Islamists claim that Israel is a crusader state, but, anyone who understands the history behind Israel, knows that is a complete falsehood. Jews occupied “the Holy Land” before Islam even existed. Further, no religion should ever be able to ask that they be isolated in that no other religions can occupy a territory. It is straight up evil to ask for that, which is why theocracies are so dangerous, and why Morsi had to go. I will take a secular dictatorship over a theocratic “democracy” any day.

  • WmarkW

    You know, I don’t recall the Zionophiles of the Christian Right being very forthcoming about the fact that 20% of the Palestinians are Christians. Or that Iraqi Christians were fleeing country after Bush ousted Saddam.

    Concern for human rights doesn’t play well when implemented partisanly.

  • gdalfonzo

    You mean, like you just did there?

  • jdpetric

    “When I’ve raised this issue with pastors over the years, many have said, “Well, Gary, this is what the Lord promised us would happen.” They remind me that, as Paul wrote in his second epistle to Timothy, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”

    The problem with the above statement is that mainstream Christendom has failed to live with Godly devotion since becoming a state religion and twisting doctrine to justify killing their fellow man and in some cases your non-Christian fellow man. . And because of the glaring fact, Christendom has incurred the wrath of non-Christian religions. Like reaping what you sow.

  • jdpetric

    So which history do you speak of, Biblical or secular ?

  • leibowde84

    Also, those words were written by Paul, not Jesus or God, or ANYONE WHO MET JESUS FACE TO FACE EVEN!!! Paul merely claimed to have seen a vision of Jesus on the road to Damascus. And accounts of this incident vary dramatically. I would say that he might have seen the good in Jesus, but he definitely added his own stuff in there.

  • jdpetric

    Correct, Paul never met Jesus “face to face”.

    Having said that, Christ Jesus revealed himself to Paul in a flashing light and commissioned him to be an attendant and a witness of the things he had seen and would yet see.
    “… but he definitely added his own stuff in there.”
    Incorrect, Paul was led by Holy Spirit and as a result spoke in agreement with the teaching and principles set forth by the Christ. Verified by the fact that it was because of God’s Holy Spirit that Apostle Paul was able to preform the many miracles he did.

    Further, Jesus prayed when praying to his God and his Father prayed at John 17:14, 17, “I have given your word to them, but the world has hated them, because they are no part of the world, just as I am no part of the world…. Sanctify them by means of the truth; your word is truth.”

    Lastly, speaking in agreement with Christ teaching was a point of concern with Paul, “Now I exhort you, brothers, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that you should all speak in agreement, and that there should not be divisions among you, but that you may be fitly united in the same mind and in the same line of thought. 1Corinthians 1:10

  • Cynthia J Rupp Luciene

    Thank you for setting it straight, that Paul “was led by the Holy Spirit” and “spoke in agreement with the teaching and principles set forth by the Christ”… as were all of the authors of the Bible. Thank you for your well educated and accurate response to a comment that would otherwise possibly lead others who don’t know any better astray from the truth.

  • Cynthia J Rupp Luciene

    This is an excellent post that ought to be given much attention but unfortunately not enough Americans – and others in the world – will ever have the chance to read it and be informed. I’ve been wondering why the American people aren’t storming the White House, demanding Obama to step down, much like our brothers and sisters the Egyptians did to take back their own country. (It’s Time Americans Follow Their Example and Walk like the Egyptians) I realize now, thanks to your post and those of Patriots like Col. Allen West, that the majority of Americans are simply uninformed. I am sorry I don’t have the ability to share this post with the world and make sure that every single person read it and understand it, but I will share it any way I possibly can to get it to as many people as I can. I have become friends with several very lovely Egyptians who have been trying to get the word out about Obama and what his recklessness is causing. I know they are going to appreciate this post as much as I do and they will spread it among their people in Egypt. Thank you again, it is good to know Americans like you are not afraid to speak the truth. I only wish Americans would listen, believe, and take action when they hear the truth.

  • nkri401

    “… a flashing light …”??

    Is that all Christ “God” Jesus could do??

  • jarandeh

    ^^^^^^^ The sheer craziness of this post is glorious!

  • jarandeh

    “I will take a secular dictatorship over a theocratic “democracy” any day.”

    How about neither?

  • jdpetric

    “Is that all Christ “God” Jesus could do??”

    “To be sure, Jesus performed many other signs also before the disciples, which are not written down in this scroll. But these have been written down that YOU may believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God, and that, because of believing, YOU may have life by means of his name.” John 20:30-31

    If you really wish to know, I would recommend that you read a portion of the Gospels each day. The miracles Jesus performed while on earth is a fore gleam of the benefits and provision of God’s Kingdom for mankind.

    Christ, as King of his God’s Kingdom of the Heavens will rule over the earth in righteous and with justice beyond human endeavors, abilities, and various forms of governess.

    “ For there has been a child born to us, there has been a son given to us; and the princely rule will come to be upon his shoulder. And his name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.  To the abundance of the princely rule and to peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and upon his kingdom in order to establish it firmly and to sustain it by means of justice and by means of righteousness, from now on and to time indefinite. The very zeal of Jehovah of armies will do this.” Isaiah 9:6-7

  • leibowde84

    Incorrect, Paul was led by Holy Spirit and as a result spoke in agreement with the teaching and principles set forth by the Christ. Verified by the fact that it was because of God’s Holy Spirit that Apostle Paul was able to preform the many miracles he did.

    Do you really not see that these are all just assumptions. There is no evidence of Paul’s miracles beyond Christian sources that, obviously, could be biased. Let’s just assume that Paul really told that story as you explained it. Couldn’t it be possible that Paul simply made that stuff up about the holy spirit to give himself more power of persuasion? And, couldn’t the miracles written about by other Christians have been invented in order to, again, give Paul more power of persuasion?

    I am a believer, but I have a really hard time buying anything that is proved by circular logic. IN other words, all of your proof is from the Bible and the words of Paul. Of course Paul would claim to be empowered by the Holy Spirit, as would anyone in his situation. All I’m saying is that there is a possibility that Paul was nothing more than someone touched by Christ’s message and, if that were the case, he would, like every other human being, be plagued by inaccuracy and self-serving temptation. I just think it is ridiculous not to allow it even as a possibility. Do you not agree?

  • leibowde84

    And, you can’t use Bible passages to prove that other Bible passages are true. It’s almost insulting, as it doesn’t prove anything, It is merely circular logic, using your hypothesis to prove it (proving that what in the Bible is true simply because of other things written in the same Bible).

  • leibowde84

    And, please excuse my directness. I am a fellow Christian who is on a mission to merely point out that nothing is certain in terms of beliefs. That misguided certainty is what causes so many problems in our world. It must be recognized that no matter how strongly you feel about your faith, there is a possibility that you are mistaken. It is frustrating when people refuse to acknowledge this simply and necessary truth.

  • Rongoklunk

    I can only wonder why God doesn’t get involved. He’s the Great Smiter, so why doesn’t He DO something?
    The fact that He never ever does anything at all – doesn’t even show Himself – says He’s either bashful or nonexistent.. The fact that nobody ever saw this dude only adds to the probability that He’s just a figment of the imagination.

  • Rongoklunk

    “What I got in Sunday school was simply a firm conviction that the Christian Faith was full of palpable absurdities, and the Christian God preposterous. The act of worship, as carried on by Christians, seems to me to be debasing rather than ennobling. It involves groveling before a being who, if he really exists, deserves to be denounced instead of respected.”

    HLMencken in a letter to Will Durant, quoted in Atheist Universe, by David Mills

  • Rongoklunk

    “The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus by the Supreme Being as his father, in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter.”

    Thomas Jefferson in a letter to John Adams, April , 1823

  • PhillyJimi1

    The other side need to do better then the 3 stooges Romney, Palin & Perry. I am not a Obama fan but when you have to pick the best of the worst you’re not left with much of a choice.

    If you haven’t gotten the memo yet Rambo in 2016 there will be another election, you can hold off the revolution. Besides I always fear people like you who claim to “have the truth”. I rather listen to someone who says “find the truth” for yourself by listening to all sides and have valid critical reasons for coming to your conclusions while always being open to new information.

  • PhillyJimi1

    In 2011 a Pew Research survey, 84 percent of the evangelical leaders surveyed said that leaders should express their views on political matters, and 56 percent said that to be a good Christian it is essential to take a public stand on social and political issues when they conflict with moral and biblical principles.

    This is fine just pay taxes and don’t claim to be a non-profit. Churches want it both ways.

  • Rongoklunk

    Imagine, 93% of the best brains in the country do not believe in a God. Ninety-three percent of the members of The Academy of Sciences reject the God-hypothesis. It is worth thinking about. Scientists are only interested in the truth, and obviously faith has nothing to do with truth. Religion is all about wishful thinking and the denial of death. In ancient times we all would have believed in a God. There was no other narrative to account for our origins. But Darwin changed all that. We evolved from single-celled life-forms over millions of years. No God needed.
    The above is available on Wikipedia under Atheism, and worth looking into. Who wants to believe in a God who doesn’t exist?

  • Rongoklunk

    Religions have been fighting each other for eons. It’s all about who has the right Godfella.
    Christians believe one thing –Islam another, and Judeism yet another. Science shows they’re all wrong. No gods exist. They are characters of the imagination. The ancients invented thousands of Gods over the eons. It’s what they did back then when they knew virtually nothing about reality. But nowadays we have science and commonsense, and we no longer believe in nonsense. We are all grown up now, and no longer need to engage in wishful thinking. Gods are mythical by definition.

  • jdpetric

    “Do you really not see that these are all just assumptions”

    Is it your assumption that God does not exist ? Having power, insight and wisdom to created the heavens and the earth and all life in both He would allow for His Word of Truth to be “just passages”?

    Personally, as a Christian, I will accept the Bible as the gospel truth, over your frustrations and unfortunate lack of accepting Jesus’ words, “Your (God) word is truth. What kind of a Christians misbelieves the Bible? How can you even claim to be “Christian” thereafter?

  • ThomasBaum

    Cynthia J Rupp Luciene

    Actually, the Egyptians, I believe, did not want to have their country ruled by religious law and no country should be ruled by religious law.

    Ultimately, faith should come from within not imposed from outside otherwise it is not faith but coercion.

  • jdpetric

    “All I’m saying is that there is a possibility that Paul was nothing more than someone touched by Christ’s message and, if that were the case, he would, like every other human being, be plagued by inaccuracy and self-serving temptation. I just think it is ridiculous not to allow it even as a possibility. Do you not agree?”

    No I don’t agree. Now what do you offer as proof or supporting documentation, or inaccuracies to support your allegation or better, opinion ?

  • nkri401

    Wasn’t the second coming of Jesus predicted in the Bible? So, I ask you “so”???

  • Joshua Lewis

    So, Darwin and Atheism justify the killing of Christians around the world? Is this your point? Are you saying: Atheism is true, therefore the extermination of Christians is okay?!?!

  • jdpetric

    “In other words, in order for a historical text like the Bible to be actually substantiated, it is necessary that any text be “backed up” by other historical texts unassociated with the original text. In terms of the historical Jesus, all we have is texts written by followers of the man, so all wouldn’t be considered “historical evidence” as, anyone should agree, they can very easily be biased and inaccurate.”

    First, the Bible itself is the principal evidence that Jesus Christ is a historical person. The record in the Gospels is not a vague narrative of events at some unspecified time and in an unnamed location. It clearly states time and place in great detail. For an example, see Luke 3:1, 2, 21-23.

    Also, the first-century Jewish historian Josephus referred to the stoning of “James, the brother of Jesus who was called the Christ.” (The Jewish Antiquities, Josephus, Book XX, sec. 200) A direct and very favorable reference to Jesus, found in Book XVIII, sections 63, 64.

    Further, Tacitus, a Roman historian who lived during the latter part of the first century C.E., wrote: “Christus [Latin for “Christ”], from whom the name [Christian] had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus.”—The Complete Works of Tacitus (New York, 1942), “The Annals,” Book 15, par. 44.

    Lastly, with reference to “early non-Christian historical references to Jesus”, The New Encyclopædia Britannica states: “These independent accounts prove that in ancient times even the opponents of Christianity never doubted the historicity of Jesus, which was disputed for the first time and on inadequate grounds by several authors at the end of the 18th, during the 19th, and at the beginning of the 20th centuries.”—(1976), Macropædia, Vol. 10, p. 145.

  • jdpetric

    leibowde84
    9/4/2013 10:15 AM PDT
    “And, please excuse my directness. I am a fellow Christian who is on a mission to merely point out that nothing is certain in terms of beliefs. That misguided certainty is what causes so many problems in our world. It must be recognized that no matter how strongly you feel about your faith, there is a possibility that you are mistaken. It is frustrating when people refuse to acknowledge this simply and necessary truth.”

    Please leibowde84, show me where my misguided certainty in God’s Word the Bible is mistaken. Show me with some other holy writings or prove with a combination of your words, that what you are saying above, is “this simply and necessary truth. Please point out the fallibility of the Bible.

    I stand by it’s words:
    “All Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for setting things straight, for disciplining in righteousness, that the man of God may be fully competent, completely equipped for every good work.” 2Tinothy 3:16-17

    “ For you know this first, that no prophecy of Scripture springs from any private interpretation. For prophecy was at no time brought by man’s will, but men spoke from God as they were borne along by holy spirit.” 2Peter 1:20-21

  • jdpetric

    “Science shows they’re all wrong. No gods exist.”

    Really ??? And what proof is that ???

  • ThomasBaum

    jdpetric

    You wrote, “I stand by it’s words:
    “All Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for setting things straight, for disciplining in righteousness, that the man of God may be fully competent, completely equipped for every good work.” 2Tinothy 3:16-17″

    As it says “that the man of God may be fully competent, completely equipped for every good work” and it also says somewhere else that “we all fall short” shouldn’t we be more concerned about what we are “equipped” to do in our “every good work”, seeing as we all fall short, rather than telling others what they should do?

    God Is God, we ain’t.

    You also wrote, “” For you know this first, that no prophecy of Scripture springs from any private interpretation. For prophecy was at no time brought by man’s will, but men spoke from God as they were borne along by holy spirit.” 2Peter 1:20-21″

    There is plenty that is written in the bible that it not prophecy but it seems that there are some that seem to think that every word is prophecy and “set in stone”, so to speak, of course we are also told that it will be “written on our hearts”.

    Case in point “Ecclesiastes” was this prophecy about the ultimate meaninglessness of life or was it about someone crying out for some type of answer?

    God gave us a brain to “think and ponder” not just to fill up the empty space near the top of our head.

    What do you think of: “This is good and pleasing to God our savior, who wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth” and “For there is one God. There is also one mediator between God and the human race, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself as ransom for all”?

    It seems pretty clear and straight-forward what God’s Will is and that what Jesus did in His Life and Death was for ALL, do you think/believe that Jesus is the Saviour of the world and just some of the world?

  • ThomasBaum

    Rongoklunk

    You wrote, “Science shows they’re all wrong. No gods exist.”

    Science does nothing of the sort, it isn’t even in the realm of scientific study and any reputable scientist would dispute your assertion as nonsense and merely your opinion.

    Even tho many scientists might not believe in God, there is not one on the planet that can say that the scientific method “proves” anything about the existence of God.

  • jdpetric

    Thomas,

    You wrote, “it also says somewhere else that “we all fall short” shouldn’t we be more concerned about what we are “equipped” to do in our “every good work”, seeing as we all fall short, rather than telling others what they should do?”

    Yes to your question and where have I told others what they should do ?

    You also wrote, “There is plenty that is written in the bible that it not prophecy but it seems that there are some that seem to think that every word is prophecy and “set in stone”

    Yes again and if you look again that is why I posted 2 Timothy 3:16-17 which says of Scripture that is not of prophecy, “All Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for setting things straight, for disciplining in righteousness, that the man of God may be fully competent, completely equipped for every good work.” Think about what that says.

    You also wrote, “Case in point “Ecclesiastes” was this prophecy about the ultimate meaninglessness of life or was it about someone crying out for some type of answer ?”

    Neither is the case of Ecclesiastes.

    THE book of Ecclesiastes was written by King Solomon, as leader of a people dedicated to Jehovah. He had the responsibility to hold them together in faithfulness to their dedication. He sought to fulfill this responsibility in this regard by means of the wise counsel of Ecclesiastes which talks about life without God in mind, and among things like materialism, as vanity.

    And Yes, I do believe that Jesus is Jehovah God’s provision for all mankind whom exercises faith in Christ and those who obey Christ to gain eternal life here on earth.

    “He that exercises faith in the Son has everlasting life; he that disobeys the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains upon him.” John 3:36

  • jdpetric

    “And, please excuse my directness. I am a fellow Christian who is on a mission to merely point out that nothing is certain in terms of beliefs.”

    So leibowde84, in light of your admission that “nothing is certain”, are you even sure you’re a Christian ?