A recent article on Adventist Today begins with this statement:
“A spate of recent books, articles, and public statements by prominent personalities has claimed that Christians in the United States are being persecuted for their faith”
The author (Raj Attiken) does not give us even one quote or the name of an article to support his claim! Instead he focuses on the Vice President’s address at Liberty University. Again he does not quote anything or even provide the reader a link to the transcript of the address. You can read it for yourself here.
When you do read Pence’s address, you will see that when he speaks about persecution he is not talking about persecution in the United States. In the United States he talks about loss of religious freedom. In Pence’s own words:
“The truth is, we live in a time when the freedom of religion is under assault. Yesterday, I was informed by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom that today Christians suffer more persecution around the world than any other religion. In fact, the United Kingdom released a report just last week that said persecution of Christians worldwide is “near genocide levels.”
In the last few months, we’ve seen unspeakable attacks on people of faith — on Jewish synagogues in Pennsylvania and California, on mosques in New Zealand, Christian churches in Sri Lanka, and on three historically black churches in Louisiana.
No one should ever fear for their safety in a place of worship, and these attacks on people of faith must stop.” (Applause.)
When Vice President Pence speaks to the students about life in the United States he says the following:
“But my message to all of you in the Class of 2019 is — derives of the moment that we’re living in today. You know, throughout most of American history, it’s been pretty easy to call yourself Christian. It didn’t even occur to people that you might be shunned or ridiculed for defending the teachings of the Bible.
But things are different now. Some of the loudest voices for tolerance today have little tolerance for traditional Christian beliefs. So as you go about your daily life, just be ready. Because you’re going to be asked not just to tolerate things that violate your faith; you’re going to be asked to endorse them. You’re going to be asked to bow down to the idols of the popular culture.
So you need to prepare your minds for action, men and women. You need to show that we can love God and love our neighbor at the same time through words and deeds. (Applause.) And you need to be prepared to meet opposition.
As the founder of this university often said, quote, “No one ever achieved greatness without experiencing opposition.”
The sad part about this presentation is the AToday author probably never even read or listened to Pence’s speech. He likely just took his que from the leftist media. As the author says: “Some called the speech a display of the “evangelical persecution complex.” (The Atlantic, The Washington Post, Sojourners etc) The author then reinforces his thesis by saying:
“While it is a fact that religious minorities are being persecuted in parts of the world, it would be a far stretch of the imagination to claim such persecutions in America, though some make that claim and are surprised that it isn’t obvious to everyone. I find these claims of persecution of Christians in America to be hyperbolic at best, and fictitious at worst. Segments of the Christian community often overplay the persecution card.“
The author completes his circular reasoning by again not giving any quotes or references to anyone actually saying there is Christian persecution in the United States.
But having built the straw man he firmly knocks it down by saying it is hyperbolic or fictitious. Well yes—having giving us no actual facts—it is rather fictitious.
He scornfully asks why Western Christians need to identify themselves as victims of religious persecution. He adds the Adventist faith community to this claim of current persecution, even though Adventism has not been talking about current persecution, but anticipates religious persecution at some future unknown date. This is often termed “prophetic expectations.”
Raj Attkien (the AToday article author) is a Professor of religion at Kettering College and former President of the Seventh Day Adventist Ohio Conference.
This is strange to me that an educator cannot be bothered to give us any sources for his claims, or is incapable of accurately relating the information from a public speech by the Vice President of the United States. I would think that Attkien would know that all of those speeches are transcribed and made public.
So what was the point of the article? It is very likely that this is simply the reactionary tendency of the political leftist to try and make the current administration look foolish. Additionally, there appears to be a subtle contempt for Adventist eschatology.
Within intersectional trends of the leftist movement, there is a determined effort to denigrate white Christian men—the top of the intersectional despised pyramid.
In summary the article is pretty much wrong from beginning to end, other than the part where it talks about real persecution out the in the world, like Pence said in his speech.
Genuine Christians value genuine religion (James 1:27; Titus 2: 11—14), and live it in a hostile world (1 John 3:13).
“Blessed is the man who endures trials; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:12).