If you’re on the internet reading this blog, I’m sure you’re aware of the controversy swirling around some comments made by Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson and A&E Network’s subsequent decision to suspend him from the show.
I really had no intention of writing about this today. And, in truth, it’s not really what this blog is about. But it does create an illustration for something I’ve been wanting to talk about for awhile, which is the false sense of persecution that is so prevalent in the American church today.
I’ve watched a grand total of probably 20 minutes of DD in my life. Which is about the same amount of NASCAR I’ve ever watched. So you see the connection. I don’t get it. It’s not for me.
In fact, I really don’t care what Robertson said or how A&E responded. My opinion of his comments was that they were fairly uninformed, but largely blown out of proportion. It’s less than a blip on the cosmic radar as far as I’m concerned.
But what does concern me is the response of the church. And so far, I’m pretty disappointed.
I’m not quite sure how the DD crew got to become spokespeople for American Christianity. I know they speak openly about their faith on national TV, which is pretty rare, and so I can see how some people can identify with them because of that.
But it seems like Christians have become desperate to have some kind of icon to hold up to the secular world. And I think that desperation grows out of a sense that somehow Christians are being persecuted in America.
Just look at the so-called “War on Christmas.” Somehow a large number of us have gotten it in our heads that we’re under attack.
But here’s the thing: we’re not. We’re just not in control anymore.
And that, my friends, is not persecution. Believe me. Thousands of Christians around the world are being truly persecuted. And what some goofy rednecks do or say on television has nothing to do with it.
Yes, things are changing around us. We live in a culture with a multitude of religions, belief systems, races, and nationalities. When I was in grade school we used to celebrate this fact. The great melting pot of America was something we took pride in (that is, until non-white, non-Christians started to outnumber us).
And yes, Christians have been criticized, and often unfairly. But that’s still not the same as persecution. That’s just criticism.
What’s really happening is that there are other ideas in the world that sometimes challenge and even conflict with Christian beliefs. Nothing new there. But because Christianity in America has for so long dominated the general cultural consciousness, we’re feeling threatened and defensive because we think we’re losing control.
Still, it’s a long way from persecution. Moving from the majority to the minority may be uncomfortable. It may be incredibly hard. It may even piss you off to no end. But it’s still not persecution.
So for the folks who are outraged by what they perceive as Christianity coming under attack, and who think Phil Robertson is their new champion and standard-bearer, please consider a couple of things:
I know you think Phil is defending your faith. I know you think he’s defending the Bible. I know you think he’s standing up to the liberal non-Christian secular humanist Grinches that are trying to steal your perfect Who-ville Christmas.
But faith that hurts people—even people you disagree with—is most emphatically NOT the faith of Jesus.
The hard truth is, for most of our history in America, the church has more often been the persecutor than the persecuted. We have been responsible, directly or indirectly, for untold atrocities in the name of “defending our faith.”
If you want to understand real persecution in America, try sitting with one of my gay friends who once again today is being subjected to hateful marginalization by a church founded on the principals of love and inclusiveness for the marginalized.
So while many of you are supporting Phil Robertson all over your Facebook timelines and “defending your faith” on Twitter, you need to realize that you’re simultaneously sending a message to a confused teenager somewhere that she’s unworthy of the God who created her.
So ask yourself this, my fellow Christian:
Will your “I support Phil” meme be the last thing that girl sees before she swallows that handful of pills on her dresser?
Will your words “defending your faith” be the last words a young boy reads before he decides to put a gun in his mouth rather than come out to his parents?
Is that the kind of faith you want to defend? Is that your church?
Persecuted or persecutor?
What kind of church are we going to be?