Christians are the world’s most-persecuted religion — here’s how they react under fire

by Peter Burns | September 18, 2017

091817 Burns Blog Post pic

 

Christian responses to persecution are almost always nonviolent and, with very few exceptions, do not involve acts of terrorism. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty)
Nariman El-Mofty

Christians are “the most widely targeted religious community, suffering terrible persecution globally” according to a study released this year by University of Notre Dame’s Center for Ethics and Culture, the Religious Freedom Institute, and Georgetown University’s Religious Freedom Research Project. From the horrific beheadings of Coptic Christians in Libya by the Islamic State, to the mutilation of Indonesian Christians who refused to convert to Islam, it is estimated that 7,100 Christians died for their faith in 2015.

While Christians are certainly not the only community in the world facing violent persecution today, they are the leading community being targeted for their faith. According to the International Society for Human Rights, a secular NGO, in 2009 Christians were the victims of 80 percent of all acts of religious discrimination in the world. Historically, the Christian church has at different times been responsible for dealing out persecution on other communities, but that is not our current reality. It is reasonable to give some special attention to the research coming from Notre Dame and Georgetown on how Christian communities are responding to this crisis.

The report finds that Christian responses to persecution embody a creative pragmatism dominated by short-term efforts to provide security, build strength through social ties, and sometimes strategically oppose the persecution levied against them. The fact that these efforts are pragmatic should not obscure that they often are conducted with deep faith as well as creativity, courage, nimbleness, theological conviction, and hope for a future day of freedom.

Christians suffering persecution often go underground, flee, attempt to accommodate or support repressive regimes, or fight back, (though the last is extremely uncommon). The report categorizes these responses to persecution under survival, association, or confrontation.

Survival strategies make up 43 percent of Christian responses to incidents of persecution. This is when “Christians attempt to continue their way of life and traditions of faith in their communities, with courageously facing persecution, going underground, or trying to conform just enough to the majority to be accepted,” the report states. The simplest strategy for survival is flight.

The survival response can arise from a desire to preserve a community’s way of life, some of which are ancient with rich history — such as the Chaldean Church in Iraq whose spiritual leadership has decided to remain in the face of heavy persecution. For others it comes from the Christian theology of martyrdom, which says to prepare for and rejoice in suffering.

Pastor Tu in Vietnam embraced this by writing a course for his fellow pastors called, “What If Tomorrow” which focuses on being prepared to go to prison at any time. But survival also can focus on saving lives through flight and going underground — these are often the only available options.

Association, which accounts for 38 percent of Christian responses to persecution, is a strategy focused on building relationships with other faith leaders and government authorities in the belief that such relationships will build bridges with potentially-hostile communities. This strategy is most effective in countries that are semi-open to religious freedom, such as Pakistan, India, and Nigeria, and is a response to the attempt by repressive regimes to isolate Christian communities.

“It is no coincidence that North Korea, the country in which Christians are persecuted most severely, is the country in which the plight of Christians is least known,” the report explains. A prominent success of this strategy is how the church in Indonesia, faced with Islamist violence, developed strong ties with the segments of the Muslim population that favored religious tolerance. Another tool of association is for a church to begin providing a community service, such as healthcare.

Confrontation, the least common response at 19 percent, is a strategy by which Christians openly challenge their persecutors. This often leads to imprisonment and martyrdom, and on very rare occasion’s armed resistance. Some will try to engage human rights watchdogs by publicizing their persecution. This response rises from a motivation to oppose and end injustice. This can also take the form of rebellion against laws which ban open expression of Christian faith. Such actions can lead to prison and death.

Christian responses to persecution are almost always nonviolent and, with very few exceptions, do not involve acts of terrorism. There are six regions where we have seen some armed resistance against militant groups that the local regime has failed to protect Christian communities from.

This academic study leaves the reader with a somewhat sterile view of how Christians are responding, and the reader can forget that behind each of these responses are the heroic stories of Christians dying because they refuse to renounce their faith, moderate Muslims forming a human ring around Coptic Churches to protect them from violence, and believers gathering to worship in basements behind closed doors.

The overwhelming feeling one receives from this report is of the frailty of the responses these Christians have available to them. In Turkey, only 2 percent of the population is Christian. Egypt’s Christian population is between 5 and 10 percent. There were 1.5 million Christians in Iraq in 2003 and it is estimated that only 400,000 remain. Many of these instances of persecution are occurring in Muslim majority countries where Christians have little opportunity to hold positions of influence. These are profoundly vulnerable minorities that need outside allies to shield their human rights.

This report suggests how the greater Christian community, NGOs, external governments, and the academic community can play a part in stopping persecution. Some of these ideas include speaking to governments and international organizations with one voice across denominations and religious lines in conflict areas, promoting peace-building and reconciliation, and encouraging the development of historical narratives that include the contribution of those minorities to national stories.

It also stresses the importance of shining the spotlight on oppressive governments and telling the stories of individuals courageously suffering for their most deeply-held beliefs.

Peter Burns (@peterburns_1861) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner’s Beltway Confidential blog. He is a member of the Philos Leadership Institute class of 2017.

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/christians-are-the-worlds-most-persecuted-religion-heres-how-they-react-under-fire

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Vessels or Vassals?


Now you may be wondering why in the world would I use a somewhat archaic term such as “vassals” in reference to this lesson, but I’ll give you the dictionary meaning. According to the Oxford Dictionary, the meaning is as follows:

NOUN
Historical
vassals (plural noun)

1. a holder of land by feudal tenure on conditions of homage and allegiance.

synonyms: serf · dependent · servant · slave · subject · bondsman ·

a person or country in a subordinate position to another:

Example: “a much stronger nation can also turn a weaker one into a vassal state”

Powered by Oxford Dictionaries · © Oxford University Press


2 Corinthians 4:5-7, “For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.”

Servanthood, paying allegiance to whom many of us call “our Heavenly Father,” sounds noble enough, doesn’t it? Isn’t that what God, Jehovah, our Creator desires of us after all?

Many people, Christians, live their lives according to this premise. They do what they think the Lord commands them to do. They give, they share, they attend church religiously, they help where asked, as servants, they are the epitome of what a Christian truly is. Sorry folks, don’t mean to shatter your image of what a Christian should be, but that is not it!

The difference between a vassal and a true servant of the Lord is those words that keep cropping up in my teaching, unconditional love, or in Biblical terms, AGAPE!! You see, a vassal is a servant under obligation. They give allegiance or homage to someone for something in return, and as you see in the definition used above, usually as a weaker subject under a stronger one.

Okay, you might be saying, “but our Lord IS the stronger in our relationship, and we are the weaker, it’s all over the Bible.” Again, true, but you’re missing an important part of being a vassal, obligation! Love doesn’t have to enter in at all. You’re not quite a slave, but you’re also not your own person, because you are doing something FOR something. In feudal times, is was allegiance for land. You didn’t have to love the “lord of the land” you just had to be there for him, you paid him a tax or a fee. Whether it be actual currency or crops, you gave a part of your work for the benefit of living on a parcel of land.

Obligation, unconditional love? Aren’t they the same though when we relate to the Lord? After all, we most often use the term, “Lord!” Doesn’t he DESERVE our unconditional love and shouldn’t we expect something in return, say, Heaven perhaps?? What’s wrong with that? Isn’t that how religion works anyway?

Wow! You bet it is!! RELIGION works exactly that way, Muslim, Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, and on and on and on. But religion is NOT being “spiritual.” It is NOT walking in the Spirit! Christianity was NEVER meant to be a religion; it was the Romans who called it a new religion, it was the Jewish Pharisees who termed it a new religion. It is and was always meant to be a changed lifestyle; a changed LIFE!!

Being obligated to someone does not equate to unconditional “agape” love! Unconditional means just that; NOT expecting anything in return. You can know that Heaven is involved, but even if it wasn’t, unconditional love says you would love anyway! You love someone for who they are, not for what you can get. A vassal will always expect something in return and a vassal’s lord will always expect to give something in return for that loyalty!

On the other hand, when you SURRENDER yourself, especially your will to another, you do just what that term defines; you give up. You give up yourself, self, YOUR life. You place your life, self, will into the hands of the other, without regard for anything in return. I have said this over and over and over and I will not stop, LOVE is an action; it is a verb. As a true Christian, we are not speaking of love as a noun, as a THING, as a feeling. Yes, the feeling could be there, and it will be, eventually, but it first takes the action and only after the action, is the thing, the feeling realized in truth and actuality!


A Christian’s walk, his life is based on the doing, the very act of loving and not the feeling. In the case of intercessory prayer, another action that I teach about, how can you rely on the feeling for someone you may never know or even meet face to face while on this earth? If I relied on my feeling alone for someone, they would never BE intercession. But LOVE, unconditionally given, expecting nothing in return, motivates me to action, to spend time in prayer for someone I may never meet until Heaven; and even then we might not meet them, but that is not the point of intercession. We intercede because we pray for the Lord’s creation because they ARE the Lord’s creation, therefore, our brothers and sisters in flesh if not in spirit! We pray for another’s well-being and we may never know how that prayer is answered. Notice I said how and not if that prayer is answered. Our Heavenly Father ALWAYS answers prayer and especially intercessory prayer!

A vassal, doesn’t do that. Because he doesn’t get anything in return for the time spent. Time spent is just that, it is spent, it can’t be regained, you don’t barter or negotiate with the Creator for more time (despite the Bibles evidence that it has been done, does not make it a doctrine or something to expect again!).

But you see, the Apostle Paul stated this in 2 Corinthians that “we have this treasure in earthen vessels,…” Notice that? Vessels, not vassals. We have a treasure in earthen vessels! First, a vessel is something totally different than what we have been discussing. A vessel is a container, something which can HOLD something that is put or poured into it. Second, a vessel has no control over what goes into it. It is an object, a tool, something to be used for a given purpose.

As a Christian, a person who has (supposedly) given up their lives, their selves, their will, they become empty vessels (we should be empty) that the Lord, our Redeemer can use for whatever purpose HIS will deems fit. To become an empty vessel DEMANDS an action of unconditional love! To give up your will, your life so that our Heavenly Father can use you for whatever purpose He sees fit, takes an action of love. It is not, nor could it be motivated by only a feeling. If you give yourself up for any other reason it is not unconditional and therefore not the kind of love that the Lord can use.

The Apostle Paul tells us why the Lord wants this kind of vessel, “that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” The excellency of the power? What power? You know if you are only the vessel it HAS to be God’s power for we have no power, excellent or not! “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

He desires to use us to show or demonstrate the LIGHT of knowledge, the Glory of His being and of His Son, Jesus Christ! It is the same light that He commanded to chase away the darkness in the world, in the universe! Genesis 1:3-4, “And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.” Now THAT is power!! AND He wants to use us a vessel, a container to demonstrate that power!! How AWESOME and amazing is that?!

But remember, only an empty vessel can be used. If you place yourself at the feet of the Lord and say, “here I am, use me” you better make sure that the vessel is usable. Empty means just that, nothing in it already or else you will be diluting the power and the demonstration of light and knowledge that our Lord wants others to see. The same principle is applied in the parable of hiding your light (His LIGHT) under a basket!

And here’s the kicker; only through the Blood of Jesus Christ, can allow us to present ourselves as vessels worthy of being used as the receptacle for the power of God! Only the Blood of the Redeemer can coat the insides of this vessel. It HAS to cover our heart, our mind, it has to renew our spirit so that we may be united as one with the Lord just as the Father and Son are one!

Now imagine this, imagine the light that would shine, if we ALL as empty vessels allow the Lord through the Blood of our Redeemer and the unity found in the Holy Spirit, that we could generate to a darkened world!! I’m not talking about some “kumbaya” moment, that lasts only that long; I’m talking about lives that magnify and shine the “light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” out to a dark and dying world!

Can you imagine? Can you see with your spiritual eyes, the kind of impact that would have all around us? Light shining out in unity instead of being closed off or covered by the four walls of a “brick and mortar” organization that was never meant to dampen the power and light of a God and Father who wishes that NONE in the world should perish. Also don’t forget what was stated before, if we are to be those vessels and if the power of that light was meant to shine forth from us, then we can’t have any filters, or masks on. That light has to shine forth not just to the world but to each of us who call one another brother and sister! That demands, transparency, warts and all! Spots and wrinkles if you want!

Jesus is coming back for a church without spot or wrinkle and the only way to NOT have spots or wrinkles is if the Blood of Christ Jesus is washing away those blemishes. Have you noticed that when your clothes have a stain and you put it in the washer, that it takes time to get that stain out? You notice that your washer uses a cleaner AND agitation? Jesus’ Blood is our cleaner and the trials of the world is the agitation! We need one another, those who have already surrendered ourselves to Christ and His will to be in UNITY of the Holy Spirit and to recognize that each of us is in a state of cleaning. Some have been in the cleaning process for a while and some have just been put into the “washer.”

The key is to look at one another through the eyes of God, our Father. He sees each of us who have surrendered to the Blood of Jesus and empowered by His Spirit as already clean. The same way you expect your clothes to be clean as soon as you place them in the washer. You already see them clean. So it is with the Father! We each need to walk in that same light!

A vessel is a vessel because of yielding oneself voluntarily to be used for the purpose of God our Father. We do so because HE IS the Father and for no other reason, unconditionally. We encourage one another in the same light. We strengthen one another for that same purpose, without judgement, and in unity through the Spirit that empowers and quickens us. Only in that do we become a force in this darkened world for the Lord’s knowledge to shine forth. Let’s take off our masks, let’s be transparent for if we truly are the Lord’s, there are no secrets before Him? Let us love one another AND our neighbor as the Lord loves us all, unconditionally. Let the Holy Spirit of God deal with the consequences of those unselfish actions.


In closing, let US become the Church, the Body of Christ, the BRIDE of Christ that Jesus is coming back for!! Unconditional Love, it’s the theme of the whole Bible. It was the theme of Jesus when He walked this earth and it is STILL the theme of Christ who lives and breathes in each of our hearts. It’s that theme that allows us THROUGH Christ Jesus, the same intimate relationship with the Father, empowered by His Holy Spirit! It is why today, right now, we ARE called, as the Apostle John writes in his Epistles, children of God! Let’s be the earthen vessels that allows that light to shine out to others!!

https://forgodslove52.wordpress.com/2019/08/16/vessels-or-vassals/

We Need Christian Nationalism Because Religious Neutrality Has Failed

Our religious liberty never proceeded from attempts at religious neutrality. It came precisely from the privileged position that Christianity has historically held in America and in the West.

We Need Christian Nationalism Because Religious Neutrality Has Failed

Aug 14, 2019 By Matthew Cochran

A gaggle of representatives from theologically liberal denominations recently issued a statement against Christian nationalism in America, claiming that it threatens both American democracy and the ability of our religious communities to live in peace.

To be sure, Christian nationalism is an extremely odd place to find the threat to religious freedom in a world that increasingly makes demands like “shut up and wax that woman’s b-lls.” But the irony goes deeper than that. It’s not some stroke of blind chance that lead to religious freedom in the Christian West—it was, in fact, due to our Christian faith.

To be sure, although I know self-described Christian nationalists, I’m aware of no organized political movement for this statement to oppose and so, no standard definition. Nevertheless, I have never found the label to apply to some of what the statement opposes—calls for theocracy, a conflation of American and Christian identities, and certainly not a “cover for white supremacy,” which the statement tosses in to poison the well. I’ve no interest in contending on behalf of such things.

Nevertheless, until “Christian nationalism” coalesces into something more definitive, in my experience the phrase best describes something much simpler:  a rejection of the religious neutrality of the late 20th century in favor of 1) a recognition that Christianity has had a unique and privileged influence on our American heritage that overshadows the influences of other faith traditions, 2) a conviction that a Christian understanding of the world should predominate over other worldviews in American civic life, and 3) an understanding that a nation that successfully excised or sufficiently diluted this influence could no longer be called “American” in the same sense as before. Although more general than what the statement condemns, this understanding would actually encompass many Americans, whether they accept the label or not.

Regardless of its other issues, the statement’s crosshairs certainly fall squarely on this simpler understanding as well. The statements condemns the preference for one religion over another, expresses the irrelevancy of religion for civic standing, and contends for all manner of religious neutrality in American civic life.

But our religious liberty never proceeded from attempts at religious neutrality. It came precisely from the privileged position that Christianity has historically held in America and in the West.

Early States Established Churches with Tax Support

The First Amendment forbids the establishment of a state church in the United States, but it in no way imposes the incoherent burden of religious neutrality on our civic institutions, nor demands that the right to free exercise of religion end when one crosses from private life into the public sphere. We are already experiencing the erosion of religious liberties that these erroneous presumptions have caused, with Christian business owners and officials forced to promulgate ideas they abhor and facilitate celebrations that are incompatible with the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Today, when the American left speaks about religious freedom at all, it speaks in terms of “freedom of worship” rather than of free exercise. But freedom of worship is nothing more than the right to go into a private building and follow one’s preferred liturgy on any day of the week so long as it is out of the public view.

The right of free exercise of religion cannot end there, for no religion on earth ends there. Life is a series of choices in which we each decide what’s most important to us. As we order these priorities, every knee eventually bows to something more important than the rest—the “god” we consider to be the Most Important Thing. Whatever the specific details of one’s god, the very nature of a god is that it is supreme—it lays claim to one’s entire life rather than merely one’s private life.

This is true regardless of whether one follows a traditional religion or even refers to one’s highest value as a “god” at all. Even the hedonist, whose god is personal pleasure, does not leave his worship of pleasure behind when he enters the public sphere. If he refrains from certain pursuits in the public eye, it is only because such restraint will net him more pleasure in the long run. Pleasure therefore remains the god that dictates his public activities.

So it is also with the Christian, the Muslim, the secular humanist, and the utilitarian. So when the follower of a god enters into civic life—as anything from a simple voter all the way up to president—he does not and cannot cease following that god. He will instead look to what that god demands of someone who holds the positions he occupies.

Different gods make different demands. One of the reasons theological liberals are so blind on this issue is their ignorant presumption that, at their root, all religions are basically the same—that they all worship the same God, proclaim the same general values and ideals, and merely have different cultural trappings or modes of expression. In such a fantasy, a neutral pluralism is conceivable, but reality is a different matter.

Although there is only one God, there are many gods (i.e., idols) in this world. The extent to which a person will support or even accept things like secular democracy and religious pluralism depends on that person’s god.

Apply This to Today’s Public Life

What then does that mean for American democracy and religious freedom? It means neither can ever be religiously neutral. Some gods demand such things; some gods merely tolerate them; and other gods abhor them. To embrace these things as worthy of our support and protection and prioritize them over other concerns is to favor some gods and therefore some religions above others.

Rather than submitting to a fantasy of religious neutrality, Christian nationalism accepts and adapts to this reality. After all, the Christian faith is the root from which our form of religious freedom grew, and the American nation is the heritage in which it is enfleshed. The positive forms of secularism and religious liberty that had been enjoyed in America grew out of the specifics of Christianity.

Christians, for example, have always held that there is a fundamental distinction between worldly government and the kingdom of heaven. Even the statement acknowledges this. You can see it in the teachings of Jesus—that his kingdom was not of this world, and that we should render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.

You can see it in St. Augustine, when he wrote of the City of Man and the City of God. You can see it in Martin Luther’s Two Kingdoms theology. You can see it in the Church of Rome’s doctrine of the Two Swords. Different Christian traditions have certainly differed as to how these two realms relate to one another, and some have separated them far more than others. Nevertheless, the distinction has always been there. Civil government can be disentangled from the church precisely because of that Christian distinction.

Every Religion Doesn’t Do Separation of Church and State

But not every religion makes that distinction. Islam, for example, is both a religion and a political ideology. It makes no real distinction between the two. The idea of the Ummah that Muhammad left his followers—a united religious community that transcends tribe and would one day encompass the entire world—has nothing within it to encourage secularism.

Even the simple idea that church and state have distinct authorities and responsibilities is by no means religious neutral.

Political conquest is Muhammad’s legacy because he explicitly commanded it of his devotees, and he established a sharia to which everyone is supposed to submit. According to Muhammad, a pertinent distinction among religions in the world is between Dar al Islam and Dar al Harb (the House of Islam and the House of War).

So in the end, even the simple idea that church and state have distinct authorities and responsibilities is by no means religious neutral. It blatantly gives Christianity a seat of privilege in the way government is organized, and it does so at the expense of some other religions.

The same can be said of American religious freedom. Americans have deliberately refrained from establishing a state church, and we allow extremely broad freedoms for the exercise of religion and the expression of religious ideas. This was a natural outgrowth of Christian ideas, since in Christianity, salvation comes through faith in Jesus Christ—a faith that cannot be compelled by force. Accordingly, from the Christian perspective, there is very little point in using the state to enforce religious adherence.

Now, I’m neither claiming that Christians have always respected this reality nor that we’re the only ones who have. But this is precisely where the nationalism comes into the mix.

Western Toleration Comes from Christianity’s Growth

The Western tendency to tolerate different creeds proceeded from the blood and chaos that different Christians inflicted on one another during the Reformation and Counter-Reformation. It took considerable time and effort to accept this understanding and begin teaching our governments to loosen their grip on the religious habits of their citizens. This effort hinged on the experiences of many different groups of Christians who sought out places where they could freely adhere to their creeds.

So our religious freedom is not simply an abstract ideal floating in the ether, but a heritage—a specifically Christian one. It is precisely English Christians of that sort who learned this very Christian lesson and brought it with them to this land, where they eventually grew into their own Christian nation. It was also those Christians who decided to extend that Christian freedom to the believers on other creeds.

Our religious freedom is not simply an abstract ideal floating in the ether, but a heritage—a specifically Christian one.

Nevertheless, extending that freedom to other faiths never made it religiously neutral. On the contrary, we embedded our religious understanding of such freedom into the way we governed—blatantly privileging Christianity over other religions.

After all, in most other religions, goodness—however it may be conceived—proceeds from a person’s works as much or more than from his faith. State requirements to make the right sacrifices, participate in the right ceremonies, or live in the proper manner make a great deal more sense in other religions. Likewise, religions that demand the infidels be slaughtered wherever they may be found tend to be far less willing to allow those infidels the same kind of freedoms.

So even when America decides to allow the free exercise of all religions, that very decision privileges religions like Christianity, which are more focused on faith than on following specific laws. This can be seen in the way that free exercise has been judged through our history. In a post-9/11 world, it’s become abundantly clear that even flying planes into buildings can be an exercise of religion.

Where Religious Neutrality Ends

Nevertheless, though we put no prohibition on free exercise per se, we always drew the line at publicly immoral behaviors even when those behaviors are also religious duties for some. Certain faiths, for example, have explicitly allowed or encouraged bigamy, but for most of our history, this was never seriously considered an allowable matter of free exercise.

Not every religion sees the matter the same way. Not every religion even has a natural law tradition.

In decisions like that, the state was not and cannot be morally neutral, any more than it was or can be religiously neutral. In every decision, it weighs one set of goods against another and decides which is of more value.

In America, the weight of those past decisions have always been rooted in the values of the Christians who founded and cultivated this nation. Their substance is indelibly colored by Christianity. Our Declaration of Independence hinges the entire matter of independence on the “Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God” and ascribes our rights to endowment by the Creator.

These are by no means religiously neutral statements. They are not sectarian, grounded as they are in the language of natural law, but they are nevertheless grounded in a Christian understanding of that natural law. Not every religion sees the matter the same way. Not every religion even has a natural law tradition.

Common Objections Don’t Hold Water

Some would object to this line of thought, claiming that our nation really founded as much by deists rather than Christians. There were certainly a few prominent ones in the mix, but it doesn’t weaken my case in the slightest.

No nation is beholden to religious neutrality, no matter what freedoms it grants.

Deism itself was always an attempt to possess a Christian heritage without possessing a Christian faith. What’s more, the reason deism went defunct so quickly is that this attempt was almost immediately found to be a fool’s errand. The only remaining progeny of deism are those who returned to Christianity and those who proceeded down the road to atheism. Inasmuch as deists contributed to the founding of this nation, they were still operating under the inertia of the Christian heritage they had received.

Others would claim that our religious liberty is no longer Christian because many non-Christian nations have also provided measures of religious freedom. This is true, and I’m quite pleased that they’ve culturally appropriated religious liberty from the Christian West. I believe my heritage to be of value, so I think it’s great when others learn from it.

But that appropriation does not change where our own liberty came from. Neither does it change the fact that these other nations have modified religious liberty according to their own religious understandings. Israel, for example, allows for a great deal of religious liberty, but it is no more religiously neutral than America is. After all, simply believing that Jesus Christ is the messiah voids the right of return granted by Israel to other ethnic Jews. No nation is beholden to religious neutrality, no matter what freedoms it grants.

The Habit of Toleration Can Go Too Far

To be sure, our more recent history has seen a remarkable shift away from our Christian heritage and its moral wisdom. Under the guise of religious neutrality, too many Christians have been tricked into withholding their good judgment from matters of state. This has led to some profound changes, but there’s nothing religiously or morally neutral about them.

We have, for instance, allowed women to choose whether to murder their offspring, but this is not neutrality—in this, the state blatantly values personal autonomy and privacy more than it values love or the right to live. We have forced people to speak as though men are actually women or act as though two women can be married to one-another, but this is not neutral—it demands that Christians set aside their understanding of marriage and sex. Even something as simple as getting rid of blasphemy laws that respected the name of Jesus Christ was never “fair” or neutral—it only cleared the way for new blasphemy laws that respect sexual deviancy and other politically correct subjects du jour instead.

Christian nationalism is rising precisely because more and more Christians are realizing that we’ve been lied to on the matter. We were persuaded to set aside our heritage in public based on a faulty notion of neutrality and the expectation that everyone else would do the same. But everyone else has done no such thing, and we should never have expected or asked them to. We allowed our religious values to be replaced by others’ religious values and, unsurprisingly, have little to show for our foolishness.

If you Think Christianity Is Valuable, You’re a Nationalist

Christian nationalism is not an attempt to requisition the state to teach Christian theology—it would be even less competent at this than it is at all other types of education. Neither is it in any way an incitement to the largely hypothetical violence over which the statement’s authors wring their hands.

It is simply American Christians who believe that their religion is true and their nation valuable contending for their own convictions about goodness, truth, and beauty rather than for others’. We are not “merging” our two identities, as the statement alleges, but holding onto both of them in everything that we do.

Far from destroying American democracy and religious liberty, Christian nationalism embodies the very same spirit that built that heritage of ours in the first place.

Matthew’s writing may be found at The 96th Thesis. You can also follow him on Twitter @matt_e_cochran or subscribe to his YouTube Channel, Lutheran in a Strange Land.
Photo
“Memorial”by happyfunpaul is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

https://thefederalist.com/2019/08/13/need-christian-nationalism-religious-neutrality-failed/

‘God’s Double Agent’ Talks About The Explosion Of Christianity During Increased Chinese Persecution

“In this war, in Xinjiang, in Shanghai, in Beijing, in Chengdu, the rulers have chosen an enemy that can never be imprisoned—the soul of man.”

‘God’s Double Agent’ Talks About The Explosion Of Christianity During Increased Chinese Persecution

July 18, 2019

Although China is under the rule of the atheist Chinese Community Party, it has seen a rapid growth of its Christian population, at an impressive rate of 10 percent annually for the past four decades. It is predicted that China will have more Christians than the United States by 2030.

However, under Chinese President Xi Jinping, the persecution of Christians and other religious believers has also intensified. That’s the sobering message Pastor Bob Fu, founder of China Aid, delivered at last weekend’s Western Conservative Summit, the largest conservative gathering in the west region. I had the opportunity to interview Fu at the summit.

Before he became a pastor, Fu told me, his life was already full of God’s miracles. During China’s Great Famine (1959-1962), a disaster caused by Chairman Mao Zedong’s ruinous agricultural and industrial policies, there was very little food in the village where Fu’s family lived. When Fu wasn’t born yet, his young mom took his two older siblings, carrying one on her back and holding the hands of the other one, and walked to a nearby city to beg for food.

Under the strict food rationing, people in the city were starving too. Yet there were always kind people willing to share a bowl of soup or a warm steam bun with this hunger-stricken young family. An estimated 20-30 million Chinese people perished due to starvation as a result of the famine, but Fu’s mom and his two older siblings miraculously survived.

Fu was born in Shandong province on the eastern coast of China. In 1989, he led a group of college students from Liaocheng University in Shandong to participate in the pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square. Three days before the Chinese government sent troops and tanks to the Square, Fu had to take his sick girlfriend Heidi (who later became his wife) back to Shandong. Had they stayed in Beijing, they might not have survived the June 4 massacre.

Back at school, Fu and his friends were investigated by local public security officials. Fortunately, none of them were thrown into jail. But they had to write confessions and self-criticism every day, not being able to resume their classes. Some of his friends broke down under this enormous pressure and started lying about their activities. Fu felt a great sense of betrayal. He was angry, depressed, resentful, and even suicidal.

When Fu Discovered Christianity

It was at this time that an American English teacher gave him a biography of Xi Shengmo, a 19th-century Chinese Christian. The book was a God-sent gift. This verse in the book, “If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here!” (Corinthians 5:17) struck Fu especially.

He had hoped to help build a democratic China through the pro-democracy movement. But now he realized that he shouldn’t put his trust in mankind. He was also aware that he couldn’t build anything new when he was so angry and resentful. Before he sought any rebirth for China, he must seek his own rebirth in Christ and put his faith in God.

Fu became a Christian. He was no longer angry and resentful. Instead, he was full of peace and joy, even when he had to write another false, forced confession. But his new cheerfulness caused suspicion. Not long after, the Communist Party secretary of the school invited Fu for a “conversation.” Instead of his normal harsh criticism, the party secretary, not aware of Fu’s spiritual rebirth, was gentle this time and kept asking Fu whether he was alright.

Later, Fu found out that the party secretary thought Fu might have gone crazy after the constant interrogation and confession. Not wanting to have to deal with an insane college student, the party secretary decided to go easy on Fu.

God’s blessing kept opening new doors for Fu. He was able to attend one of China’s top universities for a master’s degree, thus avoiding the post-Tiananmen persecution. Upon graduation, he got a job teaching English at Central Party School in Beijing. With such a safe government job as a cover, Fu actively participated in the house-church movement.

By day, he taught ABCs to a group of atheists who had no idea of Fu’s pro-democracy activism and his religious beliefs. At night, he led sermons and preached the gospel in various house churches in Beijing, the heart of Communist China. This double agent type of life later gave him the title to his biography, “God’s Double Agent.”

The Chinese Government Caught On

Eventually, the Chinese government discovered what Fu was up to. He and his wife were thrown into jail for a few months for “illegal evangelizing.” Both lost their jobs. Not long after, Fu’s wife Heidi became pregnant. The couple were concerned that Fu’s political activity and multiple arrests meant Fu couldn’t get the Chinese government’s permission to have this child nor citizenship for the child once born. With the assistance of friends and lots of personal audacity, Fu and his wife escaped to Hong Kong and later came to the United States as political refugees.

Fu founded China Aid in 2002, “an international non-profit Christian human rights organization committed to promoting religious freedom and the rule of law in China.” He believes that “by exposing the abuses, encouraging the abused, and spiritually and legally equipping the leaders to defend their faith and freedom, China Aid strives to promote religious freedom for all.”

I asked Pastor Fu how bad the persecution of Christians is in China. He told me that their situations has gotten much worse under China’s president for life, Xi Jinping. Fu showed pictures of churches in China being demolished. He talked about the Chinese government’s “Sinicization” of churches: in government-sanctioned churches in China, photos of Xi and Chairman Mao are hanging next to a cross. Before a church service, these congregations usually sing China’s national anthem and songs praising Xi. Churchgoers are told to be patriots and trust the Communist Party first. People who are younger than 18 are forbidden to attend church services.

What worries Fu the most is the persecution of Christians. He mentioned that Pastor John Cao, a permanent U.S. resident who has built a number of schools for ethnic minorities in some of China’s most impoverished regions, was arrested in China in 2017 and sentenced to seven years in prison.

Religious Persecution Tightens Its Grip

Right before Christmas last year, Chinese authorities arrested Pastor Wang Yi and more than 100 members of the Early Rain Covenant Church in Southwest China. Wang was charged with “subverting state power,” a charge that can carry up to a 15-year sentence in prison. In a letter sent from the jail, Wang wrote that the “persecution against the Lord’s church and against all Chinese people who believe in Jesus Christ is the most wicked and the most horrendous evil of Chinese society. This is not only a sin against Christians. It is also a sin against all non-Christians.”

China Aid has been at the forefront of exposing these persecutions and rescuing persecuted Christians and human rights activists in China. China Aid’s most high-profile case involved helping the blind lawyer Chen Guangcheng to escape from China to the United States. Fu translated Chen’s appeal to travel to the United States in a special congressional hearing. Fu told me that China Aid is actively helping a few Christians and their families to escape further persecution in China.

I asked him what Americans can or should do to help. He said, first, the U.S. government needs to talk more openly and forcefully about the Chinese government’s persecution of religious believers, including Christians and Muslims. Second, the U.S. government should incorporate support for religious freedom into its foreign policy. Third, he would like to see the U.S. government use the Global Magnitsky Act to sanction Chinese government officials who persecute religious believers.

My final question to him was why the number of Christians continues to grow despite the government’s relentless persecution. Fu credited it as one of God’s miracles. He also pointed out there is a faith vacuum in China: after the disastrous three decades under Chairman Mao, even the Communist Party doesn’t really believe in Communism anymore.

The wealthier Chinese people get, the more they seek to understand life and faith. The government’s persecution has unintended consequences. When family, friends, and neighbors witness how peaceful, joyful, and loving Christians are in spite of their persecution, these nonbelievers are inspired to become Christians too.

Early Rain Covenant Church is a good example. After a government raid and the arrest of Pastor Wang and some of its members, the church has not disappeared. Remaining members continue to meet in small groups in restaurants and parks.

Before his arrest, Wang said in a sermon, “In this war, in Xinjiang, in Shanghai, in Beijing, in Chengdu, the rulers have chosen an enemy that can never be imprisoned—the soul of man. Therefore they are doomed to lose this war.” Fu agrees. He told me Christians in China are winning because God is on their side.

Helen Raleigh is a senior contributor to The Federalist. An immigrant from China, she is the owner of Red Meadow Advisors, LLC, and an immigration policy fellow at the Centennial Institute in Colorado. She is the author of several books, including “Confucius Never Said” and “The Broken Welcome Mat.” Follow Helen on Twitter @HRaleighspeaks, or check out her website: helenraleighspeaks.com.

https://thefederalist.com/2019/07/18/gods-double-agent-talks-explosion-christianity-increased-chinese-persecution/

Backup plan launched ‘to force people of faith to abandon beliefs’

Looking to make exercise of religion subservient to LGBT rights in all cases

Bible dust read me

Democrats in Congress already have staged a massive campaign to promote their Equality Act, which would impose the LGBT agenda on churches and faith-based organizations.

But now they’re working on a backup plan should the aggressive Equality Act fail.

It’s named the Do No Harm Act, but it would destroy protections for the exercise of religion by changing the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The bill would make the exercise of religion in public life subservient to LGBT rights in all cases.

The RFRA has helped protect religious freedom since it was enacted in 1993.

The law was cited when a Texas town arbitrarily tripled water connection fees for churches to make up for “lost” property taxes.

The RFRA has enabled citizens to use their constitutionally protected religious faith as a defense against unwarranted demands, including those of LGBT activists.

Doctors have used it to decline to do abortions. Pharmacists have, under its protections, declined to provide abortion-causing drugs.

It has been used to protect a Christian foster care program in South Carolina that provides homes for hundreds of kids. The Barack Obama administration threatened to shut down the program if it didn’t adhere to a “nondiscrimination,” pro-LGBT policy.

Democrats believe they can reverse the Supreme Court’s Masterpiece Cakeshop decision if the RFRA is changed. The ruling protected a Christian baker from being forced to violate his religious beliefs by creating a cake for a same-sex wedding.

Now come Democrats with their H.R. 1450.

While it claims to be the Do No Harm Act, it would allow LGBT activists to impose their religious “views, habits, or practices” on Christians or people of other faiths.

It would prevent using the RFRA to protect a citizen’s religious liberty if the action imposes “dignitary harm” or an insult “on a third party.”

It would modify the RFRA simply to say its provisions do “not apply” in such disputes.

And it states that “sexual orientation or gender identity” protections trump constitutional protections for religious freedom.

Faith-based morals also could not be used to deny “a person the full and equal enjoyment of a good, service, benefit, facility, privilege, advantage, or accommodation.”

Courthouse News reported this week the House will hold a hearing on the bill.

The report explained it condemns “those who wield their faiths to hurt others,” according to a civil-rights lawyer.

Rachel Laser of Americans United for Separation of Church and State claimed the Trump administration is “weaponizing” the law to “undermine civil rights protections.”

She said it harms “women, people of no religion, the LGBT community and religious minorities.”

She condemned RFRA because it allowed the South Carolina foster agency to operate according to its faith, which she said is unacceptable.

Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., had a different perspective.

“This isn’t about forcing religious beliefs; this is about forcing people of faith to abandon their beliefs.”

An obstetrician, he asked: “Will I be forced to perform something I believe is wrong? Will I be forced to perform an abortion?”

Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Mich., explained that the Constitution doesn’t confine religion to houses of worship.

“I understand that I am a Christian first and a congressman second. My faith is not divorced from my life. And I would expect everyone else who has a similar belief, that they, in this country, should be free, whether they’re Judeo-Christian or not,” he said.

 

https://www.wnd.com/2019/06/dems-launch-backup-plan-to-force-people-of-faith-to-abandon-beliefs/

VIDEO CA Legislators Blame Religious People For High LGBT Suicide Rates – no such thing as transgender

There is no reputable, serious research showing people commit suicide because a particular religion refuses to embrace homosexuality. None.

By Glenn T. Stanton  JUNE 27, 2019

Legislators in California have discovered yet another way to make it clear that mainstream religions holding to the sexual teachings of their sacred texts have no business doing so in the Golden State. Why? Because these faiths, which billions of good people worldwide happily hold, do not embrace homosexuality. This includes the three largest: Christianity, Islam, and Judaism.

In a resolution that recently passed the state assembly, “the Legislature calls upon all Californians to embrace the individual and social benefits of family and community acceptance” of LGBT people. It singles out especially faith-motivated individuals and organizations.

These legislators make a very ugly accusation against such people. California lawmakers are planning to spread the idea, with the power and moral authority of the state, that such religious beliefs actually kill people, including children. The text of this bill boldly states:

WHEREAS, The stigma associated with being LGBT often created by groups in society, including therapists and religious groups, has caused disproportionately high rates of suicide, attempted suicide, depression, rejection, and isolation amongst LGBT and questioning individuals…

Note the absoluteness of their conclusions, particularly two words: create and cause. Stigma, created by religious groups, causes high rates of suicide.

Do Religious People Make Others Commit Suicide?

Let it sink in. Christians, Muslims, and Jews, your beliefs make gay people kill themselves. If this is indeed true, we are among the worst of the worst kinds of people. These legislators believe this is true and are doing something about it. California is trying to insist that churches, synagogues and mosques, their leaders, congregants, grade schools, universities, and families fully and uncritically support homosexual, bisexual, and transgender identities in every way.

Thus, any teaching, preaching, writings or practices that are faithful to the clear sexual instructions of these faiths will be beyond the pale of official California values. They will not be tolerated. This charge makes this legislation overwhelmingly serious and consequential because of the seriousness of this charge. Either one party is directly culpable for deaths or the other of making such a dreadful allegation.

To be clear, what they’re proposing is a resolution and would not have the razor-sharp edge of law. But it would have the real and devastating blunt force of state-sanctioned shaming of religious convictions. They couldn’t criminalize you, but they could obliterate your reputation and your life. There are too many vivid examples of this already. Of course, this resolution will grease the skids for it becoming enforceable law.

I want to demonstrate, through some objective and undeniable facts, coupled with simple reasoning, why this long-used accusation has no foundation. The case consists of three basic points:

  • There is simply no dependable research support for the accusation. None.
  • Gay and lesbian individuals themselves report being significantly more likely to choose to attend the very churches that teach a more traditional sexual ethic than they do so-called “welcoming and affirming” churches.
  • The most dramatically gay-friendly places in the world still have incredibly and disproportionately high rates of suicides among their gay and lesbian individuals.

1. No Real Evidence

There is no reputable, serious research showing people commit suicide because a particular religion refuses to embrace homosexuality. None. It is largely created as an ideological assumption and political cudgel. But to even question the assertion will cast you immediately as a heartless stone. Remember, any science that does not permit it to be questioned has become fundamentalist dogmatism.
There is a very small amount of literature on the general harms of family rejection (which we at Focus on the Family strongly advise against), but none showing it causessuicide. There is certainly none establishing religious causation. That is an objective fact. Quite simply, anyone making the claim family responses and religious teaching cause suicide do so absent any bit of scientific proof.

2. LGBT People Choose More Traditional Churches

Let’s look at data that raise serious questions about the “religion kills” assertion. Research done by two gay-friendly scholars from Columbia and the University of California at Los Angeles found that, to their absolute disbelief, church-attending, same-sex-attracted individuals are 2.5 times more likely to attend congregations that hold and teach a more traditional, biblical view of sexuality than they are to attend so-called welcoming and affirming churches.
Let’s consider the implications of this interesting finding. Suppose for a moment that the “religion kills” accusation is correct. Either these individuals are too dull to realize they are doing grave harm to themselves by regularly attending such churches, or they find such churches are quite lovely and helpful. Why else would they choose to wake up early on a Sunday morning and go to the trouble of getting themselves there?
This study’s abstract states, “Guided by minority stress theory, the authors hypothesized that exposure to non-affirming religious settings would lead to higher internalized homophobia, more depressive symptoms, and less psychological well-being.” They were honest in admitting they found “There was no main effect of non-affirming religion on mental health, an unexpected finding discussed in this article.” No main effect on mental health itself, much less suicide.

3. Gay-Affirming Societies Also Have High Suicide Rates

Leading gay activists and their faithful allies in the media and academia operate on a simple and seemingly reasonable premise: non-acceptance of homosexuality leads to greater levels of suicide. To reduce these tragic rates, replace non-acceptance with full affirmation and all will be well. Doing so would not only dramatically reduce suicide, but also the disproportionately higher levels of mental illness among this population, which are strongly and consistently documented. (See herehere and here for just three strong examples.)
This thesis is easy to test: Determine the most gay-affirming places in the world. Are the suicide rates of gay and lesbian individuals in these places significantly lower than in non-affirming countries?
The most gay-affirming places on the planet are the Netherlands and Scandinavia. In Amsterdam, the gay movement has received every major law, policy, or cultural accommodation they’ve requested, with nearly no opposition, and often with great celebration. They televise their annual gay pride parade, and Amsterdam spends more than a million euros a year to promote itself as “The Gay Capital of the World.” The land of windmills and tulips is gay Valhalla.
Their gay and lesbian suicide rates should be extremely low, if non-existent, right?  That is not what scholars, government officials, and clinicians find. Rates of suicide and suicidal ideation among gay youth and adults are remarkably, tragically high in the Netherlands. Scholars even have a name for this. They call it the “Dutch Paradox.”
Despite the Netherlands’ reputation as a world leader with respect to gay rights, homosexual Dutch men have much higher rates of mood disorders, anxiety disorders and suicide attempts than heterosexual Dutch men. Epidemiologists report similar disparitieselsewhere in Western Europe and North America. [Emphasis mine.]
Let’s look at just a few examples of evidence. A 2006 Dutch study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior reported that despite living “in a country with a comparatively tolerant climate regarding homosexuality” gay and lesbian-identified people were at dramatically higher risk for suicidality than the general Dutch population.
More recently, a 2016 Swedish study shows that the rate of gay males suffering from lifetime suicidal ideation there is 140 percent greater. The same measure for women there is 110 percent higher than the general population. Bisexuals are curiously even higher, with females 250 percent more likely and bisexual men 160 percent.
In France, fourth on the world’s gay-friendly list, gays and lesbians are on average 80 percent more likely to suffer suicidal ideation than their straight peers. All countries that keep such data show similar findings, regardless of changes in attitudes and policies concerning LGB-identified individuals.

Do Same-Sex Marriage Licenses Affect Rates?

With greater specificity, a 2016 study published in the European Journal of Epidemiology examined how legalizing gay-marriage affected suicidality. It should have reduced it, right? Yet Swedes in same-sex marriages, enjoying their anticipated greater social acceptance and security, retained suicide rates nearly three times that of their married opposite-sex peers. The authors caution these numbers are likely an underestimation. A similar study found that Danish men in legal same-sex unions had a dramatic eightfold increase in suicide deaths over opposite-sex married peers.
The fact of the matter is this: There is no research whatsoever demonstrating significantly reduced rates of suicidal deaths or attempts among gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered people as the overall acceptance or affirmation of these groups in a country increases. Any honest person who knows this literature well will admit it.
Thus, this is the conclusion that must be admitted: If the “acceptance of homosexuality equals reduction of suicide” thesis has any validity to it, a society would need to far exceed the acceptance, affirmation, and even celebratory actions of the Netherlands and other countries to demonstrate it. Of course, this is reasonably impossible. What is there left to do that these countries are not already doing?
Reasonable people, even those in the gay rights movement, must call for a sharp end to the absolutely vile and false accusation that certain mainstream religious traditions are culpable for the deaths of gay and lesbian people. The Bible Belt does not run through Amsterdam, Stockholm, or Copenhagen.
We must admit that something else is driving the tragically high suicide rates of our gay and lesbian neighbors, and it’s not traditional faith convictions. True compassion demands we find out what that cause is; these lives are too valuable to play baseless politics with.

Glenn T. Stanton is a Federalist senior contributor who writes and speaks about family, gender, and art, is the director of family formation studies at Focus on the Family, and is the author of the brand new “The Myth of the Dying Church” (Worthy, 2019). He blogs at glenntstanton.com.

https://thefederalist.com/2019/06/27/ca-legislators-blame-religious-people-high-lgbt-suicide-rates/


There is no such thing as transgender – John F MacArthur

No, God Doesn’t Love Abortion, And If You Say So You’re Not A Real Pastor

The Atlantic’s headline writers must have envisioned people concluding abortion might not be so bad if a pastor thinks it’s moral. There is no other reason for the story. It’s certainly not newsworthy.

No, God Doesn’t Love Abortion, And If You Say So You’re Not A Real Pastor

May 31, 2019 By Glenn T. Stanton

The left has been on a frantic jag the last few weeks to get us all to remember just how wonderful and important abortion is. One of the most despicably desperate efforts was a recent New York Times editorial by a particularly infamous late-term abortionist explaining (and this is not a typo) “Pregnancy kills. Abortion saves lives.”

Pregnancy: Very bad. Abortion: Very good. But of course, 100 percent of everyone who has ever existed does so because a pregnancy did what it naturally does and an abortion didn’t. The craziness of this editorial is a dramatic demonstration of just how paralyzed with fear these folks are about losing their cherished right to be free of children.

The Atlantic recently published a less dramatic, but equally desperate, article entitled “A Pastor’s Case for the Morality of Abortion.” Three trigger words here are supposed to create a confused dissonance: Pastor. Morality. Abortion. A case for the morality of abortion by a pastor. We imagine The Atlantic’s headline writers envisioned so many of us concluding abortion might not be so bad if a pastor thinks it’s moral. There is no other reason for the story. It’s certainly not newsworthy.

This pastor, Jes Kast, is not well-known. She is extremely fringe and not particularly influential. She didn’t recently change her position on the issue through dramatic soul-searching. And she’s a United Church of Christ pastor, a denomination that never saw an abortion it couldn’t celebrate. She also describes herself as a femme queer lesbianwho wants us to “queer this sh-t” we call our lives.

She serves on Planned Parenthood’s national Clergy Advocacy Board and talks endlessly about the need to protect “reproductive rights,” as if she’s pro-fertility. She’s not. She’s a woman who’s proudly political even in her choice of lipstick.

Every day I put my lipstick on, it is a form of protest. When Hitler took over and the war was going on women who were fighting back against the Nazi infiltration would wear red lipstick. Hitler apparently hated it when women wore red lipstick. So for me, it’s an act of protest to put red lipstick on.

This is the person The Atlantic chose to make the moral case for abortion. On top of all this, she doesn’t even make a decent case, as if there is one, much less from a Christian perspective. But let’s give her the respect of taking seriously what she says.

Abortion For Any Reason Is Totally Moral

First, she is very clear that she is all-in on abortion. When asked if she perceives any instance under which abortion is immoral, she says definitively, “I don’t. I really don’t.” These are the words of a fanatic. That’s not an accusation, but a fact. She believes that snuffing out the life of a pre-born child is such an inherent good in and of itself that nothing should override it.

Not the abortion of a girl because a boy was desired, which happens by the millions around the world. How does a feminist square that? Not because one has a cruise coming up in six months. Not because the mother just wants to. These and any other reason are more weighty than the life of the child. That is pure fanaticism.

If Kast thinks the above are extremist examples, then she shouldn’t justify abortion by bringing up the rationale of the 12-year-old rape victim, which she does. It’s the reddest of herrings. Tragic as this would be, the extremely abortion-friendly Guttmacher Institute tells us that only 1 percent of women who get abortions do so because of rape and less than 0.5 percent do so because of incest.

But these make up perhaps 98 percent or so of the reasons folks give for why abortion should be legal. According to Guttmacher, 74 percent say they had their abortion because having a baby would dramatically change their lives or because they think they can’t afford a baby right now.

The Jesus Who Allows Whatever I Want

So what is Kast’s theological case?

Most anyone would agree she’s quite creative with scripture. In her rationale, she quotes Jesus saying, “I have come that they might have life and have it abundantly.” It’s a wonderful statement from the savior, but you should sit down for her commentary on how this makes abortion moral.

What Jesus means here, she explains, is that “God’s plan for our lives is to actually have a meaningful life with loving contentment and satisfaction.” She continues, “Because of that—because I value life, and I believe Jesus values life—I value the choices that give us the type of life we need.” Claiming that access to abortion is a part of why Jesus came and the abundant life he offers is abhorrent and blasphemous. Has she no shame?

But she’s not done; “When people talk about, ‘Our body is a temple of God, and holy,’ I see that as, I have the right to choices over my body, and the freedom to make the decisions that are right for me.” Apparently she thinks this is compelling. That is the fullness of her case for the morality of abortion. Basically, she is giving the precise rationale for abortion that prosperity preachers give for why God wants you rich.

The True Christian Story Starts in the Womb

What this pastor misses is that which is at the very center of Christianity—Christ Himself. She must know where His story starts.

The Christian story begins with God becoming fully human, not in the Christmas manger, but nine months earlier as a human zygote in the womb of a teenage girl who was not yet married. This is quite a dramatic introduction to Christianity, and it says everything about the morality of abortion for the Christian.

If God enters the world as the smallest of unborn human life, the smallest of unborn human life is very significant indeed. Christianity’s savior grew every day from that moment of his divine conception in Mary’s fallopian tubes, nestling and growing in her womb, never becoming anything more than what he was at that moment—fully God and fully man. Thus, Christianity has always taken an extremely high and unique view of the unborn, more so than any other religion or philosophy. This cannot be overstated.

Our pastor misses that this is precisely why the earliest official collection of Christian ethics and morality—found in the “Didache,” or “Teaching of the Apostles”—clearly states that no one “shall murder a child by abortion, nor kill them when born.” This is in the same list that prohibits adultery, fornication, stealing, murder, lying or speaking evil. (Chapter 2:2) Abortion is immoral.

The First Worshippers of Christ Understood This

Our pastor also fails to appreciate who the first recorded worshipers of Jesus were, and where this all took place. It happens in a very wonderful and intimate place—another woman’s womb. Early in her pregnancy, Mary, Jesus’s mother, goes to visit Elizabeth, her close family member who is also with child. The moment Mary walks through the door of Elizabeth’s home, something remarkable happens in utero.

The child growing inside of Elizabeth, none other than Jesus’s cousin, John the Baptist, leaps with joy at the arrival of his savior. Likewise, Elizabeth reveres the one who is in Mary’s womb. The first worshipers of Jesus are a pregnant woman and her unborn son. The womb and its natural bounty are very sacred and fundamental parts of the Christian tale.

Thus, no pastor can remain faithful to the belief system he has supposedly dedicated himself to serve, teach, and proclaim, yet dismiss the inestimable value of life in the womb from the moment of conception. A life exists there because God delighted in creating and sending that wholly unique life into the world as a gift and blessing. A life that bears God’s very image and likeness.

People who contend that ending life in the womb is moral have made themselves God, telling Him they reject His gift and know best. They have denied who Christ was and became. It is to dismiss the wonder of His own history and essence. Any pastor who teaches this has denied the center of his own faith.

This pastor says she follows “this guy named Jesus who said, above all … love your neighbor as yourself.” She believes protecting so-called “reproductive freedom” and “women’s health” does this. She refuses to appreciate that the unborn is the most vulnerable of neighbors that lives right under a mother’s heart.

There is no moral, Christian case for abortion. And there’s no space in Christianity for pastors, in direct violation of the Lord’s apostles , who teach that there is.

Glenn T. Stanton is a Federalist senior contributor who writes and speaks about family, gender, and art, is the director of family formation studies at Focus on the Family, and is the author of the brand new “The Myth of the Dying Church” (Worthy, 2019). He blogs at glenntstanton.com.

Photo keskieve / YouTube

Original here