The Paradox of Christian Persecution

Christian Persecution

Despite being the dominant form of religion within the United States of America, the notion of Christian persecution is more evident on a global level than at the domestic one.

Despite this persecution, there is a bit of a paradox that arises when anti-Christian regimes try to stamp out practices and beliefs associated with Jesus Christ. Provided below is a more succinct explanation of how that paradox comes to be and the ways it manifests.

The Role of Pluralism

Pluralism contributes to one of the finest examples of Christian persecution today. To be succinct, pluralism is the acceptance of more than one religion within a nation or regime. Despite an overwhelming majority of Christians in the governmental bodies of the United States of America, that country’s Constitutionally-granted freedom of religion means that all faiths are welcome within.

The issue with pluralism and Christian persecution arises when regimes decide to put their “thumb on the scale,” so to speak and make it harder for Christians to go through their daily lives when compared to other citizens who belong to faiths like Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism or even Judaism.

In some circumstances, this external influence on Christian living can diminish efforts to convert new followers or even risk the loss of former believers in Jesus Christ. There is no one person to directly blame for this situation, as it is wholly a matter of the status quo, leaving people to either suffer or alter their way of living. Whether they change by moving to another region or adopt a faith that is more “agreeable” to their peers or government, the end result is a loss of Christians within that country.

The Positives of Persecution

While persecution is hardly a warm, positive, good-feeling situation, it does have one positive benefit to those willing to keep their Christian faith. The logic goes that as a regime makes it more punitive or restrictive to be a Christian, only the most devout of members will hold onto their faith.

A similar situation can be observed during Nazi Germany’s persecution of the Jewish people; the Jews who hid and endured were able to pass their traditions onto future generations, and those future generations held onto them tightly out of an understanding of what the cost was to learn them. In short, persecuting Christians will only redouble the faith of diehards and encourage solidarity in an “Us vs Them” situation.

When Faith is Privileged

Privilege has an interesting effect on the visibility of the Christian faith. In the context of this discussion, privilege is when a regime or nation gives additional, explicit support to Christian worshippers and either ignores other faiths or gives non-Christians less prevalence.

The biggest problem with Christian privilege is that it tends to stunt the growth of worshippers. In test after test, the results are the same: regimes that give privilege to Christians, regardless of the denomination(s) involved, tend to instill two negative qualities in that religion.

  1. Apathy/Sloth. When the state encourages Christianity, the average worshipper tends to become less interested in converting new followers; this is often because they believe that the status quo will naturally encourage conversions.
  2. Politicization. It’s often been said to never bring up politics and religion with polite company; people can be quite passionate about what should and should not be. When the state expressly encourages Christianity, even if everyone in a given room is Christian, there are six or seven main branches of Christianity, each with multiple denominations, which can easily lead to dangerous cracks forming in any perceived “common ground.”

These two factors contribute to an expression of Christianity that is more inert and less dynamic. When the focus shifts to concerns of defending the faith and being worried about not being an upstanding Christian, the overall effect is a loss of seats in the pews.

The Final Stop

There are three major influences on the paradoxical effects of persecuting Christians; pluralism, persecution, and privilege. Pluralism causes competition among Christians and non-Christians when attracting new worshippers.

Outright persecution can galvanize the faithful and cause them to hold onto their beliefs more fervently. Privilege, the inverse of persecution, leads to fewer new worshippers.

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