Real Christian Persecution: Are We Near the Tipping Point?

By Tom Gilson Published on May 20, 2017

During last Sunday’s sermon, the pastor at my church said, “Some people would rather not know what’s going on, because it might lead to a responsibility.” That describes every church in America that’s still doing church as usual. American Christianity is heading toward a tipping point, where real violence against Christians could very likely erupt. Yet the church remains sleepy, almost unaware.

The early signs are all in place. Just this week at The Stream we’ve reported on:

  • A teacher in Maine being threatened with firing for privately telling a co-worker, who attended her church, that she would pray for him
  • A Washington Post reporter tweeting that Marco Rubio has “lost it” for tweeting a Bible verse about peace, and a reporter at Esquire adding that Rubio’s biblical tweets are “oddly terrifying”
  • The cancellation of a successful TV show, likely because of its conservative message. (Conservatism enters into this even if it isn’t Christian, as I’ll explain shortly.)
  • Anger over opinions expressed by the current Miss USA
  • A California professor scrubbing out pro-life messages on campus
  • A New Jersey school trying to fire a teacher for handing a student a Bible
  • An entire list of hostilities against Christians on campus

If I were to look back more than seven days, this list could include Christians losing their homes and businesses for the sake of conscience, and churches and Christian organizations being targeted with guns and with arson. Some of that has been racially motivated, but not all of it.

Could we reach a tipping point that boils over into widespread, active anti-Christian violence? Yes. Most of the pieces are in place.

John Zmirak closed his article on Rubio’s tweets with, “Our families are in danger.” He’s right. I’ve sat down with both my adult children and talked with them about the dangers they face as Christians. They’re young, but they’re very aware. They knew I wasn’t making it up.

Yes, It Could Escalate

Persecution is already real to an extent no one could have dreamed just a decade ago. There’s no doubt it could grow. It already would have, had Hillary Clinton been elected. She herself said, in a speech on abortion, “Laws have to be backed up with resources and political will. And deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed.”

George Yancey has shown at length the anti-Christian hostility that exists, especially among America’s elite.

Impending Signs of a Tipping Point

Could it reach a tipping point, where it boils over into widespread, active anti-Christian violence? Yes. Most of the pieces are in place.

First, our nation’s politics are less stable right now than ever in anyone’s living memory. There’s a lot of anger associated with it.

There was violence in the streets when Trump was elected, and again when he was sworn in. Current events are likely to fan those flames anew. Anti-conservative feelings are also running high on college campuses — even spilling over into violence.

The mood isn’t getting any better as time goes on. Many are wondering whether Donald Trump was seeking to obstruct justice when he fired James Comey. Whether that’s the case or not, enough people believe it — and are angry over it — to increase anti-Trump feelings higher than ever. His release of secret information to Russia hasn’t helped. Impeachment is being openly discussed.

A Recipe for a Tipping Point

Add it all up, and we have anti-Christian feelings widely enmeshed with anti-conservative feelings — which have already been known to turn violent. We have an unstable political situation in a conservative government. That’s a recipe for a tipping point.

What I do know is that too many American Christians are still doing church as usual, as if none of this were going on.

Anger against Washington is close to a tipping point of its own. We could reach that point with just one or two more surprises from Trump, fanned into flame with the help of leftist media. With conservatism being so closely connected with Christianity, that could overflow into widespread anger against Christians. “Protests” against right-of-center leaders and speakers have already grown to become full-scale riots. In the country’s current mood, some of those involved in such “protests” could easily begin aiming them at churches.

I don’t know for sure that this will happen. I don’t know when it will happen. I don’t think it’s far-fetched.

Church as Usual Isn’t Good Enough

What I do know is that too many American Christians are still doing church as usual, as if none of this were going on. We’re not preparing our people with focused prayer. We’re not equipping them with apologetics, giving them reasons to hold firm to their faith while under pressure. We’re not building nearly enough community to keep each other strong.

There are exceptions, obviously; but as I talk with Christians, I find that many aren’t even aware.

Like it or not, though, church as usual is likely coming to an abrupt and alarming end. Responsible pastors, priests and lay leaders will start preparing their people for it — now.

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