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SuperMouse's avatar

Are Christians persecuted in the United States?

Asked by SuperMouse (30713 points ) July 26th, 2012

Lately I am sensing from some evangelical and other Christians here on Fluther and in real life, that they feel persecuted for their beliefs. In this question it seems that one of the players in the situation described feels persecuted because of the music she listens to and some responses seem to indicate that Christian members of the The Collective have the same feelings.Do you think Christians are persecuted in the US? To what extent? If you believe they are, what do you see as the reasons?

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41 Answers

tom_g's avatar

Christians are persecuted in this country – just like rich, white men.

In all seriousness, I have had many conversations with Christians who cry persecution. But it turns out that what they are complaining about is when they are denied the right to deny other people rights.

Shippy's avatar

I do recall that question and the asker specifying it was not Christian music specifically that upset her. But we all have pet hates in terms of music, I hate heavy metal. I think though, that the real issue was the mishandling of personalities at a work place and had little to do with whether the persons involved were Buddhists or Atheists, it read to me like a simple manners issue and lack of professionalism.

But yes, I personally feel all belief systems are persecuted from Islam to Christian to you name it. Humans just will stay ignorant and consider that their way is the only way, and that an aggressive attitude and intolerance is the road to go. Whereas it is of course not.

wundayatta's avatar

Of course not. It’s the other way around. There is a pervasive aura of Christianity in America, and most Christians aren’t even aware of it. They just take it for granted. Like it’s normal. So when anyone tries to dig out from underneath the oppressive weight of Christian culture, they see it as persecution.

In fact, that very argument of persecution is part of the culture. The whole notion of Christianity is that it is a fight against persecution. That’s where it came from, originally. This is such a pervasive idea, that Christians have no clue when they are persecuting others because they are the dominant culture. But it works for them, so they will keep on doing it.

Like @tom_g said. It’s the same as rich white men complaining they are being persecuted. It’s a specious argument.

athenasgriffin's avatar

The movement away from Christian dogma isn’t persecution, in my opinion. It is just change. But I wouldn’t be so quick to assume that the change is for the better, as is an underlying, implicit thread in many of the anti-Christian sentiments I have heard on Fluther.

The idea is that moving away from the rituals and the unthinking, unquestioning faith in God that many (Not all, perhaps not even the majority) Christians display will bring a new era of openness and acceptance is not accurate.

Out with the old faith, maybe. But there will be a new belief to follow it if it does fall. Because people are lazy and don’t like to question things. There will always be a status quo. It is comforting to have a solid, unchanging belief. It is annoying to say, but nature abhors a vacuum.

mangeons's avatar

No more than other religions (or lack thereof) are.

tinyfaery's avatar

Pfft. Ask the Muslims how they feel? Music choices aren’t persecution. Not being able to build places of worship and hate crimes are a sign of persecution. The very fact that Christians can worship where they choose and how they choose, and that they have gawd awful music to listen to proves this country does not prosecute them.

rojo's avatar

I agree with @tom_g 100% on this one.
I also believe the promotion of a peception of persecution is good for the church regardless of which faith. It brings the “community” together in an us-against-them narrative and this is why there is such talk of it among the Christian religious groups.
From my perspective, if there is actually any persecution taking place, it is of a sect-on-sect or a “we are more Christian than thou” type.
Most non-religious persons I know do not really care what you believe so long as you do not try to “share” your faith with them and it seems that Christians call it persecution if you do not let them.

Aethelflaed's avatar

They have all of the presidents, most of the members of congress, and are over ¾th of the population. But all of a sudden, they’re being persecuted when others would rather not listen to their music. That’s not persecution, it’s a loss of privilege.

gambitking's avatar

Christians are indeed persecuted in the U.S. quite a bit. Proof is pretty easy to find, just head over to reddit – r/atheism for tons of great examples. But it goes beyond that, and the posters above who are saying things about this ‘pervasive Christian aura’ and that Christians are the dominant culture and that ‘crying’ persecution is some sort of cop-out or defense mechanism of ignorance, is either very isolated and/or completely false.

I will say that the comment “The whole notion of Christianity is that it is a fight against persecution” by wundayatta is also incorrect. Christian means “little Christ” and believers in that faith are called to act in line with Christ’s life. Enduring and dealing with persecution is not an inherent ‘part of the culture’ or some sort of tie-in to the faith itself. Some Christians go a long time, or entire lives, without being persecuted. That’s great for them. Others, however, must endure it and in that circumstance, it becomes a test of faith and tolerance.

The problem with this is that everyone has different definitions of “persecution” and the amount and type of persecution endured by any given Christian varies so widely. Persecution goes in the same bucket with bigotry, racism, sexism and all of those hate-based attitudes that label and tear down a person or group of people based solely on assumptions and stereotypes about their chosen Faith.

And tom_g’s statement that Christians complain when they are denied the right to deny rights is clearly speaking to isolated incidents, typically of people who don’t really follow the precepts of Christianity but are unfortunately linked to Christianity. All you’re talking about is a controlling person who is upset they can’t control something, and they happen to be a Christian and/or the issue at hand is something that can be tied into religious behaviors. If they weren’t a Christian, they’d just be a spoiled, controlling brat. But because they believe a certain congruous faith that aligns with the thing they want to control, it’s a persecution outcry? Hogwash.

zenvelo's avatar

One of the respondents to the original question put it best: Many evangelical Christians feel persecuted because they are not allowed to be dominant over everyone else.

Persecution means not being able to practice one’s beliefs, being criminalized for practicing one’s beliefs, being forced to deny one’s beliefs. That isn’t happening to Christians in this country. Christians are only being forced to NOT impose their beliefs on everyone else.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@gambitking Just FYI, I never get into the whole “REAL Christians do/don’t…” debate. If someone calls themselves a Christian, they are to me, and I will judge them as such.

ragingloli's avatar

About as great a lie as the claim that the puritans left Britain to escape persecution.
They mistake ‘persecution’ with ‘the right to persecute and oppress others’.

Nullo's avatar

Everyone sees his actions as justified, no? I don’t think you’re going to get anything useful out of non-Christians on this topic. You just see it as things getting better (for your kind.)

@zenvelo Dunno about that; we get our functions screamed at, we get ridiculed by people saying that we’re somehow deficient for “needing a god”, our kids are made fun of in schools, and people like you make wild accusations.
“Persecution” is a bit of a strong term, considering that we’re still pretty far from being kicked out of our homes or forbidden by law to assemble, as happens elsewhere, but the sentiment is definitely there.

wundayatta's avatar

@gambitking What world are you inventing? Did not the Romans persecute Christ? I don’t know much about Christianity, but that, at least, has permeated my thick head. It seems to me that Christianity, for many, is about liberation—liberation from the old gods so you could believe as you believed, in what you believed was the true God.

Christians, in the early years, were persecuted all over the place for their beliefs. I hope you are not telling me this is untrue, because then you clearly live in some alternate reality.

These early years play a crucial role in the formation of Christian culture. They play a crucial role in the psychology of Christians, which is to believe they are underdogs. That’s how they started. And just about everyone starts as an underdog, and almost no one ever recognizes when that situation has changed. Christians seem to be no exception.

When your culture is dominant, few people actually recognize that. Americans might claim a dominant role in the culture of the world, and I think they have a case. Other nations make competing claims, like China. But we’re not here to evaluate those claims. We’re only here to evaluate the claim that Christians are persecuted, and for a dominant culture to claim that is laughable. Still, the claim requires explanation, and the explanation is that being persecuted is part of the culture, and the proof of the claim is that the culture of Christianity was formed in a fight against persecution.

Michael_Huntington's avatar

LOL. No.
Some here think that just because an arm chair warrior attacks their beliefs, it qualifies as persecution. Never mind the inquisition, witch burnings or bombing of abortion clinics.

It’s like when a white person gets angry that they can’t get their “own” channel like BET.

Ron_C's avatar

Some Christians need to feel that they are “fighting” for their faith against a wide range of enemies. They are, in effect, shadow boxing. The real prosecution in this country comes from Christians. If you don’t believe me, ask gay people, ask the volunteers at planned parenthood, or ask the Catholic girl that wants to buy contraceptives.

Now they have a new group to pick on; Muslims. To tell the truth if you aren’t white and a member of a good “bible believing” protestant church you are a likely target for attack and or oppression.,

zenvelo's avatar

An example of persecution: I am a follower of Christ, baptized in Christ, and a member of the Roman Catholic church. Being a Catholic is a daily struggle between what Jesus said, what my informed conscience says, and what the church says. I am often at odds with my own church.

But many “Christians” don’t consider me as a Christian because I am a Catholic.

6rant6's avatar

I think this is what is happening:

“The righteous are persecuted.”
I am righteous!
Ergo, it must be the case that I am being prosecuted.
If you do anything I don’t like, it’s persecution.

QED

SuperMouse's avatar

@athenasgriffin I totally agree with your point about people’s discomfort with questioning the origin of their belief system and how frightening that can be for some. When one is completely entrenched in a particular dogma being asked to really look at it, to try to truly understand where it comes from and what it means, then deciding for themselves what to believe is a very frightening proposition.

@Nullo can you clarify who you are referring to when you say “for your kind”? What is the kind you are speaking of? Also, are you saying that what non-Christians see as improving their circumstances Christians see as persecution?

CWOTUS's avatar

I guess it would be helpful to agree on a definition of the verb “to persecute”. Here are some basic definitions:

1. Subject (someone) to hostility and ill-treatment, esp. because of their race or political or religious beliefs.
2. Harass or annoy (someone) persistently.

No, Christians are not generally “persecuted” in the USA, according to these general definitions, but I can sense that their “ability to practice their faith as they see fit” has been diminished in many ways. I mostly agree with those who opine that Christianity is “pervasive” in the US, but it’s not as dominating or as taken-for-granted as it once was. So if you grew up saying the Lord’s Prayer in grade school (as I did for a short while), and then stopped because that’s now against general public policy and law, it might feel like “persecution” because it seems like you’re being discriminated against.

Likewise, Fluther isn’t as welcoming and celebratory to Christians (or strong believers of most other religions), just as it isn’t very welcoming to Conservatives or libertarians. It doesn’t mean that those aren’t still the pervasive feelings of most people in the country – they are – just that this group has mostly insulated itself from those more-common feelings.

I will certainly allow that most strong believers of most religions are frequently ridiculed by non-believers (who can get away with that) in places such as Fluther and certain geographic and political areas in the US where people can get away with that. But I hardly think that rises to a level that a reasonable person could call “persecution”.

It’s not like we have a pogrom going on, or we’re putting people to the rack to recant their “wrong beliefs”.

Judi's avatar

Christians in this country (for the most part) don’t have a clue what persecution is. Having someone openly disagree with you is NOT persecution.
I am a Christian. I think that to call having ones music banned in the workplace persecution is an insult to those who are truly threatened for their faith. Tell them to spend a month in Somolia or Saudi Arabia as an open Christian. Then they might know persecution. Better yet, spend a month silently with a Burkah on in Tennessee.

thorninmud's avatar

I think @wundayatta has it right that persecution forms a part of the Christian identity. And that’s not just an institutional memory of the Roman persecution of Jesus and the early Christians; the NT foretells a period when the secular world would turn on Christians as part of the last throes of Satan’s dominion over earth.

The Christians I grew up with lived in expectation of this mauling by secularists. They saw it as a necessary precursor to their final liberation. Every incident that appeared to go against their interests was jumped on as an example of how the forces of darkness were turning on them. In their view, if you weren’t being opposed, you were doing something wrong.

Judi's avatar

@zenvelo, sometimes I feel like the evangelical right is laughing at right wing Catholics, Lutherans, and Reformed. I have been to evangelical churches where it is clear that we are all going to hell because our infant baptisms aren’t valid, but we will keep quiet about it to keep you in the right wing political fold.

elbanditoroso's avatar

They think so.

Although in my experience, a lot of christians deem ‘persecution’ as You Don’t Agree With Me So You Are Persecuting Me.

Honest, well thought criticism and disputation is NOT persecution.

Paradox25's avatar

Someone already took a part of my answer, since I was going to say look up the definition of the word persecute before seeing if it applies to what is really occuring with Christianity or not. I’m not in the mood to provide the Bible verses which many Christians take literally, those which would create obstacles dealing with tolerence relating to other religious beliefs, but I will say the following.

Christians who really do believe that Jesus is the only way to heaven since our actions could never be good enough to enter heaven have to realize that this statement within itself does create alot of rift with other belief systems, or the lack of. In all fairness there are many parts of the world where Christians are persecuted, and much worse, as in many Muslim theocracies. I can only say one thing here, any religion which does not allow for its followers to evolve, and teach tolerence for others beliefs, will not survive into the future.

Linda_Owl's avatar

Christians are NOT being persecuted in the United States…. they are the ones who are doing the persecuting of almost everyone else, the Gay people, women who want access to contraception & abortions, Transgendered people, etc. They make a concerted attempt to force bonds between religion & state (in some states they have contaminated the teaching of science with the teaching of Creationism) – something that our founding fathers did their best to prevent from happening.

Symbeline's avatar

Christianity is the prominent religion in the Western world, so in free countries like Canada or the US, of course it’s going to get a lot of flack from a lot of people. Anything that’s big will, whether it’s something religious or not. But that isn’t persecution per se, as has already been explained. It is judgement, opinions and views clashing, but that’s a far cry from what persecution entails, isn’t it? Christian organizations and applications currently have the same rights to exist as anything else which is legal around here. Christian stuff that might get banned or whatever isn’t singled out from anything else, religious or not, that suffers the same fate.
Christians are free to worship, they have their own establishments, organizations and everything. A Catholic won’t get beheaded for his or her beliefs. Their family won’t be jailed. Some other countries though, this is just what can happen. Now that’s persecution.

Persecution is the key word, and while I realize that it may have varying degrees of magnitude, if we apply it this way, then a lot of things in society are ’‘persecuted’’. Rap music certainly is persecuted then. In the example you gave with that question, it appears that all music was ’‘banned’’ except for the hospital’s radio station. I wouldn’t see that as an attack on Christian music, rather than a resettling on work policies.
Christianity here is persecuted as much as Street Fighter II is racist for showing a black guy getting punched out by a white guy in its intro.

SavoirFaire's avatar

No, Christians are not persecuted in the United States. People disagree with them, argue with them, and question the legitimacy of Christian hegemony in a country that observes a separation between church and state and that explicitly declared itself not to be a Christian nation during its infancy; but this is not persecution, and it disrespects Christianity’s own heritage to pretend otherwise.

DominicX's avatar

Christians have a history of wanting to be seen as martyrs and the ones who were persecuted, even when they are clearly the aggressors (Crusades, anyone?). The Crusades weren’t about defending themselves against “violent Saracens”, they were about conquest and domination.

Are there anti-Christian people who persecute/bully Christians? Of course there are. Are Christians as a whole being persecuted in this country? Absolutely not. And remember, just because something is the majority does not mean it can’t be persecuted. Look at the history of South Africa. Black people have always been the majority in that country, and they were oppressed by the white minority.

A lot of this is an issue of Christians wanting their beliefs to go unquestioned, unchallenged, and infiltrate every aspect of secular life. Guess what? This is not a theocracy is that is not going to happen. And if that’s the reason you think you’re being “persecuted”, then you’re living in the wrong country that stresses freedom of religion.

@Nullo And you don’t think it happens in the other direction much more often in this country?

josie's avatar

See many above.

Persecution has a specific meaning, like force.
No Christians are subjected to institutionalized persecution in the US.
Being caught up in political and social debates is not persecution.

Persecution means you are arbitrarily denied the same considerations under the law that everybody else is.

And I would like to echo the comment above that most people in the West who complain that they are being persecuted have no real idea what it means to be persecuted.

Crashsequence2012's avatar

Yes.

“Christianity is for losers.”

-Ted Turner.

josie's avatar

@Crashsequence2012
My previous point exactly.
That’s not persecution. It’s insulting, it isn’t a very nice thing to say, but it isn’t persecution.

ragingloli's avatar

And all muslims are terrorists.
Oh my god, there is a holocaust against muslims!~

Mariah's avatar

Nope, sorry. The worst I see is the occasional debate-gone-rude, and that’s really not persecution.

Considering you have to be Christian to even stand a chance to hold most important public offices in this country, I’d say Christians are far from persecuted here.

augustlan's avatar

[mod says] This is our Question of the Day!

jerv's avatar

@Nullo Consider it karmic backlash for centuries of oppressing others along with a “guilt by association” for being affiliated with an organization that continues their quest for world domination. While I feel it is unfair that decent people who merely accept Christ as their savior to bear the brunt of attacks meant for the truly nasty people who use the Bible to justify hate crimes and homicide, that is how it is.

Now, if there were more Christians speaking out against the likes of the WBC, or the SD legislature who is considering legalizing the murder of doctors who provide abortions, things would be different, but remaining silent as your more rabid brothers/sisters-in-faith imply some degree of support for their heinous acts.

If you want to be truly persecuted, become homosexual, or poor.

Blackberry's avatar

Nah, brah. An individual christian can be persecuted, but on a large scale in the United States: nope.

digitalimpression's avatar

Everyone is persecute in some way. Luckily for Bible-believing Christians, it is reason to be happy.

Matthew 5:11–12
“Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”

poisonedantidote's avatar

No, they have a persecution complex.

If you live in a country were the vast majority are Christian, you have blue laws, you can’t win a presidential election unless you claim to believe in a god, and all the other stuff, then no, you can’t claim to be persecuted and be taken seriously.

Christian definition of persecution: “We still have not managed to turn it in to a total 100% theocracy.”

Ron_C's avatar

You know this persecution is just right wing double speak. They do something and accuse others for those transgressions. The especially like to blame the poor, minorities, and immigrants for all problems.

Frankly the problems would go away if the “religiously persecuted” would stop their persecution.

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