Religious discrimination and the silliness of some American Christians

By John Pierce

Recently, Nikolai Novikov has been repeatedly fined, jailed, and restricted in his freedom to travel, according to Forum18. His crime: Holding worship services in West Kazakhstan without government permission.

Like Novikov, Maksim Volikov is also a Baptist Christian in Kazakhstan. He was fined the equivalent of one’s month’s average salary according to the news service.

His crime: Talking to people about his faith and distributing religious literature without state permission.

These examples — and worse — of real religious discrimination and persecution occurring around the world (to people of various faiths) need to be contrasted with the silly claims that flow from many American Christian leaders who love to play victim.

Franklin Graham is such an example with his continual thoughtless commentaries — which, thankfully, he is free to express in this great country.

Graham the Younger’s reaction to a private university in North Carolina seeking to accommodate the religious freedom of its diverse student body is at best silly. His words are both misleading and unhelpful — revealing either ignorance of religious freedom in America or an intentional attempt to rile those ignorant enough to take him seriously.

In one sentence Graham associates Duke University’s Muslim students with Islamic terrorism and makes alarmist claims of Christianity “being excluded from the public square” in America.

That is misleading nonsense. The situation at Duke, while open for proper debate, is vastly different from the government endorsing or excluding a particular religious expression in “the public square.” This is a private university’s chapel, not the courthouse bell tower.

Such fear-mongering and misleading statements, as Graham and other silly American Christians are prone to offer, do absolutely noting to defend religious liberty — because they distract attention from actual religious discrimination. And please take note that their focus of concern is ALWAYS on “my rights” rather than those of the powerless.

True advocates of religious liberty stand up for those in the minority who face real discrimination and persecution.

Thank God for those early Americans who saw the abuses that a state religion caused for those belonging to smaller, powerless and suspect religious groups like Quakers and, yep, Baptists. And did something about it!

Today the long-held, hard-earned, Baptist-influenced, essential American commitment to religious liberty for ALL sometimes faces a rub or two. There is room for spirited, thoughtful debate around particular issues.

However, nothing does greater damage to this American treasure of religious freedom for all — or trivialize the real discrimination and persecution happening around the world — than the fearful, shrill voices of American Christians who claim to be victims at every opportunity and spread their manufactured fears among the gullible masses whenever their cultural dominance is threatened by religious diversity.

One must have a very fragile faith to be so threatened and self-focused.

 

 

7 Comments

  1. This is the usual ultra-liberal, warm-fuzzy approach regarding freedom of speech or religion or whatever. You opened with examples of Christians being persecuted by Muslim governments, and then without skipping a beat switched to Duke, which is not being persecuted by the U.S. government or any other entity, religious or otherwise, for that matter. Your actual purpose seemed to be a conceived of opportunity to blast away at a favorite target of “Baptist liberals”—Franklin Graham, whose worldwide ministry aiding the suffering inspires jealousy on a colossal level…walking the walk instead of just talking the walk. Duke is a private institution that can blast the muezzin’s whine from its bell tower or a bit of rap by some dude calling for cop-killing or Artie Shaw’s Stardust or the hymn Holy, Holy, Holy. Duke didn’t back down account of Graham but because people connected with the college probably said no more gifts in the name of Allah.

    • Oh dear…I forgot. I’m one of those “silly American Christians.”

      • Indeed you are, Jim. Your defense of Franklin sounds like the frat boys who provided alcoholic drinks to minors and hazed pledges saying, “but we did a canned food drive last semester.” And, by the way, “Allah” is the Arabic word for God used even by Christians who speak that language.

        • As Paul found in Acts 9, it’s hard to kick against the pricks. And all these years, to think I hadn’t heard that Allah meant God to a Muslim and was guilty of thinking Allah was a figment of the imagination of Mohammad, the most intrepid caravan-raider of his day. One wonders at the wisdom he might have imparted if he had ever learned to read or write. Comparing me and Graham to the frat-boys was a gem.

  2. In French, “god” is “dieu”. In Spanish, “god” is “dios”. In German, “god” is “gott”. In ancient Hebrew, “god” was “yhwh”. And in Arabic, ‘god” is “allah”. So to say that “allah” is not “god” is ignorant at best, and now those who read this are without excuse. A different issue is the character of the god who Muslims worship, and just as there are differences among Christians as to the character and commandments of God, so are there differences among Muslims. For many, Allah is a God of peace and not violence.

    • And all of those translations of “God” should be capitalized

  3. In this case, Jim and John are both right. As Duke has now recognized, the Muslim call to prayer from the chapel bell tower of a historically Methodist college was a bad idea from the start. And it’s safe to say that Franklin’s comments were over the top. But as is usually the case, John only tells the half of the story that fits with his narrow narrative. My sense is that Franklin Graham (via the BGEA and Samaritan’s Purse) does more for those around the world who live in places of actual religious persecution than any single American Christian living today. Which is anything but silly.

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