A Philosopher's Blog

Are Christian’s Persecuted in America?

Posted in Philosophy, Religion by Michael LaBossiere on February 11, 2013
English: Persecution of the Christians

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m currently reading Candida Moss’ The Myth of Persecution, which will be available March 5th. I’ll be posting a review of the book on March 6th. This book has, not surprisingly, got me thinking once more about the idea that Christians are persecuted in America.

I invite the readers of this blog to present their answers to the following questions:

  1.  What is persecution (in this context)?
  2.  Are Christians persecuted in America?
  3.  What evidence is there for your view?

Naturally, I’ll present my views on this matter.

Persecution, in this context, would involve the widespread, active, systematic and persistent mistreat of Christians merely because they are Christians. Persecution, by its very nature, seems to require that the persecuted be victims of a more powerful group or groups.

Given this general definition, it would seem clear that Christians are not persecuted in the United States. While Christian groups might not always get what they want (such as a ban on same-sex marriages), this hardly counts as persecution.

In terms of the alleged evidence for persecution, proponents of this view claim that Christians are denied the right to pray, that states forbid the display of Christian symbols on state property (like the nativity scene), that there is a war on Christmas and so on. However, these claims are often unfounded (such as is the case with the alleged war on Christmas) or exaggerated. In any case, this is a factual matter and can be settled by empirical research.

In terms of the evidence against persecution, the majority of Americans claim to be Christians and the nation that is awash in churches. If Christians were persecuted it would seem odd that so many people would profess to a persecuted faith. Even more strange would be the claim that  a minority of non-Christians would be able to persecute all the Christians. Of course, it is not impossible. After all, South Africa’s majority black population was cruelly oppressed by the minority white population. However, we do not see a powerless Christian majority in America that is being subdued by a powerful minority of non-Christians. Powerful and influential leaders, from the President on down, claim to be Christians. Churches with great wealth and influence abound. Christian business people, academics, scientists, lawyers, police, soldiers and other professionals abound. It is especially odd to see powerful Republican politicians and pundits speak of being persecuted for being Christians, given the fact that they are powerful and influential and thus exactly the sort of people who are not being persecuted.  If all these Christians are being persecuted, they do not seem to show signs of this persecution and to allow it to happen in the face of their power, influence and wealth would show an amazing ineptitude on their part. There is also the obvious question of the identity of the persecutors. That is, who has the power to persecute the Christian majority of the United States? No one, it surely seems.

As such, there seems to be no evidence of widespread, active, systematic and persistent mistreatment of Christians in the United States. The fact is that Christianity is the dominant faith. There is also no war on Christmas.

This is not to say that some Christians do not feel persecuted. However, this often seems to be caused by a distorted perception of reality (like the war on Christmas) or by the belief that a failure to get what they want (such as prayer in schools) is a form of persecution. That is, they are mistaking frustration for persecution.

There are, of course, places in the world were Christians really are persecuted. However these places do not include the United States.

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41 Responses

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  1. WTP said, on February 11, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    Are intellectuals persecuted in America? Are academics persecutied in America? Are athiests persecuted in America? Are women persecuted in America? Are black persecuted in America?

    We’ve become a society oriented around victimhood. Where victimhood is subsidized, you will get more victims.

  2. T. J. Babson said, on February 11, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    Does anybody really believe Christians are persecuted in America?

    • biomass2 said, on February 11, 2013 at 5:00 pm

      Speaking as a member of the ‘anybody’ class, I can state without reservation, that I don’t believe Christians are persecuted. A Pew study out this month
      http://religions.pewforum.org/reports
      shows that a paltry 78.3% of Americans claim to be Christian. Protestantism, specifically can claim 51% of that number. Why, according to the study the US is “on the verge of becoming a minority Protestant country”! If declining membership is taken as a sign that the members are being persecuted, then persecution ain’t what it was in Jesus’ day. Christians should be flocking to the religion to stock up on heavenly rewards.

      Matthew 5:10-12
      “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven….”

  3. FRE said, on February 11, 2013 at 3:15 pm

    @ WTP,

    A good point.

    It seems that people claim to be persecuted victims just because they don’t get their own way. I’m a Christian, but I do not feel a need to put down people who are not Christians nor do I believe that only Christians can be loved by God. I really think that God is more concerned with how we treat each other than with exactly what we believe. I am also embarrassed by the way that many Christians behave.

    In Texas, the Texas State Board of Education determines which text books will be used in Texas. Because it is currently dominated by fundamentalists, it is trying to revise history to make it look as though the Founding Fathers were strict Christians whose aim was to establish a Christian country. Because Texas is a large market for text books, text book publishers tend to write books that meet Texas specifications and those books are commonly used nationwide. For more information, check out this site:

    http://www.npr.org/2012/06/20/155440679/revisionaries-tells-story-of-texas-textbook-battle

    Similar information is available from Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

    Although I have no problems with people who have differing viewpoints, I am alarmed that some Christians will stoop to the level of distorting history to influence others and yet these same people complain that they are being persecuted.

    • T. J. Babson said, on February 11, 2013 at 5:31 pm

      “…yet these same people complain that they are being persecuted.”

      Who exactly is complaining?

      • FRE said, on February 11, 2013 at 6:24 pm

        The ubiquitous “they.”

        Actually, those of us who do some reading on the issue are aware that some groups of Christians have complained about being persecuted. You may be able to get more information on this by visiting the web site for Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. Articles in their physical magazine have covered this; it is from there that I have seen the following information.

        In particular, they see teaching evolution in school as a form of persecution because they believe that Genesis accurately depicts how life came about. They also see it as persecution when crosses, nativity scenes, and other religious items are permitted only on private property, and when they are not permitted to lead school children in prayer. Probably these same people would object if their children in school were led in a prayer to Krishna or Lord Ram.

        When parents and their children have taken a stand against leading students in prayer, they have, in many cases, have had to endure hatred from those who support school prayer, etc. This has, at times, actually resulted in bullying, destruction of property, and even death threats. Probably few people fully understand how serious this is.

      • T. J. Babson said, on February 11, 2013 at 7:34 pm

        I guess I feel that not permitting a nativity scene in the town square is not quite the same as feeding a martyr to the lions…

      • biomass2 said, on February 11, 2013 at 8:32 pm

        TJ: You can Google “American Christians are Persecuted” and find all sorts of interesting things. There’s even a website with archives going back to 2006, when, apparently all the persecution started?!
        http://christianpersecutioninamerica.com/
        Googling “American Christians are not Persecuted” shows another side. . . . .
        Seems persecution of Christians is more serious in foreign countries. Just Google it.

        • FRE said, on February 11, 2013 at 9:49 pm

          There is no question that Christians, and other also, are persecuted in some countries. It is unquestionably an exceedingly serious problem.

          • Douglas Moore said, on February 11, 2013 at 11:29 pm

            “It is unquestionably an exceedingly serious problem.”

            On which Mike is notably silent.

      • biomass2 said, on February 11, 2013 at 10:45 pm

        TJ: I’m not altering my 5:00pm statement here. Simply saying that, whether there is real persecution or not, there are those “sensitive souls” who will find it and claim it as their own. Especially when it serves their purposes to do so.

      • Douglas Moore said, on February 11, 2013 at 11:15 pm

        I was wondering the same thing. Persecution is a strong word.

        • Douglas Moore said, on February 11, 2013 at 11:28 pm

          Or perhaps it isn’t a strong word. Webster: “the condition of being persecuted, harassed, or annoyed”

          • biomass2 said, on February 12, 2013 at 12:01 am

            Douglas: Mike gives this general definition of persecution that seems to work in most contexts.
            “Persecution, in this context, would involve the widespread, active, systematic and persistent mistreat of Christians merely because they are Christians. Persecution, by its very nature, seems to require that the
            persecuted be victims of a more powerful group or groups.”
            Substitute ‘Jews’ for Christians. What immediate differences come to mind ? Plug in ‘blacks’ for Christians.
            Same question.
            How often do we see weaker minorities persecute stronger majorities?
            http://religions.pewforum.org/reports

            • Anonymous said, on February 12, 2013 at 9:52 am

              Actually, I would say Tim Tebow was persecuted. I remember Hakeem Olajuwan being very open about his Islamic faith, his facing Mecca and praying, and his fasting during Ramadan. But never a negative article about it.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on February 13, 2013 at 9:47 pm

              While Tebow was subject to some criticism and mockery, his treatment did not seem to reach a level that would count as persecution. Also, there is the fact that the focus was on his behavior rather than on his belief system-that is, he was being criticized as an individual rather than there being a widespread mistreatment of members of a specific group.

            • WTP said, on February 12, 2013 at 10:00 am

              What? So long as Christians keep their big traps shut about their religion, no one will bother them about it. Works just fine in places like Egypt, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, etc.

            • WTP said, on February 12, 2013 at 10:23 am

              Thinking about this a little more, I think Anonymous (Magus?) raises a good point. While I wouldn’t say that Christians as a whole are persecuted in this country, and certainly not in any legal sense, I do believe that prominent, white, conservative Christians such as Tebow and Kurt Warner, etc who speak about their faith are put under a media microscope that others are not. Tebow’s virginity is constantly questioned and under attack. His skills are mocked. While he certainly has limitations in his game, he did lead a very lame Broncos team to the playoffs and then gets sent off to the NYJ who fail to use him much at all. And when the starting QB fails to produce, they jump over him for a far less capable player of his own game style.

            • biomass2 said, on February 12, 2013 at 11:15 am

              Tebow and Olajuwan. Perhaps we’re seeing different interpretations of the “word” persecution by different people. For ex, your tone in the last sentence could be interpreted by some as being persecutory.
              Tebow: In terms of salary , his future in the sport, and his Christian mission , I doubt Tebow minds this ‘persecution’.

          • T. J. Babson said, on February 12, 2013 at 9:06 am

            OK, I was thinking lions, but if “annoyed” counts then lots of Christians are indeed persecuted.

  4. WTP said, on February 11, 2013 at 3:43 pm

    I am alarmed that some Christians will stoop to the level of distorting history to influence others and yet these same people complain that they are being persecuted.

    But they don’t see it as a distortion. It is their perception of reality. Much like the left’s distortion of history in regard to socialism, imperialism, capitalism, etc. etc. etc. The left’s control of academia and the major media suppliers more than counterbalances the influence of Texas in the school book arena. As for the influence of Texas on school books, from the LA Times (http://articles.latimes.com/2010/mar/22/nation/la-na-texas-textbooks23-2010mar23):

    Before 1994, many schools bought largely uniform “national editions” of textbooks, said Jay Diskey, executive director of the school division for the Assn. of American Publishers. Back then, he acknowledged, big states such as California, New York and Texas were able to muscle in extra pages in national textbooks on, say, the Gold Rush or the Battle of the Alamo.

    But since then, Diskey argued, publishers have grown accustomed to regularly printing different textbooks to conform to different states’ needs. The new Texas standards, he said, won’t change that.

    “It’s gotten to be an exaggeration, if not an urban legend, about how curriculum in Texas automatically hops state lines,” he said.

    Diskey also noted that the computerization of the publishing industry has made it possible to swap pages and chapters in textbooks to meet differing expectations.

    Publishers may become even more nimble as digital publishing becomes more widespread, and as educators move closer to the e-book model promised by the iPad and the Kindle.

    Texas former influence seems rather unlikely these days.

  5. Nal said, on February 11, 2013 at 4:59 pm

    For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him, will believe in anything.

    • WTP said, on February 11, 2013 at 5:13 pm

      You would think that would make Marxists and other socialist hucksters forever thankful. The ingrates.

      • Douglas Moore said, on February 11, 2013 at 11:21 pm

        Nal, proving Christians aren’t being persecuted by being an asshole to Christians.

        • biomass2 said, on February 11, 2013 at 11:46 pm

          Nal being persecuted by Douglas More?

          • Douglas Moore said, on February 11, 2013 at 11:47 pm

            I’m being an asshole. A subset of persecution.

            • biomass2 said, on February 12, 2013 at 12:02 am

              I hoped you had put a lot of that behind you. . .:(

  6. FRE said, on February 11, 2013 at 5:23 pm

    “But since then, Diskey argued, publishers have grown accustomed to regularly printing different textbooks to conform to different states’ needs. The new Texas standards, he said, won’t change that.”

    In which case perhaps we don’t need to be quite so concerned about the influence that Texas has.

    Until some years after studying American history when I was a preppy, I was unaware of how much was left out. For example, I later worked at a company in which the president of the local NAACP was the manager of one of the departments. When he told my about lynchings, I did not believe that such a thing could have happened in the U.S. When I read various sources, I was shocked to discover how bad slavery actually was (although it was worse in some areas than others) and about Jim Crow laws. That was only a beginning. Much of that material should have been included in my American History class, but was left out.

    Distorted history is unacceptable to any fair minded person. We should be concerned with accuracy rather than labels such as liberal or conservative which have a pejorative effect and contribute nothing. And, it is clear that certain branches of Christianity do intentionally distort history to increase their influence; they can be very Machiavellian. That has been known for centuries; in his monumental work, “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire”, which he completed in about 1780, Edward Gibbon refers to miracles arranged for the convenience of the church.

    • Anonymous said, on December 10, 2013 at 3:19 pm

      All have suffered the heart of men is wicked who can understand it. To all the speak of slavery, try working in the field sunup to sun down with beatings when asking for water! I have, and my MASTER was my brother! NOW guess my color? YOUR probably wrong…..Evil knows no color…………………………..

  7. ajmacdonaldjr said, on February 11, 2013 at 11:16 pm

    I think you’re missing an important point here. People who believe they are Christians but never act like Christians are not persecuted, but people who are Christians and who act like Christians are persecuted. Many people believe in Jesus but they don’t do what he said to do, so they never suffer persecution. “Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” Jesus said, in Matthew 5:10. Go out and protest an abortion clinic sometime, which most people who profess belief in Christ never do, and see if you’re not cursed, arrested, and locked up in jail for simply trying to save women and children… for simply seeking justice. Go out and protest the unjust US-NATO wars sometime, which most people who profess to be Christians never do, and see if you’re not cursed, arrested, and locked up in jail for simply trying to save people from being slaughtered by the US military. And watch out for the so-called “Christians” who support these unjust wars, because they will curse you louder than anyone will. It’s not what people say they believe that makes them followers of Jesus, it’s what they do that makes them followers of Jesus. Talk is cheap. If people who profess to be Christians aren’t suffering for the sake of justice, as Jesus said his followers would, they’re not his followers. And it’s a simple as that.

  8. Douglas Moore said, on February 11, 2013 at 11:23 pm

    “There is also no war on Christmas.”

    Yes there is. It’s just a weak fight.

  9. The Message from Peter | Shield of God. said, on February 12, 2013 at 9:23 am

    [...] Are Christian’s Persecuted in America? (aphilosopher.wordpress.com) [...]

  10. [...] Are Christian’s Persecuted in America? (aphilosopher.wordpress.com) [...]

  11. [...] Are Christian’s Persecuted in America? (aphilosopher.wordpress.com) [...]

  12. WTP said, on March 26, 2013 at 4:15 pm

    Obviously no persecution going on here. When will the unenlightened, philosophically challenged dufusses understand what “education” is? I’d be screwed if I took this class, however, as I gave up stomping on Jesus for Lent.

    http://pjmedia.com/tatler/2013/03/25/jesus-stomping-professor-fau-story-continues-with-non-apology-then-apology-and-now-charges-filed-against-student-who-complained/?singlepage=true

  13. [...] Are Christian’s Persecuted in America? [...]

  14. LDMack said, on October 28, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    Interesting news item out today outlining how an Army deployment training brief lists Christians and Tea Party advocates as “terrorists.” Keep in mind that current policy is focused on the persecution of terrorists with extreme prejudice. Therefore…

    http://townhall.com/columnists/toddstarnes/2013/10/28/army-briefing-labels-tea-party-christians-as-terror-threats-n1732521/page/full

    Yet even currently, the State Department refuses to add the jihadist organization, the Boko Haram, to their formal list of international terrorist groups. Do these three institutions really belong side-by-side on any list, analogically speaking, without committing a farcical fallacy?

  15. Anonymous said, on December 10, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    J….Many will revise history that is not to say one group has wronged another for one reason or another. I hear this group did this to that group time and time again All have done evil to all……My family running coarse joke, when we hear one of us has died. “We say natural causes” The reply is yes they were shot. Not funny…. no but who owes us! No one it is called SIN and will not stop. So let us be good to one another and look to the future. No $$$ or anger will bring back my dead loved ones!! THINK!!


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