March 22, 2018
To talk about persecution in a country like Canada, is somewhat daunting considering we live in one of the best countries in the world. It can smack of paranoia. We certainly do not see the type of violence directed at Christians that we see in other parts of the globe.
A recent article claimed that 215 million Christians are experiencing high to extremely high levels of persecution. You can read the article here. For as long as statistics like this have been reported, the situation around the world is getting worse, not better. Persecution of Christians continues to steadily rise.
When most think of persecution, scenarios of torture and murder are what generally come to mind. Though we may never see this level of persecution in Canada, its potential seeds are already in place.
The following points are why I think Christians in Canada need to be prayerfully concerned. Some may object to my usage of the term persecution, but at the pace we see things changing culturally, who knows where the trajectory will take us.
One last thing. Seasons of difficulty often become powerful seasons for the church. History has proven that time and again. This post in no way excludes the impact the church can have when its challenged to live out faithfully the truth it claims.
Nevertheless, as believers, let's be aware of the times and the shifting tides that are all around us. So, with that in mind, here are the five signs:
1. Specifically Christian
Simply put, what other religious figurehead gets more vitriol, doubt, jeering, and outright disrespect than Jesus? Yeah, we hear how people may like Jesus but not his church, but those comments are often bathed in cultural accommodation. After-all, what other religious group uses their founder's name as a form of cussing?
There is an interesting flip side to this. How often do we hear criticism levelled at believers for not being more like Jesus. Labels like judgmental, or holier-than-thou, become slurs that are hurled when the goal is simply to win an argument, not dialogue through it.
A further point, most attacks on Christianity often centre on its theology. Rarely do I hear other faiths challenged concerning topics like forgiveness, marriage, why evil exists, or heaven versus hell. The brunt of Canadians are in favour of protecting other faith groups while at the same time being patently ignorant of the theology they profess.
2. We are an intentional target within the popular culture
This follows the point above. In the swelling of populist thought and ideology, mostly centred around acceptance and tolerance, we are often categorized as the antithesis of such ideology.
Rarely are Christians depicted favourably in movies, sitcoms, or music. We are portrayed as a caricature or parody of irrelevance. We are often cast as dumbed-down versions who live in stark contrast to a culture who is far more enlightened than we are.
3. Our moral and ethical voice is virtually non-existent
This third point is a natural extension of the first two. If the last decade has taught us anything at all, its that our values are continually shifting. From gender fluidity to fake news, its virtually impossible to keep track of the cultural shifts that keep coming in waves.
In the wake of these shifts is a constant redefinition of what is right and what is wrong. What is sad is the voice of the church is barely audible amongst the prevailing din. Our voice on issues shaping morality is sadly missing.
Now some will lay much of the blame at the feet of the church for the previous three points. We do bear some of the responsibility for the state of our affairs. But with respect to persecution, the following two points are where my deepest concerns lie.
4. The laws of the land are disregarded and ignored with impunity
I have been told we have a Charter of Rights and Freedoms in Canada. It seems that someone should be telling our present government of its existence.
Few things are as scary as a government who treats a nation's Charter as carelessly as what we are presently witnessing. What is especially repugnant is how they flaunt themselves as tolerant and committed to equality for all.
As much as I detest bringing politics into the church world, the recent actions of politicians is setting a dangerous precedent that will undermine the very fabric of the freedoms we claim to hold dear. History has proven time and again that the clarion call of equality for all is usually coded language for open attacks on people of faith.
5. We are seeing the dehumanization of Christians as people
One of the precursors for open persecution is the dehumanization of a people group. Once they have been cast as less than human, its easy to inflict violence on them.
We are seeing this more and more. Christians are regularly branded as unintelligent or unenlightened. However its framed, we are portrayed as somewhat less than others. In the last number of years, I've heard derogatory comments aimed at Christians from scientists to entertainers. Each deriding us with descriptions that diminish our humanity.
This, coupled with a flagrant disregard for a person's rights and freedoms, becomes a potentially dangerous cocktail.
It's almost unbelievable to think this is happening in Canada, but the signs continue to show themselves on a regular basis. As I've said, we may never get to the point where persecution is openly sanctioned against Christians, but the seeds of it are already present.
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There are moments in life when any forward movement seems impossible. Especially after a difficult season or a period of trauma and hurt. In those times, it's natural to look for answers and to even question the necessity of the experience.
Church leaders often come face to face with the existential questions people are asking after seasons of difficulty and pain. There is a natural tendency for people to want answers, but often, the answers are elusive at best.