Sun Jun 14, 2015 at 08:31 PM PDT
The latest person to add his voice to the ever-growing chorus of poor persecuted Christians is the pastor of the Texas Southern Baptist mega-church, Robert Jeffress. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because he’s made a name for himself in evangelical politics. He played a huge role in Rick Perry’s big Texas prayer meeting (which just happened to include a list of who’s who in crazy conspiracy theory). He was also vociferous in his attacks against Mitt Romney’s religion. He used the term “Cult” when speaking of Romney’s religion.
Well, he’s back, and this time he’s insisting that they’re being persecuted. He was on the Hannity show where he responded to Bill Maher’s New Rules (Friday, June 12). In this New Rule, Maher asked point blank, “who’s doing the persecuting?” Seventy percent of Americans are Christians. But of course Sean Hannity is nothing if he’s not defending himself against some imagined slight. So he invited Jeffress onto his show, and this is what Jeffress had to say:
“I want to remind people that, you know, the Nazis weren’t able to take the Jews to the crematoriums immediately,” Jeffress said. “The German people wouldn’t have allowed for it. Instead, the Nazis had to change public opinion. They marginalized the Jewish people, disparaged them, and make them objects of contempt.”First of all, Jeffress clearly doesn’t understand the difference between ethnicity and religion. Jew, while a religion, is also an ethnicity. The Germans went after the ethnicity, regardless of their religious persuasion. Beliefs can be changed (and are changed all the time), ethnicity cannot. Even noted German scientists—many agnostic, such as Einstein—were caught in the crosshairs.
Evangelicals and conservatives have this very strange romance with the German occupation. Hitler’s their abusive boyfriend, and they never miss an opportunity to invoke his name as they think back nostalgically about an era they know very little about but love to talk about.
No, Christians aren’t being persecuted. In fact, the greater irony is that it’s the Christians doing the persecuting.
So let’s kick it old school—playground politics if you will.
While the complexities of the persecution ideology are multifaceted,
sometimes it helps to generalize just a bit and simplify things into a
nice metaphor—sort of the way Aesop did in his fables. In this case,
we’ll put our fable in the context of our earliest childhood memories,
Once upon a time there was an elementary school, packed with students, most of whom all looked and acted alike. They shared the same skin color and the same beliefs. They liked the same sports, played the same games, spoke the same language, and attended the same classes. Students who were different, but could blend in, did their best to do so, carefully never to reveal their differences. Those whose very looks showed they were different had no way of blending in, and as a result, were forced sit in the back and be quiet. They were never even called on by the teachers.
While this was difficult for them, in class they could sit quietly and not draw attention to themselves. However, once the bell rang, and recess was upon them, they had nowhere else to go. On the playground, the homogenies roamed freely. They had their pick of the swing set, the teeter-totter, the slide, and the monkey bars. When it came to games, they owned all the balls: the kickball, the softball, the football, and the basketball. They all laughed and played together, oblivious to everyone they had ostracized.
Yet as the school year went on, something extraordinary began to happen. The non-homogenies got tired of sitting in the back of the class. They started raising their hands in class and answering questions. And they got bolder on the playground. Tired of being excluded from playground games, they began to do something so despicable, so craven, that at first, it shocked the entire school. These non-homogenies began to work their way onto the playground—with the intent to play with their homogeneous cohorts. They sat on the swings and refused to give up for the homogenies. They asked to be pick for the basketball team—all the while refusing to homogenize themselves.
There were as many reactions as there were students. Some thought nothing of it and welcomed the non-homogenies into their games without a second thought. Others found it a bit startling, but after some time, they too joined in the games and played together as children do. But there was a third group who didn’t like seeing their homogenous group tampered with in any way. They had always looked the same, and now they were confronted with a whole new paradigm.
At first they could still control the playground. All they had to do was take their ball so that nobody else could play with it. Or they could monopolize the playground equipment. But these non-homogenies had an agenda, and a devious one at that. They were determined to play. This angered this third group so that they began to look for ways to keep the non-homogenies off the playground altogether. They invoked tradition, which stated that only the homogenies were allowed to play. When that didn’t work, they tried to take over the playground by force. They stole all the balls and called dibs on the equipment.
But the non-homogenies were having nothing to do with this anymore. They insisted that the playground was a public place and that all students had a right play there. So now this third group grew violent and became bullies. They pushed the non-homogenies off the equipment and picked fights in the middle of games. When the non-homogenies called upon the playground attendants, at first they were ignored.
So the second group of students stepped up to protect their new friends. They pushed back against the bullies. They stood between the bullies and the non-homogenies. When the bullies tried to push the non-homogenies off the equipment, their friends stepped in to prevent that. Eventually, even the playground attendants came to realize that the playground was for everybody, and they too stood in opposition to the bullies.
Suddenly the bullies found themselves alone and no longer in control of the playground. And this time, they had no recourse. They stole the balls, but the playground supplied more. They tried to control the equipment, but with the friends insisting that they share, they were quickly losing control.
Because of this, they complained bitterly that THEY were being bullied. They had lost control of the playground, and as a result, were given two choices: either they play together with everyone else, or they once again try to take over. Since the friends and the non-homogenies were no longer going to allow that to happen, and there was no way that they were going to play nice with the non-homogenies, there was no place for them on the playground. To that end, they found being on the playground insufferable.And so they began to complain. They were being persecuted.