Commentators in major national newspapers in Scotland are aghast. A 100-member youth choir from a Southern Baptist church in Plano, Texas gave a free concert at a shopping center in Edinburgh. The journalists compared this event to Nazi or ISIS propaganda. One asserted: “as a nation we should be stating clearly: bigots are not welcome here.” Scotland is the land of John Knox, the great Scotts reformer (1513–72), and of the young, deeply spiritual Robert Murray McCheyne (1813–43) who declared: “The Christian is a person who makes it easy for others to believe in God.” Now Scotland is a land where preaching the Gospel is compared to noxious Nazism.
The reason for such vitriol? The Plano church follows biblical teaching on sexual ethics, marriage and abortion. Its stated mission is “to glorify God by introducing Jesus Christ as Lord to as many people as possible and to develop them in Christian living using the most effective means to impact the world, making an eternal difference in this generation.” The social commentators feel this mission must be suppressed if Western society is to progress.
According to the Pew Research Center, Newsweek and The Economist, Christians are the world’s most widely persecuted religious group.
Though we can hardly imagine it, the same rejection and persecution taking place in Islam-dominated countries is appearing in “Christendom.” Hate-filled terms like Nazism or ISIS are employed to preserve the West from “hate-filled” Gospel preaching and biblical teaching on sexuality.
Ironically, the caricature of a select group and the refusal to engage in intelligent discussion was exactly how the Nazis functioned in a sophisticated Western culture some seventy-three years ago. Without serious debate as to the supposed genetic inferiority of the Jews, a whole process of culturally intimidating events led to the most heinous crime of modern times. Last year, while visiting family members who live and work in Berlin, we took a tour of the nearby Wannsee House, a beautiful guest house on the edge of a large lake. This manor home was the site of a famous breakfast meeting of fifteen high-ranking SS leaders. In just an hour and a half, over German sausage and cheese, the Wannsee Conference created the “Final Solution,” a plan to murder all European Jews. The only way this could be done was to believe the lie that Jews were subhuman, even though scores of Jews were already Nobel Prize winners!
I don’t want to be sensationalist, but human evil continually raises its ugly head, as it just did in Scotland.
In the US, the University of Cincinnati requires faculty and staff applicants to pledge their commitment to “diversity and inclusion”; otherwise applicants will not get jobs. To receive tenure at Virginia Tech you must show proof of fully endorsing “diversity and inclusion.” The National Parent Teachers Association at its 2016 Annual Convention in Orlando supported “legislation that specifically recognizes LGBTQ as a protected group.” In coming days any class-room teacher who affirms biblical teaching about gender may well be charged with discrimination under federal and state laws.
The opposition to Christianity takes a troubling turn with the not-so veiled threat of progressive Harvard Professor Mark Tushnet: “The culture wars are over; they [the Christians] lost, we won….taking a hard line is better than trying to accommodate the losers.” There will be, he warns, no accommodations or exceptions.
The cultural noose is tightening. As Pew Research just noted: “The U.S. has long been a Christian-majority nation, but major social changes may be making at least one segment of Christians—evangelicals—feel like America is becoming a more difficult place for them to live.” [Pew Research Center: Religion and Public Life, July 14, 2016]. The reason is that Evangelicals refuse to conform to this world and boldly hold to Scripture. Though we must seek the protection of our civil rights, the Apostle Peter’s words are an important reminder:
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.” (1 Pet. 4:12–14).