The other day I was visiting with the chief of staff for a certain U.S. congresswoman when he asked me if ICC ever monitored or reported on incidents of Christian persecution here in the states. The answer was yes, we do. Although it might not seem significant compared with the horrific and almost daily killing, torture, and imprisonment of believers in nations like Nigeria or India, the fact is that persecution does happen here, in the “heartland” of religious liberty, and it probably isn’t going away any time soon. It’s true, Christians aren’t being arrested or imprisoned in the U.S for their faith, but they do face some fairly blatant discrimination on a regular basis. As an example, here are just a few headlines from the last two months:
Anti-Bullying Speaker Curses Christian Teens – In late April, in the middle of a high school journalism conference in Seattle, the key note speaker, Dan Savage, decided that speaking out against bullying should involve heckling the Christians in the audience. When dozens of Christian students got up to walk out, some reportedly in tears, Savage called them names while others in the crowd hollered and cheered. A number of people later complained to the National Scholastic Press Association (NSPA), the host for the event, only to be told “We appreciate the thoughtfulness and deliberation regarding Dan Savage’s key note address” and “as a journalist it’s important to be able to listen to a speech that offends you.” Apparently the fact that these where high school kids having their faith insulted from the stage or that they had the courage to walk out of the presentation was completely lost on the NSPA.
Ten Commandments Down To Six For Public Display? – Early in May, a U.S. District Court Judge in Virginia suggested that cutting out four of the Ten Commandments (all of the ones which mention God) could resolve a debate over having them on display at a public high school. The idea unfortunately isn’t that surprising in a culture that increasingly views the First Amendment as a way of making sure that all public sites, from war memorials to schools, are cleansed of Christian influence.
FedEx Employee Vindicated In Religious Discrimination Suit – In mid-May, Charisma news reported the story of Eric Weathers, a FedEx employee in Chicago who was told by his boss to stop discussing Christianity with his coworkers. When Eric asked FedEx human resources why he couldn’t talk about his religion, he was told that his speech was an “act detrimental to the company”, the same designation given to sexual harassment and drug possession in the workplace. Eric was also told to lie about his college degree if asked (he holds a bachelor’s degree in Bible and youth ministry). Thankfully for Eric, the Alliance Defense Fund successfully took up his case and won a decision in court that found FedEx’s actions to be “discriminatory”.
Sadly, these are only a few examples of stories that ICC has reported on in the last couple of months. They may not seem terrible when compared with the trials faced by our brothers and sisters around the world, but to ignore these events would be to ignore the dangerous cultural trends in the U.S. that are leading towards an environment that is openly hostile in its treatment of the Christian faith. Sure, it’s still perfectly acceptable to be a Christian, but try standing up for your beliefs, like those high school kids in Seattle, or sharing your faith at work, like Eric Weathers, and you might be in for something of a rough ride.