Apologetics

Eleven: Wake Up, Stand Up, Speak Up

cri-blog-hanegraaff-hank-wake-upI want to mention the number eleven. There is a reason for that. Eleven is the number of Christians killed every hour of every day or every year and that during just the time span of 2000-2010. If you just take that decade you already have one-hundred-thousand lives.

While a tragedy of unimaginable proportion, the problem with statistics is that they never tell the whole story. With clinical abstract precision, they mask the unspeakable suffering and horror of our brothers and sisters with just plain cold numbers. They fail to even remotely approach the reality of bombings of churches in Bagdad by Islamic militants, or the slaughter of Christians in India’s north eastern state of Orissa where as many as five-hundred Christians were killed, many hacked to death with machetes by Hindu radicals. Other than those who have personally survived such horrors who can really begin to imagine the suffering of the two-hundred-thousand to four-hundred-thousand Christians believed to be living in forced labor camps in North Korea.

The list of atrocities can sadly go on endlessly; however, those of us in the West should be alert to very dangerous realities that go largely unrecognized by most Americans. The first is this chilling global war on Christians, but the second is a war on religion, which is characterized by increasing secular hostility to religion generally and to Christians in particular. It’s time for all of us to wake up. Maybe not just wake up but wake up, stand up, and speak up. For those sufficiently attentive, the danger signals of soft persecution in the West should alert us to hard persecution now being suffered by millions of Christians around the globe and quite possibly or should I say most certainly head our way.

To those who adamantly deny that such persecution could ever happen in the West, I would kindly extend an invitation to consult the instructive realities of history. Just a blink in time ago. Would the American audience watching Leave it to Beaver firmly convinced that marijuana was the Devil’s weed had taken you seriously if you said that in a matter of years, it would be legalized for recreational use in a growing number of states? Would those watching Ozzie and Harriet have taken you seriously if you told them that the Supreme Court will one day legalize same-sex marriage? Reality is full of surprises, and history is not always merciful, which is why we must wake up, stand up, and speak up.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. memorably put it, “History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.” Poignantly and hauntingly, he also realized that “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

—Hank Hanegraaff

Find out more about hard persecution of Christians in The Global War on Christians: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Anti-Christian Persecution by John L. Allen. To learn more about soft persecution of Christians in the West, check out It’s Dangerous to Believe by Mary Eberstadt.

Blog adapted from the October 19, 2016 Bible Answer Man.

Apologetics

Debunking Secular-Progressive Syllogisms while Upholding Christian Civility

Eberstadt, Mary-Debunking Secular-Progressive Syllogisms

HANK HANEGRAAFF: We are interviewing Mary Eberstadt, she joins me from the south of France, she’s written a book titled It’s Dangerous to Believe. Religious freedom is under assault like never before. A country founded upon freedom of speech and religious belief is being changed from within by activists’ hostile to both. Is this what we want the United States of America to be? Well, the rhetorical question is answered with a resounding “no,” but if that in fact is your sentiment, then you have to do something about it. The first thing you have to do is know what’s going on, and then have the discernment necessary to do something significant. I think this book leads us in that direction. That’s why I am passionate about putting it into your hands.

Mary you talk about syllogisms. Syllogism like: “If you are against abortion; therefore, you are anti-woman.” “If you believe in Christian teaching; therefore, you hate people who endorse same-sex marriage.” The syllogism seems to sell, but it’s obvious fallacious.

MARY EBERSTADT: Yes, it is Hank. That’s another thing that I think makes the difference between playing defense and playing offence in these matters. Those syllogisms—the idea that if you’re against the secularist progressive political program; therefore, you’re a bad person—are fallacious syllogisms. They’re illogical. A 6-year-old could pick apart the logic of that. Yet, those syllogisms make up so much of our public conversation out there.

Christians today are called “bigots” and “haters” without any evidence that they hate anyone at all or that they’re bigoted against anyone at all. I think the time has more than come to raise our hands and say, “This is unjust.” Other people are not pilloried [publicly scorned or ridiculed] in this way. Other people are not deprived of a place at the table of public life because of these fallacious syllogisms. This shouldn’t be happening to believers either.

I want to stress, Hank, that I we can make this case with civility and by appealing to people’s reason. There is nothing alarmist about by my argument, but I did write it in order to put it into the hands of religious believers so that people have a blueprint and they have a record in their hands of what’s going on, what kind of penalties are being given out to believing Christians that are not being given out to other people in higher education, the better higher social circles, and the workplace. I hope that empirical record is useful to people not because it should frighten them but because it should empower them to say to their secular progressive friends and neighbors, “Look, what you’re doing is unjust.”

HANK: Talk about Hillary Clinton. You write about this in the book. At the 2015 Women of the World Summit she declared deep seated cultural codes, religious beliefs, and structured bias have to be changed. What’s inculcated in those words?

MARY: Well, that was about as clear a statement that politics trumps religious liberty as any we have seen. I mean ordering longstanding religions to change their longstanding teachings is a pretty clear statement of the idea that politics is above everything.

There are also a number of statements that President Barack Obama has made over two terms that have inflamed this atmosphere according to which Christians are seen as bigots and haters. He said at a prayer breakfast, for example, a few years ago, that there are less-than-loving Christians. Think about that phrase Hank? Less-than-loving Christians. No President, in fact virtually no citizen would dare say, “Less than loving __________,” fill in the blank with some other religious group there. Yet, here as in so many cases there is a double standard where it is permissible to say derogatory things about Christians and especially tradition minded Christians in a way that it is not permissible to make derogatory statements about other people.

I think the solution to this is not to be free to make all the derogatory statements we want. The solution is to abolish the double standard and to have a level of civility towards Christians that we have toward everybody else.

HANK: This may be a little off point, but you’ve kind of got this going on in my mind, with your comment. I think about Obama and some of the things that he says vis-à-vis Christianity. On the one hand, you have him speaking with soaring rhetoric about the Andalusian paradise, for example, on the other hand, you hear him criticizing Christianity over and over again. What disturbs me about all of this is he professes to be a Christian, I’m not doubting of what he is saying, but why speak with soaring rhetoric about Islam and then demean the Christian faith?

MARY: Well, in particular, what the President has demeaned, and this is a matter of public record, is tradition minded Christianity. That is to say, there doesn’t seem to be a problem with the Christians who have already gotten rid of the unpopular moral teachings of Christianity. It’s the other ones he goes after and other people go after. If you remember from some years back, the statement about rural believers who cling to their guns and their religion, remember that, he said they get bitter and they cling to their guns and their religion? Well, that was about as condescending a thing that you can say of ordinary rank and file Christians in this country.

The point is: This condescension isn’t just a matter of attitude, it really does trickle down. You opened by talking about what’s happening to Christians in the Middle East, it’s one of the most important stories of the world. There’s genocide in the Middle East against Christians; yet, it took our government, Hank, years longer to use that “G” word that it did many other people and other governments. Even the United Nations beat the United States of America in acknowledging that this is genocide. This was despite the pleadings of many scholars, some of them are noted in the book, who begged the United States to recognize that this is what is going on.

Now, I don’t bring this up to suggest anything nefarious about the President and the Administration, I’m not saying they did this on purpose. What I’m saying is this: If you come to politics with a bias against Christianity in the first place, if you think the expression of Christianity in America is a problem, and something that needs reigning in, then of course what’s going on with Christians elsewhere is not going to be at the top of your “to do” list. I think that’s what happened here. It’s one of many ways in which the plight of Christians in the Middle East and the purposeful diminishing of Christians in the prosperous West are related things. No, they are not the same things. People here in America are not being crucified or driven from their homes. But, they are suffering in other ways that make it hard for them to help their worst off brethren. So, these things are related at the root, and we need to understand that.

For further study, we recommend addition It’s Dangerous to Believe to your apologetics arsenal. To order, click here.

Mary Eberstadt is an essayist and author of several influential books, including How the West Really Lost God, Adam and Eve After the Pill and Home-Alone America. She is also the editor of Why I Turned Right. Her novel The Loser Letters has recently been adapted for the stage. Eberstadt is a frequent contributor to Time, the Wall Street Journal, the National Review, the Weekly Standard, and First Things. She lives in the Washington, DC, area.

Blog adapted from the August 1, 2016 Bible Answer Man broadcast.

Apologetics

Clash with the Rival Faith of the Secular Progressive Alliance

Eberstadt, Mary-Rival Faith of Secular Progressive Alliance

HANK HANEGRAAFF: Cardinal Francis George of Chicago ominously predicted that he would die in bed, his successor in prison, and his successor’s successor a martyr in the public square. What Cardinal George predicted is already happening, and I would say with alarming frequency in the cradle of Christianity. The genocide of Christians in Syria and Iraq is simply breath taking. Although all too often it falls squarely in the blind spot of most Western Christians. Even that, however, is rapidly changing. Father Jacques Hamel was murdered by the Islamic State at the Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, France, while he was conducting morning Mass. His throat slit by Jihadists who forced him to his knees. One of the terrorists was on the French government’s terror watch list and yet at large with a knife. France, of course, is still reeling from the Bastille Day attack in Nice after the killing of more than 80 people. What has happened in France is now becoming a regular occurrence all over the West. As we face a clash of civilizations, which can hardly be plastered over with politically correct rhetoric, Mary Eberstadt has appropriately written a book titled It’s Dangerous to Believe and she joins me now from the south of France. Hi Mary!

MARY EBERSTADT: Hello Hank. Thank you for having me.

HANK: Well, I really appreciate your book and I suppose you are right in the epicenter of what I was just talking about?

MARY: I am, and of course, when we talk about what’s happening to Western religious believers, believers in the United States and elsewhere in the advanced world, we are not making any comparison to persecution of brothers and sisters in the Middle East and elsewhere. But you see a priest in France martyred for the faith is to be reminded that Christianity has enemies in this world, and it has all kinds of enemies in unexpected places. Without making any moral equivalence between the genocide in the Middle East and the soft persecution, what Pope Francis has called the polite persecution of Western Christians, we can still see that we are at a pivotal moment as a civilization and we have to decide whether we will defend religious liberties or not, and it is under threat in the advanced countries as never before, particularly in the United States, a government founded on religious freedom itself.

HANK: Is there any cohesion between militant secularism in the West and militant Islamic Jihadism?

MARY: No, I don’t think we can make that kind of moral equivalence, but we can ask: Why is today’s secularism so belligerently opposed to Christianity? After all, Hank, you know, and I know and your listener’s know that traditional believers in the Western world have been on the receiving end of one loss after another in the culture wars or what are called the culture wars. To say this is not to say that their positions have been wrong, it’s just to observe a fact. My point is that given that they have lost on issues like school prayer, obscenity, abortion, same-sex marriage, etc., why is it that the secularism that targets them is still as aggressive as it is? This is something that I try to get at in the book. You can’t rationally explain the animus against Christianity that’s held today by secularist progressive alliance. The only way to make sense of it is to understand that this alliance has a rival faith of its own, a secularist faith.

HANK: You talk about two cracks in the landscape of religious freedom, elaborate on that.

MARY: Yes, of course. The threats to religious liberty in the United States alone are manifold. On one level there are the kinds of stories that we’ve become used to hearing, stories where human faith is put on these kinds of religious liberty struggles; for example, the fire chief in Atlanta who lost his job because he published book professing his Christian faith (Kevin Cochran). This is something that would have seemed impressive even ten years ago, but now we see more and more of these cases where people are penalized in the workplace or otherwise ostracized for the faith. There was an example of a football coach in Washington (Joe Kennedy), who was suspended for saying a prayer on the field after a football game. This again is the kind of thing we’ve never expected to see in the U.S. until recently, but there is a pylon of these kinds of anecdotes, and I enumerate lots of them in the book.

They’re also, Hank, attacks of a more institutional nature. On religious education, for example, there are attacks by secularists on homeschooling. Homeschooling is thought to be something that parents ought not be free do, especially Christian parents. Some secularists have been very overt writing about their desire to abolish homeschooling. For example, the leading atheist, Richard Dawkins, has actually called homeschooling the equivalent of child abuse. So that’s one kind of institutional attack. We’ve also see attacks on flagship institutions like Gordon College in Massachusetts, and the King’s College in New York. Both of these Protestant evangelical schools have had to defend themselves against attacks on their accreditation in the past ten years and I’m sure, Hank, that this is only the beginning of institutional questioning of religious schools. In these various dimensions we’ve see various kinds of attacks on the transmission of Christian belief, particularly Christian traditional belief

For further information, we recommend adding It’s Dangerous to Believe to your apologetics arsenal. To get this resource, click here.

Mary Eberstadt is an essayist and author of several influential books, including How the West Really Lost God, Adam and Eve After the Pill and Home-Alone America. She is also the editor of Why I Turned Right. Her novel The Loser Letters has recently been adapted for the stage. Eberstadt is a frequent contributor to Time, the Wall Street Journal, the National Review, the Weekly Standard, and First Things. She lives in the Washington, DC, area.

Blog adapted from the August 1, 2016 Bible Answer Man broadcast.