|Historical Perspective - Steps Toward Persecution|
Does Religious Persecution Exist in America today?† If so, What Sinister Form Has it Taken?† What is the Enemy's Ultimate Goal?In studying the history of the people of God, both in the sacred Scriptures and in secular history, it is very obvious that persecution for truth in belief and practice has been a major part of their existence. Persecution of Godís people down through time has taken on different forms, according to the desires and methods of the persecutors and degrees of severity, in order to fulfill the hatred and vengeance of the persecutor toward the persecuted.
During the earthly ministry of our Lord, He made it very clear to His disciples that persecution would, without doubt, be a part of believing and accepting Him as the Messiah and of living according to His Word.
Jesus says: ". . . but I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you; . . ."
--St. Matthew 5:44
The Bible uses some very graphic words in describing the attitude of the enemies of Christ and His Body, which has been the true Church down through the centuries to this present day. These words are:
Enemy - One who hates another and wishes or tries to incur injury; one who is hostile toward another person, idea or cause.
Curse - To call down wrath upon; to send evil or injury down on some person or thing; a blasphemous oath; imprecation.
Hate - To have strong dislike or ill will for; loathe, despise, to abhor.
Despise or Despite - To look down on, be contemptuous or disdainful of, scorn, to disdain with a haughty or arrogant contempt for what one considers beneath his dignity.
Persecution - To afflict or harass constantly so as to injure or distress; oppress cruelly, to trouble or annoy constantly.
In careful consideration of the changing spiritual and cultural values in America today, it is not by accident that all aspects of our private and national life are rapidly being altered to reflect a more secular mentality while diminishing the influence of Christian principles and practices. This is being done in spite of the blatant fact of the strong influence of Christianity in the establishment of our nation. The present-day liberal-minded, self-proclaimed statist elite defies even the irrefutable facts of history in their vicious campaign to make a final separation between God and State.
Statism - The doctrine and/or practice of vesting complete control in a centralized governmental power - our current federal bureaucracy now offers "full benefits" to the American public which includes: total planning - which removes individual responsibility, total protection - which demands total obedience, and total provision - which results in total dependence.
Their final goal is a totally secular humanistic society. In order to achieve their goal they must use all possible means to eliminate all opposition. The biggest and most formidable opposition that stands in the way of the modern-day humanists in achieving their goal is Biblical Christianity and the Christ-centered conservative-minded people of God.
In the history of the Christian Church, persecution has taken basically two different forms as listed below.
Red Martyrdom - which is the suffering of death on account of adherence to a cause and especially to oneís religious faith.
White Martyrdom - which is the suffering of all types of persecution and harassment short of death brought against a person or group on account of adherence to a cause and especially to oneís religious faith. This type of martyrdom usually takes the form of political, psychological, legal and financial harassment.
There are five steps that are generally followed by a government or ruling power in harassing any group such as the Church, which leads to outright persecution and eventual Red Martyrdom:
1. Identifying: This involves finger-pointing by the ruling authority for the purpose of placing the blame for the nationís troubles on one particular group. In 1 Kings 18:17, King Ahab identifies the prophet Elijah as being the one responsible for the drought that took place in the land of Israel. He accused Elijah by asking the question, "Art thou he that troubleth Israel?" The true body of Christ and Biblical Christianity in America today are blamed for being the greatest obstacles to the liberal establishmentís plans for a totally humanistic "utopian" society.
2. Marginalizing: By this means, the "politically incorrect" portion of the Church is looked upon as not being part of the mainstream of society. This is done by an organized smear campaign conducted by the ruling authorities through the national news media. They do this by the use of such trigger words as radical, extremists, separatists, and fringe.
3. Vilifying: By this means, the persecutors employ such methods as uttering slanderous and abusive statements against targeted groups as to cheapen and debase their worth and significance in society. The accusers need no factual evidence for their accusations, but innuendoes, insinuations, hints and making associations with other previously known undesirables of society.
4. Criminalizing: In implementing this step of persecution, it gives the state "legal" justification for arresting and incarcerating the accused. Here the state charges the persecuted with accusations of alleged criminal wrong-doing. The state naturally picks on the most vulnerable segment of the Church in order to send their threatening message to all the rest who adhere to similar views and practices. Incarceration of a few means intimidation of the many. Victimization of a government- protected group is a direct result of the incrimination of the accused. This gives the state "legal" authority to take a heavy-handed control in "protecting" its citizens. Presently, our federal government has several groups which they deem as "victims" for whom they feel responsibility to protect.
5. Terrorizing. This is the blatant and outright acts of terrorism carried out by the police powers of the state against the persecuted. These are acts of coercion by threat or by violence and are intended to create anxiety and fear in the hearts of its victims, with the purpose of silencing and neutralizing the opponents of the tyrannical government in power.
After these five steps are sufficiently implemented by the statist governmental authorities, then there is "justification" for banishment and/or elimination of those who are the object of persecution. The prime example is the persecution of the Christians of the early Church by the emperors of ancient Rome.
Our Lord plainly states to His disciples what would be one of the distinguishing signs of the end of the age: "Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my nameís sake."
--St. Matthew 24:9
Let us rest with reassurance in the words of our Lord, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee"
-- Hebrews 13:5
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"TO SERVE THE PRESENT AGE,
MY CALLING TO FULFIL,
O MAY IT ALL MY POWERS ENGAGE,
TO DO MY MASTER'S WILL!"
MAYNARD G. JAMES