Christians Persecuted by the Gay! Colbert says it best.

A post on homosexuality, LGBT, lesbian and gay stuff and the Lutheran Church of Australia.

I remember being a teenager in a youth discussion group. The pastor was taking us through Foxe*s book of Martyrs. On mature reflection it appears to be more a piece of political propaganda than a work of historical accuracy. (It is Interesting that a different Fox has taken up that mantle in recent times.)

But… and here’s the thing… we LOVED it. The stories were quite horrible. Christians burnt alive at the stake. Christians V lions in the coliseum. But we loved them. Why? I’m not sure. But I do remember thinking that there was something noble about these persecuted people.  Perhaps Christians have always liked to think of themselves as *the persecuted *.  Perhaps the idea of suffering unjustly at the hands others helps Christians to more closely identify with Christ.

But… and here’s the next thing… Perhaps because of our penchant for being Christ-like sufferers Christians find it extremely difficult admit when we are the ones who have been the oppressors. In fact, we find it so hard to acknowledge when we have been the persecutors that we consistently fall into a kind of self-delusion. We develop a strange ability to see ourselves as the victimised and the persecuted even when we are the ones in the position of power bringing harm to others.

I heard a striking example of this recently. Malala Yousafzai, is a Muslim girl  from Afghanistan who was shot in the head by the Taliban when she was 14 because of her outspoken advocacy for women*s rights to education.  She was recently interviewed on Jon Stewart*s Daily Show. Watch Stewart’s awestruck admiration of Milala*s grace and courage.

Some Christian radio commentators picked up on the interview the following day. Rather than simply celebrating that special moment they couldn’t resist turning it into something nasty.  They doubted whether a 14yo Christian would receive such acclamation. They replayed a segment from one of Stewarts 2005 shows where he said…

Does the Christian persecution complex have an expiration date coz you*ve all been in charge since… what was that guy*s name?… Constantine, in 312AD. All I’m saying is… enjoy your success.

To which the Christian commentators replied…

I guess he’s never heard of the crusades. The crusades were actually DEFENSIVE against the muslim hoards who were overtaking Europe and some of the horrific things we hear happening by the Islamists today, they were widespread during those times.

To which every rational and moderately informed person on the planet replies…

What the ?!

(Reader, if you are unsure about where the Christian Crusades of the Holy Lands took place… just google it, although the title should provide a clue)

So, a wonderful muslim girl*s act of courage and grace is identified with  *horrific acts* of the *islamists today*  and *muslim hordes overtaking Europe*

Sigh.

The marriage equality debate is full of this twisted logic. The leadership of the Christian Church in Australia including the leadership of my own church enjoy a position of real power and influence in this country. They have, for decades, in a coordinated and well-funded manner spoken against our LGBT brothers and sisters labelling them as sinful, disordered and diseased.

But things have changed. Others have voiced their support for LGBT rights and equality and have begun to publicly question the Church. Some have even gone so far as to call the church*s views bigoted and homophobic.

The churches response? Rather than entering into genuine dialogue with those who have been hurt by their teachings,  the Church have pulled up the drawbridge, manned the ramparts, dug deeply into their persecution complex storehouse and cried *Discrimination.*

Allow me a brief word to these religious leaders.

Dear Friends.

You are not suffering discrimination or persecution.

There is no doubt that you are hurting and feeling aggrieved.  But consider carefully where your grief comes from. You have lost something. You have lost the political power that you once enjoyed over those you consider to be living *sinful lifestyles*, gay people.

In years gone by the rest of society agreed with you. Now they don’t. You may be sad about that. You may grieve the loss of power that once enjoyed but you have not been discriminated against.

Not only are you free to continue speaking your damaging words to my gay friends,  the government gives you a tax exempt status to say them.  More than that, the government specifically exempts you from anti discrimination laws that place a legal requirement on all other employers in australia to act with non-discriminatory decency in its employment practices.

Therefore, not only are you free to speak harmful words to my gay friends, your are even free to sack them from employment in your churches and schools if ever they pluck up enough courage to come out.

When you enjoy such exclusive privileges and yet claim persecution because others strongly challenge your views… that’s just a little bit obscene.

Sincerely, Neil.

As evidenced by  Jon Stewart, the church*s persecution complex has been noticed and it has made them a laughing-stock. I don’t have a problem with that. The ridiculous should probably be ridiculed. I am, however, concerned that the church*s persecution complex risks making  a laughing-stock out of Jesus. The things Jesus said and did were really very cool. He should never be clouded by the ridiculous.

I said earlier that the Church*s persecution complex might grow out of their desire to identify with Christ. But it really has nothing to do with Christ-like suffering.  Christ suffered because he stood for the  last, the lost, the least and the little ones (1.) He suffered because he stood against those who used their power to exclude rather than include. He suffered because he cared a great deal about the needs of the person in front of him and very little about the religious rules that those in power had drawn from their holy book. To those who act in such a genuinely Christ-like manner and suffer because of it, Jesus says…

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5)

then he added…

But if they insult you because you are being a self-righteous, controlling, dick… then stop being a self-righteous, controlling dick. (Note. Most of the earliest and most reliable manuscripts do not include this section.)

Anyway… as usual… Colbert says it best.

1.( I have borrowed this phrase  from recently deceased Episcopalian author Robert Farrar Capon).