Sunday, November 17, 2013

Not free to be Christian

If you are able to live your Christian faith through public worship, Bible reading, and speaking your beliefs, be thankful. Others have not been so fortunate.

Former NFL Offensive Player of the Year Craig James said, “I’d love to do it” when offered a one-hour show on Fox Sports. A “very flattering, complimentary” press release was issued listing Craig’s credentials stating he would be an asset to their coverage. He did the show on Saturday night and received a telephone call on Sunday evening stating his services would no longer be needed. Was this because his on-air performance was sub-standard? No, it was because Fox Sports became aware that Craig had previously made a comment while running for Senate that he believes a marriage should be between a man and a woman. [1] Did Craig slander homosexuals or advocate violence or discrimination? No, he simply stated his viewpoint, based on his Christian beliefs, which is apparently not permitted in America any longer.

Today, as I write this, the Associated Press reported the cancelation of the weeklong festival of Mar Girgis, which had been held annually for more than a century, attracting up to two million Coptic Christians from across Egypt. The government canceled the event fearing it would be a target for Islamic militants. Christians in Egypt make up about 10% of the population and recently Islamist “Mobs torched, looted or destroyed at least 40 churches.” [2] Egyptian Christians simply want to be free to follow their beliefs, but face repression from radicals in the Muslim majority.

A third example, reported on Nov. 12, 2013, involved public executions in North Korea, some of which were for offenses such as owning a Bible. Other offenses included watching South Korean movies. South Korean newspaper JoongAng Ilbo reported that as many as 80 so-called criminals, in seven different cities, were executed. In the city of Wonsan, victims’ heads were covered with bags, tied to stakes and shot to death. Authorities gathered a crowd of as many as 10,000 in Shinpoong Stadium, some of whom were children, to watch. [3]

Censorship of Christians began in the 1st century when Peter and John were commanded by the Jewish rulers, elders and scribes to not speak or teach in the name of Jesus (Acts 4:18). Two millennia later believers are still being told to sit down and shut up. Censorship may take the form of violence or, more likely in the West, financial and legal repercussions. Will we have the courage to say, as did Peter and John, ““Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19-20)

[1] Marvin Olasky, “Christians need not apply?” World Magazine, November 16, 2013.
[2] “Egypt’s Christians Find Little to Celebrate”, Associated Press, reported in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, Nov. 17, 2013.
[3] “North Korea publicly executes 80, some for videos or Bibles, report says”,, reported Nov. 12, 2013.