We Must Speak Out More Boldly on Behalf of Persecuted Christians

Christians around the world are dying for Our Lord. We cannot be silent about it.

Pope Francis led a prayer vigil for peace in Syria in St. Peter's Square on September 7, 2013. (Lauren Cater/Catholic News Agency)
Pope Francis led a prayer vigil for peace in Syria in St. Peter's Square on September 7, 2013. (Lauren Cater/Catholic News Agency) (photo: Screenshot)

Have American Christians abandoned their persecuted brothers and sisters around the globe?

Anyone watching this presidential campaign might be justified in thinking that we have. Does anyone recall hearing a question and answers about the ongoing genocide in the Middle East in the debates we’ve seen thus far? Has it been raised by Christian/politico-religious leaders when they are deal-brokering with the candidates?

Not that I know of.

Meanwhile, Christians are dying in an all-out genocide in the Middle East. Even where they are not being systematically slaughtered and sold into slavery, they are subjected to all the horrors that people face when they have no civil rights and are judged less than human by the larger population. This includes rape (which is a form of lynching), murder, systematic theft and various brutalities; all without effective rights to redress in the courts.

This ongoing brutality against Christians is rife in China, which is our great trading partner, India, Pakistan, much of Africa, North Korea, and just about any country which has a Muslim majority. Attacks on Christian civil liberties are also occurring in Russia.

This election is the single best opportunity that the American people will have to bring their viewpoints before whomever our next president will be for the next four years. Why? Because he/she needs us right now. For the next few weeks, we matter. After that, not so much.

Congress, which is to say the partisan grandstand machine, has stepped down from governance in what appears to be a permanent dereliction of duty. Pretty much the only thing that Congress focuses on is the next election and how best to use legislation and “hearings” to dramatize “their” side of whatever issue they’re using at the moment to attack the “other” side of the aisle. The point of this is always the next election. It is never about doing anything for the people of this country.

The single exception to this determined do-nothing refusal to do their jobs is whenever their corporate masters want something. Then, they jump up, click their heels and get to work.

This unconcern for America and the American people on the part of Congress has created a vacuum which the Imperial Presidency has been all-too-eager to fill. What has resulted is that we are not so much electing a chief executive as we are choosing who our next elected dictator will be.

American presidents ignore the Constitution and make war at will. They issue executive orders that, coupled with overreaching Supreme Court decisions, end up being the only legislative initiatives we see. They have the power to launch an all-out nuclear attack that would kill everything, everywhere. That makes them more like elected dictators with every passing election.

The power of the American presidency is out of control. And what’s even scarier, we have veered toward out-of-control candidates for the office.

No wonder that the American people, including committed Christians, are a bit gobsmacked. We’ve been slapped around by the incredibly bad behavior of both these candidates. On top of that, we are being flogged mercilessly by various advocates to believe things that are flat-out untrue.

It reminds me a bit of the old Star Trek Next Generation episode where Captain Picard was imprisoned and subjected to brainwashing. His torturer showed him a certain number of lights, then told him that the number of lights was different from what they actually were. If Picard insisted on the truth, the torturer shocked him. This was designed to break Picard and make him say and believe whatever the torturer said.

This is more than a little bit like what the American people have been subjected to for a very long time on many issues and ideas. It is a big part of the politically correct ethos. It is also, sadly, how we are being treated in this election by people who want to shame/bully/terrorize us into voting “their” way.

I’m going through all this to explain, both to you and to myself, why we have been silent throughout this campaign about the tidal wave of Christian persecution in the world. It is especially flabbergasting that we have said nothing and done nothing to raise the issue of the ongoing genocide against Christians in the Middle East.

I don’t think that this is because we are immoral and uncaring. I think it’s because we’ve been flogged into semi-hysteria by the media, the candidates and a few of our religious leaders. We’ve been lied to so much in this campaign and we’ve suffered such acute cognitive dissonance by being forced to choose one of two candidates, that it has damaged us emotionally and intellectually.

We are, in its simplest manifestation, gobsmacked by being lied to fifty times in a single conversation, candidates whose personal morality is lower than that of an insect, and revolving-door positions on the issues. We are exhausted from finding ways to excuse and ignore things that we should never excuse and ignore. We are like Picard, being punished and threatened if we won’t say that the plain truth of the situation that we see is not what we see.

But we are Christians, not lost and battered political pawns. We are children of the living God. We are heirs to eternal life. And, if we will but accept it, we have and can feel the peace that passes all understanding.

I’ve been through a lot of things worse than this election in my young life. I’ve had professionals who were paid a lot of money to work day and night to successfully lie to me. I’ve been threatened, flattered, cajoled and bullied to believe what I knew was wrong. I’ve been shunned, picketed, censured, and called just about every name in the book for refusing to say that the truth was anything other than the truth. I’ve faced death a couple of times in situations that had nothing to do with politics. I’ve married my love, raised children and buried loved ones. I have, in short, lived. 

Here’s what I’ve learned:

1. Jesus is always good.

2. You can count on Him.

3. I am not called to succeed. I am called to do my part.

4. There is no reason to be afraid. Ever.

I’ve written over and over that we must follow Jesus instead of the little-g gods of politics. Every time I write that, a few people react with rage and abusive insults directed toward me. I always regard this as a confession of sorts that they are in fact following little-g gods and do not intend to change. I was talking with a family member about it last night, and he said, “It’s just evil,” as, indeed, it is.

I’ve also written that following Christ means choosing to be sane. Following Jesus, if you actually do it, places you outside the artificial sturm und drang of the constant flogging we are getting from the media. The hysteria goes away. Suddenly, you can see through it to the games that are being played against you.

Following Jesus immunizes you against the manipulations and lies, the screaming and shouting, that have become the American way of discussing serious policy issues.

Suddenly, you see that the preposterous lies of these candidates are lies, plain and simple. You recognize that their outrageous behavior is insane and barbaric. And you know that you do not have to lie to yourself about what you see to be a good Christian.

You don’t have to believe these candidates. You don’t have to pretend that they are good people or that they are honest or that they will keep their word. All you have to do is hold your nose and choose one of them for your vote.

Following and trusting Jesus frees us from the necessity of trusting the nuts of this nutty world. We don’t need them. We are safe in His arms.

Jesus gives us the peace that passes all understanding. He can make us sane while the world around us is insane. He will also focus us on what matters.

Our brothers and sisters in Christ are suffering and dying all over the world and we have not raised their plight as an issue in this election. That is one of the things that matters. It is something that we, who are Americans and who have the clear power to do so, can bring to the attention of the presidential candidates.

There are a few weeks left before this election is over. Then, we are going to be faced with either President Hillary Clinton or President Donald Trump. We will need faith and the peace of Christ to deal with what’s coming after that. 

In the meantime, we have a few weeks left to make sure that we do not fail in our responsibility to speak out for persecuted Christians. We need to make this an issue now, when these two candidates need us.

Christians are dying for Our Lord right now, as I type this. We cannot be silent about it.

Nicaraguan police place Bishop Rolando José Álvarez under house arrest Aug. 4 at the diocesan chancery in Matagalpa, Nicaragua.

Nicaragua Needs More

EDITORIAL: Although the Vatican has offered a muted response, Pope Francis must do more to condemn human-rights abuses in Nicaragua before the Ortega regime exploits papal silence to justify its immoral actions.