Photo - from Vicki Nunn
One would not have seen any secular or religious news in the past two years not to ask the question - is religious persecution closing in?
I found these remarks interesting. "A genuine persecution of Christians does appear to be on the horizon. Anti-Christian sentiment has been growing exponentially in recent years. Losing jobs, losing standing in society, losing tax breaks for Christian businesses, fines for businesses and individuals, even some arrests ... all those things are already starting to happen."
Christians and conservatives of all stripes are being pushed out of the public square, silenced and openly discriminated against, as described by Princeton Professor Robert George in his famous 2014 speech. (How Bad Will It Get? Bracing for Religious Persecution in the West, lifesitenews.com)
We know the obvious places for persecution.The situation in Russia does not surprise. New anti-evangelism laws in Russia, bans discussion of the faith outside churches or in government legislated places.
Donald Ossewaarde, a Baptist minister and his wife Ruth fled to America after they were confronted by police, and accused of "unlawfully conducting missionary activity."Their crimes were holding Bible meetings in their home and posting public notices inviting people to their studies.
But that's Russia, you say. OK! What about Canada? Last year the city of Toronto caused a storm when they refused a prominent Christian group permission to hold their annual music festival in a public space.
A city official Natalie Belman told the group singing the name of Jesus was tantamount to "proselytizing' which she said is against city policy.
"If you're praising Jesus, 'praise the Lord,' and 'there's no God like Jehovah,' that type of thing, that's proselytizing," she said. The city had serious concern over the song "Days of Elijah" because of the line 'There's no God like Jehovah.'
And America? Just a few weeks ago a liberal magazine advised the Republican Party they must 'dump' Jesus in the coming elections. The advice ignores the 70 percent of the US population who identify as Christians. However the advice was said to help the politicians reach agnostics, atheists and the 'believe-in-nothing' group said to be 22.8 percent and growing. (Be interesting to watch this)
Ken Ham is the President and CEO of Answers in Genesis. He suggested the Bible may soon be banned in the Western world. He told how prison chaplains were being forced to resign because they quoted bible verses.
"This is an alarming example of how quickly Christians are losing religious freedom across the West. In this case, it wasn't even acceptable for this chaplain to use God's Word during a chapel service — a completely voluntary service where those attending would expect to hear from God's Word. It won't be long before we see this happening in other countries, including America," Ham said.
His forecast was accurately prophetic. The America Library Assn. last year announced the Bible was among their Top Ten Banned Books of 2015. The Bible was listed as No. 6.
Just last August the Red Cross instructed reserve City Marshall Clay Higgins, he could not pray with flood survivors, in Louisiana. He planned to pray for a man who just lost his home. Instead the officer was asked to leave the shelter. At some point during the visit a volunteer approached Higgins and mentioned there was a problem.
"He said the Red Cross had an issue with me being there," Higgins said. "So I asked him what the problem was. He looked down at my Bible and he gestured and said, 'They have a problem with that.'"
Last March a Bondi public school principal banned 'Easter' from the Easter Parade. The same restrictions were attempted in 2011 but that caused an outrage. This year the parents have been too scared to comment, according to a report by The Australian.
Last year in the Kentucky (USA) school district 'Charlie Brown Christmas' had to be performed with no Bible passages and no Jesus.
The Kentucky school district ordered all references to religion in class time and during activities banned.
We know there are many nations closed to the gospel.
Gideons International have a list of countries where they are not allowed to operate:
Afghanistan, Algeria, China (People's Republic), Comoros, Djibouti, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Maldives, Mauritania, Morocco, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Yemen.
The nations we regard as democracies are cause for serious concern. We have reason to turn to the Bible and to Jesus for wisdom in the face of this challenge.
In the gospel of John, Jesus warns His disciples the world's alienation for Him actually reveals how alienated they are for God and His Kingdom. (John chapter 15, verses 1-17)He follows by saying that this animosity will turn on believers. There is a Kingdom which worships and adores Jesus, and there is a world in ferocious animosity to His divine nature and wisdom.
We are instructed the 'we are not of this world.' (John chapter 17, verse 16)
The Bible is clear. The more we are like Jesus and the more we share His name the greater target we become.
In the midst of this climate stronger Christians must stand with and encourage the newbies. Christian parents in particular must be role models to their children and guide them through the turbulence of our present times.
Years ago Bob Dylan sang 'You gotta serve somebody."
Even earlier Joshua said it very accurately. "But if you refuse to serve the LORD, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the LORD." (Joshua chapter 24, verse 15)
The temptation is to live as a worldly Christian.The clear distinction is starting to be revealed and none can ignore it.
Ron Ross is a Middle East consultant for United Christian Broadcasters (Vision FM). Previously he was radio news editor for Bridges for Peace in Jerusalem, Israel.
His career started at WINTV (Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)