Skip to comments.Are There Any Christians in America?
Posted on 04/19/2004 4:36:17 PM PDT by Destro
August 10, 2003
Are There Any Christians in America?
By T.V. Weber
So many Orthodox Christians were martyred in the twentieth century that the number of those martyred in Roman times has become comparatively insignificant. Thats right: all of the human lion food, all of the human torches, and all of the other Christians executed, from the time of the stoning of Stephen until Emperor Constantines legalization of Christianity, are a mere drop in the bucket compared to those Christians who gave their lives in the twentieth century.
Americans have no concept of the price of faith. Overfed Baptists who condemn everyone who disagrees with them, secular Methodists who rationalize and condone just about every type of evil behavior, and Catholics who cheerfully deposit funds in the collection plate so that their bishop can pay off the victims of pedophile priests, have one thing in common: they simply do not get it.
Of course, there are those groups of adherents outside of mainstream Christianity, which the mainstream refers to as cults. They have their sacred books other than the Bible, or a Jesus who is not really the Son of God, or some leader who has had private revelations. By and large, with the exception of David Koreshs Branch Davidians, these quasi-Christian organizations have been allowed to preach their take on life with little or no interference from the government or the communities where they reside.
What a complacent and naively romanticized view of Christianity we have here in America! While the focus may change from denomination to denomination, or from cult to cult, the common expectation is that the living is easythat the need for sacrifice and courage is a thing of the distant past.
Thus, it is considered a major persecution when a boss suggests that an employee should not leave a Bible openor even closedon a desk at the office. A public school that lets the French club use a classroom after school, but wont let a student-run Bible-study club do the same, becomes a major target of Christian scorn. And what torture it is when a local church is not allowed to put up its traditional Nativity display in the town square! Any of us can still place an entire reenactment scene in our own front yard!
I hasten to point out that I do not intend to demean solid American Christians of any denomination. My observations should not be interpreted in any manner that suggests I am looking for excuses to find fault with other Christians, so as to curry favor from a zealous Orthodox Christian readership. My intention is simply to point out the fact that however well intentioned other American Christians might be, they seem to be completely indifferent to the plight of their Orthodox brothers and sisters in faith.
Persecution of Orthodox Christians
When the subject of recent persecution is broached, American Christians are quick to think of Protestants in China, or Catholics in Southeast Asia and other parts of the world where there is a strong missionary presence, but somehow the plight of Christians in the Orthodox world fails to show up on the radar screen as religious persecution.
How is it that we view the Nazi holocaust against the Jews as religious persecution, but the massive Nazi exterminations of Orthodox Christians as a non-eventeven when these Christians were slaughtered alongside the Jews in the very same death camps and killing fields? Over a million Serbs, Orthodox Christians, were executed by the forces of the Third Reich; approximately 700,000 of them perished at Jasenovac death camp. Auschwitz is preserved as a memorial to the Jews who perished there, and well it should be. Even prayer by a non-Jewish religious leader, such as the Pope, is viewed with suspicion. Yet, the world stood silently by when the Croatians took a bulldozer to the remnants of Jasenovac.
When we speak of Stalins mass murders, from the 1920s through the early 1950s, we rightly attribute it to the evils of Communism. But does anyone ever notice whom Stalin was starving to death? The Communists were, by definition, atheists. Atheism and materialism were key tenets of Soviet ideology. Thus, more often than not, their victims, in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and other Slavic lands, were Orthodox Christians.
The long and agonizing destruction of Yugoslavia, particularly the last two rounds of warfare in Bosnia and Kosovo, involved considerable religious overtones. Had the world press viewed this conflict in the same terms as it did other conflicts based on religion, the war in Bosnia would have been clearly portrayed as Islamic forces fighting against Roman Catholic forces, both of which were fighting against Orthodox forces. The war in Kosovo would have been viewed as radical Islamic forces battling Orthodox forces. Instead, the wars were cast in terms of racial struggles.
Western reporters were astounded when Serbs in Kosovo would offer weapons or protection to their Shiptar neighbors, whom the Western press called Albanians, or even Kosovars. It never occurred to the reporters that there might be a reason why some of the Shiptars got along well with their Serbian neighbors in Kosovo, while others did not. The fact that Christian neighbors might offer one another protection from attack by Islamic extremists was well beyond the intelligencein either sense of the wordof any American reporter prior to September 11, 2001.
But are there any Christians in America? Any Christian should have realized that the Kosovo War was a conflict between Christian Serbia and Muslim extremists who have slowly invaded Kosovothe Serbian Holy Landand claimed it as their own. Serbian Americans, Greek Americans, Macedonian Americans, Russian Americans, and so forth, seemed to be the only ones in this part of the world who got it.
So, a more interesting question would be: are there any real Christians in America, other than the Orthodox? If so, why did these Christians not object to Clintons war on Christianity in the Balkans?
What Happens During Other Religious Conflicts?
For many years, in the view of the American public, the Troubles in Northern Ireland represented the quintessential conflict based upon religious differences. But on a deeper level, it is not a question of religion, but a question of British occupation of Ireland, that has always motivated the conflict. Yet, as news reportage would have it, one side is described as Roman Catholic, while the other side is characterized as Protestant without any focus on denomination or on the tenets of their beliefs. This conflict is primarily a British problem, but it has become a big issue to the U.S. government, as well.
What does the world communitysuch as it isdo about the problem in Northern Ireland? They encourage the warring sides to make peace. How does the world community enforce the peace? It applies diplomatic pressure.
There never is any use of force by theU.S. dominatedworld community. And heres why: There simply are too many Roman Catholics and too many Protestants in the United States to admit that possibility.
Another hot spot of religious war is Israel. The Western press seems to endlessly belabor the fact that the Israelis are Jews, but, at least until the September 11 attack, they barely seemed to notice that the vast majority of the Arabs who are claming status as Palestinians are Muslims. Of course, any remark to that effect invites critics to haul out a few dozen non-Muslims who side with the Muslim Palestinians. After all, whenever people choose sides, there are always exceptions. Every American who finished grade school should know that even the makeup of the opposing armies in American War for Independence was not that cut-and-dried. George Washington crossed the Delaware to defeat German (then known as Prussian and Hessian), not British, troops. It was the French forces, not American forces, who caused the British to throw in the towel after Cornwallis surrendered. So, spare me the tale about your uncle who claims to be a Unitarian or whatever, but who lives in Gaza and supports the Palestinians.
The Middle East peace process has been a major part of the agenda that American Presidents have been expected to manage, ever since the days when Jimmy Carter roamed the White House and complained that the U.S. Presidency was too big of a job for one man to handle.
Once again, do we ever threaten to bomb either the Israelis or the Palestinians into submission? No. For one thing, there are enough Jews in America to keep the government from bombing the Israelis. Similarly, there are a number of reasons why we dont bomb the Palestinians into submission: there are too many anti-Semites in the U.S.; we are too devoted to protecting Islam, so that Muslim countries do not shut off the flow of oil; and too many of those petrodollars have found their way into American politics. Anyone who doubts that the latter is a factor should think back to Abscam. It is simply too easy to influence American leaders with campaign contributions. Of course, the Clinton presidencyand the Dole candidacyare clear evidence that nobody cares all that much when American politicians are bought by foreign dollars.
Clintons Balkans Policy Was a War Against Christianity
I recently attended a Christian writers conference, as much of my work is potentially salable in that area. I knew that the where-do-you-go-to-church type of question would come up. Having had considerable exposure to both the Evangelical and Roman Catholic worlds prior to marrying a Serbian-American and converting to Orthodoxy, I thought that I knew the Christian world fairly well. So, I expected that I would need to explain what the Eastern Orthodox Church was. While little else has changed in Evangelical Protestant circles, it seems that they now know that Orthodox Christianity exists.
It may have helped that a new Orthodox church building had been built across the railroad tracks from the Wheaton College Campus, where the conference was being held. Whatever the reason, but it was fairly refreshing so be recognized as an Orthodox without confusion. When the subject came up, I merely reached for the Orthodox cross around my neck and said Orthodox. No one mistakenly added the word Greek; as it had once been commonly assumed, throughout most of the U.S., that only Greeks could be Orthodox. They treated me like everyone else; one woman even commented, That is the original Christianity.
So, it appears that Evangelical Christians tend to know more about Orthodox Christians than typically did only a few years ago. While the American news media can confuse anything, those who follow world events tend to have a good idea what religions are practiced by various groups of people. This is especially true for those in government.
Reflecting back on the events of the Clinton presidency, it should be obvious exactly where he and Hillary have always stood on the issue of Christianity. In addition to Bills womanizing and Hillarys efforts to make herself appear palatable to gay and lesbian voters, their record on Christianity is clear. Hilarys defense has always been that she and Bill have been plagued by a vast-right wing conspiracy. It does not take too much deep thinking to translate vast right-wing conspiracy as a code word for the so-called Christian Right. While it is obvious that the Clintons are at war with the Christian Right, perhaps they are also at war with any Christian who is not pro-Clinton. So, with the exception of pro-adultery Christians and pro-homosexual Christians, the Clintons have no use for Christianity.
Orthodox Christians must pose a particular problem for the Clintons. There is no chance that Orthodox Christianity will alter its tenets to fit the leftist agenda sponsored by the Clintons.
So, what is the most politically expedient way for the Clintons to display the deepest possible contempt for Christianity? Had they gone any further to support anti-Christian policies in America, the so-called Christian Right would have had tremendous ammunition for opposing the Clintons and for raising money for Republican candidates. Elderly hypocrites who had been willing sacrifice all other principles to support Clinton because he would protect their Social Security paymentssomething they were in no danger of losingwould no longer be able to do so. There is a final type of retirement where Social Security, pensions, and other earthly assets are not needed.
But singling out and targeting one fairly small group of Orthodox Christiansincluding many who were more or less estranged from the faith as a result of Communist occupationwould be easy. There would be no major backlash at home; American Christians have no concept of the foundations of their faith. They have no understanding of persecution.
Martyrs often are persecuted for both religious and political reasons. Joan of Arc has been a popular topic for films in recent years. The Catholic Church executed her during the Middle Ages. In the early 20th century, the same Catholic Church decided to consider her a saint, as well as a martyr.
The Orthodox Church recently recognized two martyred saints who were murdered after Kosovo had been turned over to the KFOR occupation forces. KFOR has given the KLA free rein to persecute the Serbs who had been left behind. Without Clinton, there would have been two fewer saints, and, at least, two more living Serbian Orthodox priests in Kosovo. Of course, many other Serbs, Shiptars, and people of many other nationalities lost their lives due to Clintons actions.
While we are micro-inspecting George W. Bushs reasons for invading Iraq, we seem to ignore the fact that Clintons reasons for the Kosovo War and ongoing occupation were, and are, completely bogus. During more than four years of occupation, we still do not have a shred of evidence that any Serbs did anything wrong to any of the Shiptars. Yet, there is no groundswell of opinion in American demanding an investigation, nor the withdrawal of our troops from the Balkans.
Clinton was able to condemn the Serbsa Christian peopleand virtually no one has come to their defense. He was able to use American resources to create an establishment of religion in Kosovo, namely Islam. Likewise, he has used American resources to prohibit the free exercise of religion in much of Kosovo, namely Christianity.
Clearly, the war in Kosovo was, and still is, a war against Christianity. Yet, no major Christian organization other than the Orthodox has taken a stand against the Kosovo War and the continued occupation of Kosovo, a province of Serbia, by KLA and KFOR forces.
Therefore, I must ask again: Are there any Christians in America?
It won't be made at all if nobody sticks around to hear it. The Orthodox already know all this. It's the Heterodox that need to be made aware. Running them off with insults is probably not the smartest way to get our message across.
Are There Any Christians in America?
That is a good question. It has an answer:
34"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved
you, so you must love one another. 35By this all men will know that
you are my disciples, if you love one another."
[In case someone imagines that we are only required our "brother," this verse:]
27"But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those
who hate you, 28bless those who curse you, pray for those who
Therefore, if Mr. Weber wishes to find if there are any Christians in America, he only needs to search for those who LOVE each other, AND their ENEMIES, also.
It think that the reason Weber has not used this particular BIBLICAL yardstick, is that doing so would invite a similar inspection of the entire Balkan peninsula. There are undoubtedly individual Christians, there, who love their enemies, but, if there is a substantial GROUP who both practices and teaches this, I would like to hear about it.
Many of the Serbian Orthodox monasteries gave sanctuary to fleeing muslims during the earlier wars. In March they had their monasteries burned to the ground and were nearly killed by the same people whom they had helped to stay alive.
I rejoice at this excellent report, and to any report from the Balkans which demonstrates any compassion toward one's (perceived) enemies.
In March they had their monasteries burned to the ground and were nearly killed by the same people whom they had helped to stay alive.
Unfortunately, this report of vengeance against those who have been kind is much more common. It is this kind of thing which perpetuates the continuing cycle of violence there.
Although we know that Muslims are not taught Christ's command to "Love Your Enemies," it is my understanding that neither Orthodox or Roman Catholics (in the Balkans) are (effectively) taught to Love Their Enemies." Until the leaders of both the Orthodox and Roman churches COMMAND their flocks (and their local shepherds) to utterly cease to harbor hatred and vengeance in their hearts, the Balkans will continue to be a "hiss and a byword."
Lest anyone think that I imagine that such is the case only in the Balkans, allow me to suggest the obvious example of the problem of Ireland. There, again, the religious authorities on both sides have failed to utterly condemn violence and vengeance and bigotry, against the "enemy." There are probably many other places, of which I am unaware, where this kind of problem is happening.
p.s. Maybe, it can be seen right here in FR, in some of the more rancorous "religious" discussions.
p.p.s. I cannot not exclude myself, from being guilty of this attitude.
Tito was extraordinarily effective in his 35-year struggle tomarginalize the Orthodox Church. Throughout the Tito era, it was a major disadvantage to putone's toe in the church door. Those who wanted to advance in life had to join the CommunistParty, in which atheism was obligatory.
"It was thus a weakened Serbian Orthodox Church that had to define its response to the eventswhich tore Yugoslavia to shreds in the nineties. Serbian priests I have interviewed estimatethat perhaps five percent of the population is engaged in the Church in a significant way, whilethe vast majority is unbaptized. There are few cities in Europe more secular than Belgrade."
"Few bishops east or west have spoken so tirelessly against ethnic division, hatred and war. "Let us grasp the teaching of the Holy Apostle Paul, that one cannot accomplish good by evilmeans -- a lesson our mothers taught us through the ages, warning us that evil never bringsgood," he said on one occasion. "Oh, that God would help us to understand that we are humanbeings and that we must live as human beings, so that peace would come into our country andbring an end to the killing." The principle was summed up in a statement issued by the Serbian bishops on March 23, twodays before the NATO attack: "The way of nonviolence and cooperation is the only wayblessed by God."
Still more significant are the special prayers the Serbian Church added to theHoly Liturgy early in the breakdown of Yugoslavia, including this petition: For all those whocommit injustice against their neighbors, whether by causing sorrow to orphans, spillinginnocent blood or by returning hatred for hatred, that God will grant them repentance,enlighten their minds and their hearts and illumine their souls with the light of love eventoward their enemies, let us pray to the Lord.
The church in Serbia is struggling to overcome years under atheism, just as the Russian church is. But you can be sure that the majority of church leaders in Serbia are teaching love for all, including enemies. Last March a large group of angry Serbs began to burn a mosque in Belgrade and a bishop of the church stepped in front of them, alone, and spoke to them and asked them to stop. It worked. I have the story in the press around somewhere - it is an awesome read, I think. The courage of the bishop who stepped up in front of this mob, while the police declined to do so, was very inspiring.
Much love to you DG.
"While lamenting those closest to us by faith and blood, for all the hardship that came upon them, destroyed homes, churches, irretrievable destroyed treasures of historical and cultural significance, we lament the Croatian people also, for their misfortune and suffering as well as the destruction of their property and churches, their cultural and historical monuments, knowing that had we been better Christians and better men, this disaster could have bypassed us."
In 1989, the then Bishop Pavle was personally beaten by several Albanian youths in Kosovo. The extent of his injuries required nearly 3 months of hospitalization. However, in the spirit of Christian forgiveness, he refused to press charges.
We wish to commend the Serbian Orthodox Church for maintaining a strong voice in support of peace, reconciliation and inter-religious tolerance in the midst of such violence and tension. The courageous and Christ-like actions of Metropolitan AMFILOHIJE on March 17 that saved the historic Bajrakli mosque from complete destruction were a powerful sign of the Serbian Church's commitment to a peaceful and sustainable solution to the current instability. Against a background of anger and temptation his actions provided a potent witness to the words of our Lord: "In the world you have tribulation, but be of good cheer: I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)"
"The most serious unrest was in front of the Serbian government building, the United States embassy and the seventeenth century Bajrakli mosque, the only mosque in Belgrade. The mob broke through the police line, then set the mosque on fire just after midnight.
Fresh police, firefighters and ambulance crews, who arrived shortly after the fire broke out, did not dare to come closer to the mosque in fear of the mob, which mostly consisted of young fans from Belgrade's sports clubs. Several reporters were also injured and their cameras destroyed.
Soon after the fire broke out, the Orthodox Metropolitan Amfilohije (Radovic) of Montenegro and the Littoral came out to the front of the mob and pleaded with them to stop the violence. Then, surrounded by a small number of people protecting him, he went to the police and firefighters standing nearby, asking them to react and preserve "what could be preserved". "The children are playing dangerous games, but grown men should react," he told them. After initial hesitation, the firefighters did intervene, so the Belgrade mosque, which is "under state protection", was saved from complete destruction.
Hamdija Ephendi Jusufspahic, a retired leader of Serbia's Islamic community, told the press later in the night that he was unable to enter the mosque and that this was "a terrible day for us all". He also thanked Metropolitan Amfilohije for his intervention.
Posted by Gone_Postal to chance33_98 On News/Activism 05/23/2004 2:28:51 PM EDT #54 of 86
The boldness of Satan versus the meekness of most Christians. Very rarely do I take advantage of this forum to share my personal views, but today is an exception. If there is one thing in this world that upsets me more than anything else, it is the bold way that satan shares his message of sin with this world, and how afraid most Christians are to share our message! Satan brings the world a message that is designed to kill, steal, and destroy lives. He has NO FEAR in presenting that message as boldly as he is able to.
Yet we, those who have placed our faith in Christ, who have the ONLY true message of everlasting life, who have the ONLY message of hope for this hurting and lost world, meekly, almost ashamedly, present our message in the most low-key form possible! WHY??????
Satan knows the weaknesses of man. He has man's nature down to a science. Greed, sex, alcohol, drugs, gambling, food are the most base weaknesses. So satan uses the modern day media to flaunt his message of "greed is good," sex is great any way that you can get it no matter what form it takes, alcohol is socially acceptable, drugs are the "in thing," gambling is just harmless entertainment, and food is a necessity of life that we should enjoy no matter how much of it we eat.
These messages permeate the world that we live in. We are bombarded endlessly with them by the media to a point that we accept them as fact. Satan knows that this strategy works because there will be nobody bold enough to counter or challenge his message. His message in the mainstream media goes mostly unchallenged. HE REALIZES THAT VERY FEW CHRISTIANS IN A SECULAR FORUM WILL CHALLENGE WHAT HE SAYS!
The FACT IS, greed is NOT good, it is evil. Sex is designed ONLY in the confines of marriage. Alcohol affects your brain and is a crutch that many turn to, to numb their way thru life. Drugs are an escape from reality that will destroy you. Gambling is a misuse of the resources that God has entrusted to you and is poor stewardship. Food is necessary, but only when you consume the right kinds of food and the right amounts. Who out there is telling THIS SIDE, the TRUE SIDE, GOD'S SIDE of this story to the world at large???? Answer...not many!!!!
My friend, it is time for God's people to stand up, to say, "DEVIL, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH." Our churches are just as much to blame!!! Many don't even deal with the needs of their congregations, let alone the world outside the doors of the church. It is time to stand up and accept the responsibility God has given to those in leadership, those who call themselves Christians, and take His message of hope and everlasting life through Jesus Christ to this lost and sin-filled world. How can the devil be so bold with lies, and God's people so timid with the truth????