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It Feels Nice to be Persecuted, Doesn't It

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posted on Aug, 29 2010 @ 12:46 PM
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I'm not sure if this is the right forum for this, but I think it fits. This will probably be divided into two parts. The first discussing the state of Christianity in America and the second addressing the idea of persecution.

Persecution is strange subject. On the surface, everyone will agree that it's wrong to persecute people for their beliefs and that nobody likes to be persecuted. The thing is, at times groups LOVE to be persecuted.

Now, I'm not talking about things like genocide, labor camps or the denial of rights. A better phrase might be "perceived persecution." It can most easily be seen in modern religious groups and political parties.

Perceived persecution usually occurs when a group isn't a prominent, strong or popular as they once were. Religion is still a big power in the US and throughout the world, but it's also true that it's an institution that is dying a slow death.

You can debate that. Many polls are showing that church attendance is increasing slightly. More than that, over the past 18 years fluctuations in church attendence have stayed mostly in a ten percentage point range. Now, that site makes a very good point that polls aren't reliable. People misrespresent themselves for various reasons, maybe they feel guilty or maybe they're responding how they intend to act in the future. This wikipedia article suggests some different numbers, almost half of what the Gallup polls report.

It's also hard to say that church is making a comeback. The past two years have been very hard economically and in times of hardship it's no uncommon or unreasonable for people to seek solace, maybe using methods they have previously abandoned.

The slow death of religious America is not coming from the adults. It's coming from the youth. When I was young and went to church, the pews were filled with 95% elderly folks. This is not uncommon for the rest of churches in America as you can see here and here.

Now, I'm not trying to insinuate that there are no young religious people left. I know quite a few who are young and faithful Christians, Jews and Muslims. They do seem to be a minority though and that is what scares the religious the most.

The elderly will die sooner rather than later and a large source of income and devotion will go with them. The middle-aged believers will go the same route in forty or so years. The problem is obvious. While some young people will return to the church and some have always remained, they won't be as large as previous generations. Those who don't go won't raise their children in the church and the children of those who do go will most likely go through the same thinning that we're seeing now.

Granted, some of this is speculation, but I think even the religious among us can agree that a depleting flock is a major fear for the religious. What comes next will probably be less agreed upon.




posted on Aug, 29 2010 @ 12:46 PM
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So, you're a faltering institution and you have a few more problems. Unlike corporate entities you can't change your product. Well, you can, sort of. Over time the ideas and conceptions of religious ideas can shift and you can tweak the doctrine to be more modern. What they can’t do is make large, quick overhauls. You’ll alienate older members and give non-believers more fodder. They’ll say, “How quickly you change your divine order, how strange.”

Religious orders are in a bind. They can’t and shouldn’t admit defeat and they definitely can’t blame themselves. What do you do? You shift the blame. It’s not your fault your ideas are losing popularity, it’s the war on religion!

You can see many religious people and entities claiming they’re under attack by governments, by cultures or by society at large. Often times the boogeymen they create are ridiculous. They’ll get in a hubbub about not being able to say “Merry Christmas,” “under God” or by losing things like the ten commandments in court houses.

First off, the non-religious who make a stink about “under God” or “Merry Christmas” are just as ridiculous. In truth, they’re kind of jerks, just looking for something to complain about. I know, I know, sometimes the “Merry Christmas” complaints come from those of over religions, but they’re silly as well. Words are just words. If you’re not religious, the word “God” might just as well be the word “mailbox,” and if you’re another religion hearing “Merry Christmas” is just like hearing music you don’t like. It might be annoying, but it’s common and it’ll be over soon. When the non-religious talk about the bad aspects of religion, the religious will say, “You can’t judge us all by the actions of some or the actions in the past.” The same goes for the non-religious. We don’t want to destroy you, most of us don’t care enough to, so don’t lump us in with the loudest.

But Christians will see these things as attacks on their culture. They see it as persecution.

Then there are the bigger “attacks.” Same-sex marriage and abortion are just affronts to God, but to society! The thing is, the bible does not dictate the values of a society, the society as a whole does. Still, they’ll attack it, partly because they view it as wrong and partly because it further threatens their institution. They make as if same-sex marriage suddenly means everyone has to be gay and legal abortions means every fetus must die. What bothers them more is that it’s become more and more obvious that they won’t have the power to stop such things forever.

The religious like to shout, “FREEDOM OF RELIGION” as if it’s somehow being threatened. What’s more, they think of it as a one-way street. Only the religious have freedom of religion, but the phrase also allows for the freedom of non-religion.

The thing is, religion and cigarettes are basically the same thing. It can be argued that America was built on both, both have long histories, both have dangerous aspects, both are powerful lobbies, both have caused deaths, both give comfort and on and on. The problem is that there’s large groups who don’t care for religion or cigarettes. Smokers and the religious don’t understand that, they make arguments, but when it comes down to it everyone should be free to be comfortable. Not having institutionalized prayer in school is the same as not being able to smoke in bars. It would seem like the two might go hand-in-hand, but the fact is that it annoys some people. There’s still plenty of other places to smoke and pray, no one’s outlawing either, the freedom is still there, there’s just some places you can’t do it.

But still, the religious won’t go quietly. They’ll yell down the phantom barbarians at the gate, because it’s less painful to think someone else is causing their decline.

Now, I know not all religious people are like that, but, like I mentioned earlier, the loudest always get blamed and the loudest ruin things for everyone.

Religion is not in danger from any outside forces in America. There is no widespread, institutionalized persecution of religion. Persecution of religion is The St. Bartholowme’s Day Massacre, it’s the pogroms, it’s the Soviet elimination of religion and it’s the Inquisition.

Religions in America today only have perceived persecution. It shifts the blame and that feels good.



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