Saturday, October 10, 2020

Preparing For Persecution In America

By Timothy Gamble

Persecution of Christians is epidemic around the world, and it is starting to happen more frequently in the USA. Over the last several years we have seen a number of churches in America vandalized and even set on fire. There have been a number of mass shootings at churches. Several clergy members have been physically attacked. Other believers have been targeted on their jobs or at school because of their faith. 

Fortunately, these instances are relatively uncommon, and the level of persecution American Christians face is no where near as high as in certain other parts of the world. But there is a definite upward trend here in America. And it is moving into the mainstream. Christians have long been mocked in pop culture, and political correctness and the madness of the mob is pushing that hatred of Christianity into the mainstream media, academia, and even politics. Certain politicians, leftist activists, and talking heads in the media are openly hostile to Christianity, and want to use the courts and so-called hate speech laws (defined as anything they disagree with) to control Christians.  

Future crackdowns on churches and individual Christians by the government and other activists are very likely in the coming years. The excuse will be stopping "hate speech," which, of course, is whatever government decides is "hate speech." 


Churches will also come under increasing attack by leftist activists, social justice warriors, and other "triggered" individuals offended by traditional Christian teachings and values. These attacks will range from simple harassment to the life-threatening and even fatal. 

Here are some ideas on how Christians can prepare for persecution:

1 - Don't let persecution frighten you away from Church, and don't be intimidated into changing your views to fit in with modern society. Christians are to live in the world, not be be of the world. We should never compromise on Biblical truths and the long-held teachings of the Church. Hold fast to those truths and teachings. Don't feel pressured to hold "acceptable" modern beliefs, or to reject those truths deemed "outdated" by the modern world. Whenever the views of the modern world conflict with the Bible and the teachings of the early Church, it is the modern world which is wrong, even if they don't realize it. 

2 - Get right with God and know what you believe. Pray often, read the Bible daily, attend regular worship services, and study apologetics. The more you know, and the more mature you are in your relationship with God, then the stronger you will be when facing persecution. 

Understanding why you believe what you believe as a Christian is vital. I am convinced this is why so many young people leave the Church when they become adults. Parents teach them what to believe, but do a poor job of explaining **why** they should believe. (By the way parents, "you should believe it because I believe it" is a horrible reason to believe anything.)  Thus, their faith is rooted in shallow soil, and is easily washed away as they are exposed to other viewpoints.  

Is your faith, and that of your family, rooted in shallow soil, or in deep, rich soil?  See my article Spiritual Preparedness for more on this topic. 

3 - Consider forming or joining a home church, even as you continue to participate in your larger church.  Alternately, having a small group Bible study that meets in private homes that could become a worship group (home church) may be very useful should the Church in America ever be forced underground. Your current church could & should work on such a "break up into smaller private house churches" plan that would be implemented under certain circumstances.

4 - Activists and others may infiltrate our churches to both spy on the "hate speech" and other disapproved activities within the church, as well as to sow discord among members. I suggest your church plan now for how to spot and deal with (remove) such individuals. This is actually a Biblical mandate:


"Reject a divisive person after a first and second warning, knowing that such a person is perverted and sins, being self-condemned." -- Titus 3:10-11 

We want people, even non-believers, to feel welcome by the Church, but NEVER at the expensive of our relationship with God or other Christians. 
 
5 - Be prepared especially for attempts by LGBT activists to force your Church to accept modern views on marriage, sexuality, and gender. Imagine this: An openly gay couple starts attending your Church, and asks to join, but are unwilling to change their homosexual relationship. Perhaps they even demand 
that your pastor/priest performs their gay marriage at your church. How do you deal with their requests without violating their  "civil rights" and running afoul of laws that are growing progressively liberal.  How do you deal with the bad press if they choose to challenge your Church in court, especially given that most modern media outlets will be decisively on their side? 

What happens if your Church is ultimately ordered by a court to perform a gay marriage?  At that point, you may be forced to dissolve your church as a legal entity, going underground and implementing your house church plan. Figure out the details of how to dissolve the church now. Talk to a Christian lawyer about this.

6 - Be diligent about Church security. Direct attacks on churches are already starting to happen (shootings in SC, TX; fire bombs in WA, NY; attacks on clergy in NC,WA; multiple instances of vandalism and arson of churches across the country) and likely will increase in the future. Consider installing security cameras, which are not that expensive. A
multi-camera CCTV system with DVR recorder can be had for under $200 (here's one such system on Amazon). Other ideas include creating an active shooter plan, installing physical barriers, training for ushers to spot and stop potential problems, and designing certain rooms to be bulletproof and lockable 
(perhaps the Sunday School rooms), in order to act as "safe rooms" or "panic rooms" in an emergency.  Every church should have well-stocked first aid station, and people who know how to use it. Perhaps your church could even offer first aid classes to its members several times a year. 

Some churches are also deciding to have armed security present during services. This can be as simple as having one or two trained church members carry during the service (a good option if you have police officers or military veterans in your congregation), or as formal as hiring professional security. Be sure to find out and follow your local gun laws, if you pursue this option. 

Of course, we want our churches to be open and welcoming to the general public. But, we also want our churches to be safe. Finding the right balance in times of persecution is difficult, and require thought and planning. Whatever you do, just don't avoid the issue.  

7 - Know and aggressively protect your First Amendment rights. If you don't know the important difference between Freedom of Religion (a broad Freedom guaranteed by the Constitution) and Freedom of Worship (a much weaker concept), please read my 2015 article on the subject for an eye-opening experience. 

The short version is this: Freedom of Religion is the right to worship,or not, as you please, AND it is the right to live your life according to the dictates of your religion. Freedom of Religion means you have the right to pray and worship in any style you wish. It also means that you have the right to live your entire life, in private and in public, according to the beliefs, principles, and teachings of your religion, and to pass on those ideas to your children. 

On the other hand, Freedom of Worship is a much watered-down concept, applying to only your worship and not to any other aspect of your life. It is limited to acts of worship only, and even then is further limited to the four corners of the church building and maybe the privacy of your home. And it does not guarantee you the right to pass on your beliefs to your children. 

This conflict between Freedom of Religion (which is what is actually in the Constitution) and Freedom of Worship (which is being pushed in some legal and political circles) is one of the greatest, and least reported, threats to the Church in America today. Again, please read my 2015 article for more details. 

There are a number of Christian law organizations specializing in providing legal services in defense of Freedom of Religion. 

Legal Help with Freedom of Religion Issues

American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ)
Legal helpline: 1-757-226-2489
Website: http://aclj.org/

Christian Law Association (ALC)
Telephone: 1-888-252-1969
Website: http://www.christianlaw.org/

Liberty Counsel
Telephone: 1-407-875-1776
Website: http://www.lc.org/

Liberty Institute
Telephone: 1-972-941-4444
Website: https://www.libertyinstitute.org

Alliance Defending Freedom
Toll Free: 1-800-835-5233
Website: http://www.adflegal.org

 

Got more suggestions? Great. Please leave them in the comments section! 

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