This site is not maintained. Click here for the new website of Richard Dawkins.

Blessed are those with a persecution complex?

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5: 10-12)

These, we are told, were the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, and persecution has been a hot topic for Christians ever since. True, they have dished out more than their fair share of the stuff to non-Christians (or ‘wrong’ Christians) over the centuries and have at times rivaled the most sadistic of Roman emperors in their dedication to inflicting agony on their hapless victims; true, too, that recent scholarship has cast doubt on the ferocity of the persecution faced by early Christians; but all the same, there is no doubt that persecution has been a horrible reality for some Christians throughout the last 2000 years.

Indeed, it still is. There are many parts of the world where to be a Christian is to take your life in your hands. Many Islamic nations, in particular, are not known for their tolerance towards other faiths. From Afghanistan to Yemen, Christians have been attacked, forcibly converted, banned from positions of power, or even murdered for their beliefs. And Islam is not the only culprit: Christians in India have experienced violence at the hands of Hindu extremists, while in Communist China imprisonment awaits Christians attending non-approved churches.

Since I don’t believe in a heaven where suffering will be rewarded, I see no silver lining in such atrocities. There is only this life, and if it is blighted by persecution on any grounds, religious or otherwise, that is a bad thing and should be opposed.

Still, Christians are taught that persecution is part of the package, practically a badge of honor. And that’s not easy to achieve in modern, democratic western societies which fully accept the universal human right of freedom of religion. In most such societies there is still widespread respect for religion, even if it is not widely believed in: some of the most strident opponents of ‘new atheism,’ for instance, are not Christians but what Dan Dennett calls ‘believers in belief.’ Difficult, in such circumstances, for a Christian to find herself facing anything deserving of the term ‘persecution.’

This does not, however, stop them trying.

Read on



Update - Twitter exchange - Hard...

First Aid Kit - YouTube -... Comments

First Aid Kit - Hard Believer

Why Is Everyone on the Internet So...

Natalie Wolchover & Life's Little... Comments

A perfect storm engenders online rudeness, including virtual anonymity and thus a lack of accountability, physical distance and the medium of writing

Death of scientific evidence mourned on...

Meagan Fitzpatrick - CBC News Comments

Scientists, concerned citizens hold mock funeral in Ottawa to protest federal cuts

Should Depressed People Avoid Having...

Maia Szalavitz - TIME - Healthland 39 Comments

Do people with depression or other psychological problems have any moral obligation to forgo bearing children in order to avoid passing on their "bad" genes?

2,000 protesters support gay rights

Laura Graff - Winston-Salem Journal 14 Comments

Protesters travel to speak against Pastor Charles Worley, who gave a sermon May 13 that suggested gay people should be rounded up, placed in a sort of concentration camp, and left to die.

How the Web is killing faith

Hemant Mehta - Washington Post 41 Comments

"The Internet is blind faith’s worst nightmare."



How would Jesus vote?

Paula Kirby - The Washington Post Comments

How would Jesus vote?

Why Richard Dawkins is still an atheist

Paula Kirby - Washington Post On Faith 108 Comments

[The God Delusion is] absolutely chock-full of things Richard Dawkins really does believe. Which is handy, because it saves everyone the trouble of making them up.

Explaining the RDFRS UK/Ipsos MORI poll

Paula Kirby - BBC Local Radio 35 Comments

4 BBC local radio interviews with Paula Kirby of RDFRS UK, discussing the Ipsos MORI poll.

‘How do atheists find meaning in life?’

Paula Kirby - Washington Post On Faith 200 Comments

Life cannot be meaningless so long as we have the capacity to affect the well-being of ourselves and others. For true meaninglessness, we would need heaven.

Evolution threatens Christianity

Paula Kirby - Washington Post On Faith 296 Comments

Christianity is like a big, chunky sweater. It may feel cozy, it may keep you warm, but just let one stitch be dropped and the whole thing unravels before your very eyes. Evolution is that stitch.

Spirituality: It’s only human

Paula Kirby - Washington Post - On... 50 Comments

Religion is a parasite that feeds on all that is good in humanity as a whole and then proclaims it as its own gift to the world.



Comment RSS Feed

Please sign in or register to comment