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Comment of 3 August 1997
Religious Persecution

A recent study shows that Christians all over the world are being persecuted (it made the newspapers sometime last week).

For example, in Russia, Yeltsin vetoed legislation that would have outlawed all religions except Russian Orthodox Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and, I believe, Buddhism. The funny part of the story is that this law apparently was crafted by the Russian Orthodox Church, fearful of the rise of Evangelicals.

There is, frankly, nothing new in this story. Not only has religious persecution been going on throughout history, most of the persecution has come from other religions.

Example: American students have it beaten into their heads that many settlers came to avoid religious persecution; they came to America to be free to worship as they chose. The part that doesn't get into the history books is the fact that many of these groups, upon arrival, gave themselves freedom of religion and outlawed all other forms of worship.

Now we hear the Evangelical Christians complaining about how horribly they are being persecuted. Let me go on record as saying this persecution is wrong. It shouldn't be happening, and the people whose lives are being made difficult have my complete sympathy and support.

*** I am now about to offend a lot of people ***

I have no doubt, however, that if Evangelical Christians came into a position of power in this country, more than a few of them would waste no time in abolishing all other religions. Consider what I've been told (personally) by Evangelical Christians:

One Evangelical gentleman told me that the Bible was inerrant Truth; I gently pointed out that it was truth -- for him -- because he believed it. I observed that since his beliefs were a statement of faith, they were not necessarily true for me.

"Every word of the Bible has been proven to be true," he responded, "and it's truth for you!"

Not all Evangelicals are this way, of course. I've met Evangelicals all along this scale:

  1. My religion works for me, and I love it. Your religion works for you, and I'm happy for you.
  2. My religion works for me, and I love it. Are you sure your religion works for you? Would you like to give mine a try?
  3. My religion works for me, and I love it. I'm disappointed that you don't share my beliefs, but you're still OK.
  4. My religion works for me, and I love it. Your religion is false. My religion is the only one that will work for you.

Sadly, I've met a lot more people in group four than I'd like to. Despite my total disagreement with their point of view, let me repeat again: they do not deserve to be persecuted.

I simply find it terribly ironic when they complain that others are curbing their freedom of religion.

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