By Charlie Johnston
Before a society begins murderous oppression against a group, there is usually an extended period where the target group is dehumanized and marginalized. The attacks get progressively more severe as the would-be oppressors probe the boundaries of how brutal they can be. For nearly a decade, pre-death-camp Nazi Germany progressively proscribed the ability of Jews to participate in the nation’s economy or to obtain justice under the law. Just before the holocaust began in earnest, Jews were confined to “ghettos,” to keep them away from proper-thinking Germans. Once the general populace accepted these acts without any serious blowback, it was a short step to general arrest, impoverishment, encampment, and ultimately murder of an entire class of people.
Sociologists George Yancey and David Williamson have a frightening new book out, “So Many Christians, So Few Lions…” that documents this process is much farther along in America than even I had estimated. You have to get up pretty early to be more cynical about the state of our culture and the malice of our elites than I am. The numbers are terrifying. Some 37 percent of progressives want overt legal restrictions on Christians, such as banning homeschooling, barring Christians from holding public office or practicing law or medicine. A small minority prefers forced sterilization of Christians and even indulges in fantasies of torture and execution.
National Review’s Maggie Gallagher offers a shorter synopsis hitting the high points, such as banning Christians from operating orphanages or adoption programs (which is already functionally the law in some states, including my native Illinois. It technically allows for it, but only if the Christians are willing to actively facilitate adoptions to same-sex couples. Contrary to popular belief, the ancient Romans rarely required that suspected Christians renounce their belief in Christ. Those Romans were pantheists. Usually, if a Christian merely agreed to offer sacrifice to pagan gods or the Emperor – who was himself considered a god – the Romans would not throw them to the lions and would even allow them to keep Christ in their pantheon of gods.) The new Romans unconsciously mimic their spiritual ancestors.
The most intense and venomous bigotry in the country right now is that against Christians. As the article notes, the peculiar thing is the bigotry is primarily indulged in and perpetrated by the elite and ruling classes. It confirms something I have been talking about since the 80’s: we have the most morally degenerate, maliciously intolerant, and intellectually bankrupt class of elites in many centuries. The seeds of the destruction were perpetrated several generations ago. Our modern elite classes have gained power by playing at intellectualism and morality on the cheap. They don’t want to actually study how things work, so like high school sophomores, they flood the culture with declarations of their own superiority and hipness. They can’t win arguments, so they just shut down opposition…and as their intellectual bankruptcy becomes more obvious, they progressively adopt harsher tactics to silence – and punish – opponents.
Progressives love to say Christians in America aren’t being oppressed, pointing to parts of Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia as examples of real oppression. News flash for these caustic geniuses: a society doesn’t go from a “Bells of St. Mary’s” culture to slaughtering the lambs over night. First, it has to be imagined, then the targets must be dehumanized, then test oppressions denying basic rights take place. It’s the trajectory that tells. As Our Lord said while He walked the earth, “You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.” (Matthew 16:3). We are already in very deep water.
A commenter here the other day noted that I have had over 50 years to learn these things – and from a better teacher than I am, while all of you have to try to cram with the Cliff’s Notes Version. There is much truth in that. If you entirely put your trust in Christ, there is absolutely nothing you need fear. But most actually trust in themselves. I hear people talk about what steadfast spiritual warriors they are – and what I usually see are children armed with plastic swords and cardboard shields eager to go confront the wehrmacht. I am working on several things I think important for everyone. It took me years to understand some of the simplest things. Some people I told about these things years ago struggled as I did. Several had a habit of taking some silly thing I would say in jest as Holy Writ while not registering the really important things at all. But eventually, having said what I did both registered – and helped – when those friends would reach a crisis. So I will tell you things that you may understand, but are more likely to only think you understand. Some will take offense. But it is largely the method by which I was taught. I am trying to come up with the best way to give you brief explanation that will have impact. It is not coming easily – not because I struggle to write – but because I want to speak in ways that will have maximum impact and will resonate for you when it is time for it.
In the meantime, I will do shorter, more frequent posts, as I figure out effective approaches. I need to give you an effective examination of conscience for the hidden malice and pride that lurks to trip you up. I need to help change the perspective from which you view things. I need to help you hold fast to Christ when you are under serious and subtle assault. Most of all, I need to do it in a way so that you don’t depend on me, but value my counsel as you become sherpas who can help guide others safely through these treacherous waters. People often seem to think that God acts as an Answer Man to me. Very rarely. Part of the training was learning to ‘judge righteous judgment,’ to make decisions and take responsibility for them, knowing that you will err – and sometimes badly. Making decisions is the principle way in which we stretch out our hands to God when He sends us on mission. He insists we stretch out our hands if we are going to serve His people. Doing it despite knowing we will err is how we build a truly refined trust in God, knowing that He will draw profound fruit even from our errors if we always acknowledge Him.
I am about the business of giving you a crash course in being sherpas. I hope you are quicker studies than I was. We are in very deep water, indeed.