The shifting cultural tides in America right now are making many Christians uncomfortable – and worried about what they perceive as a rapid erosion of religious freedoms and an ever-steeper decline in Christian values.
The pillars of conservative Christianity are being shaken – and it’s giving many American believers the jitters, leaving us asking: “What’s coming next?”
As America adopts moral relativism as its cultural worldview, Christians are finding themselves increasingly marginalized and in the minority – frequently on the defensive against anti-Christian bias, including accusations of “hate” and “bigotry.”
Where Christianity once occupied the seat at the head of America’s table, now it is increasingly denied any seat at the table. This is evident in America’s leading opinion shaping institutions – universities, media, government, entertainment, and even athletics.
Law, education, the arts, entertainment – culture in everyday life once guided by a Judeo-Christian consensus – are now floundering in a moral relativism that in essence believes in no truth, no objective right and wrong, and thus has no meaning. This is the nihilism that’s growing in America right now.
A few days ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled by the narrowest 5-4 margin that certain safety precautions for abortion clinics were unconstitutional – a crushing blow for pro-life Christians.
Several weeks ago, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio attacked Christian relief agency Samaritan’s Purse, after the organization set up an emergency field hospital in Central Park, coordinated with The Mount Sinai Hospital, to care for COVID-19 patients. De Blasio called it “very troubling,” citing the organization’s conservative stance on social issues.
Yale Law School adopted a policy that disallows employers that consider religion, religious creed, gender identity, or gender expression from hiring students who benefit from Yale funding. The effect is to discriminate against organizations with religious identity and purposes.
Could American Christians – like their brothers and sisters in other parts of the world – be next in line for a wave of harassment, and even persecution?
In the Middle East and North Africa, Christians know what it means to be in the minority. They’re always on the edge of society, viewed with the utmost suspicion. Often despised and even hated, they’re constant targets for abuse and violence.
As a religious minority in the Middle East – ironically, the cradle of Christianity – followers of Jesus have wrestled for hundreds of years with how to respond in an environment supercharged with animosity.
While none of us goes out looking for trouble, we can be sure that as America moves towards a morally unhinged pagan view of life, trouble will find us. As our culture – like the Pharisees who had their own agenda – seethes and gnashes its teeth at those connected to Christ, how do we respond?
Over centuries, persecution has taught the church in oppressive settings not to “return reviling for reviling” but instead to repay hostility – and even hate – with love that does no harm. As a Christian satellite television broadcaster based in the Middle East, this is something we at SAT-7 see every day as local Christians reflect the love of Jesus.
When Christians show love and respect towards those who treat us disdainfully, we disarm their hate, prejudice, and anger. We show them a picture of Christ, the Lamb of God.
Harassment that can lead to persecution – while obviously not pleasant – is actually a blessing for those who follow Jesus. As Christ told us: “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12, KJV).
SAT-7 is privileged to have an “open door” 24/7 into the living rooms of more than 30 million viewers across the Middle East and North Africa – and we’re determined to use this as a channel of positivity and good, putting love into action.
SAT-7 transcends politics and partisanship – instead showing viewers what it means to be a true follower of God. Our audiences need to see that God’s love extends to everyone, and that he desires every single person to have freedom of thought, religion, expression, and economic opportunity.
Even though as Christ’s followers it sometimes appears people are just spitting venom at us, many secretly long to see real love made visible. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen a huge spike in the number of engagements with SAT-7’s social media in places like Iran and Turkey.
Don’t lose heart! It doesn’t matter who you are, or where you live, the unbounded love of Christ will change the world. Others’ venom will become our victory. Persecution will only make the light shine all the brighter – and no one will be able to hide from the radiant beauty of Jesus in us.
The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily represent those of Christian Headlines.
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Dr. Rex Rogers is president of SAT-7 USA, making God's love visible to more than 30 million viewers across the Middle East and North Africa through Christian satellite television and online services in four regional languages.