Monday, 1 June 2009

Blessed Are the Persecuted

Britain's Sunday Telegraph recently commissioned a poll of UK church goers. The results, published last weekend, reveal that UK Christians believe they are more likely to be subject to intolerance today compared with 20 years ago, and that they even suffer significant levels of persecution (50% claim to have suffered some sort of persecution).

Here are some of the results:

75 per cent said that there is now less religious freedom in the UK than there was 20 years ago.
50 per cent of British Christians revealed that they had suffered some sort of persecution for their faith.
44 per cent said they had been mocked by friends, neighbours or colleagues for daring to be Christian.
20 per cent said that they had faced opposition at work because of their beliefs.
19 per cent said they had been ‘ignored’ or ‘excluded’ for the same reason.
10 per cent said they have been rejected by family members.
5 per cent said they had been turned down for promotion because of their faith.
5 per cent also declared that they had been reprimanded or cautioned at work for sharing their faith.

In comparison to what our brothers and sisters in Muslim majority countries are presently experiencing (see, what is reported by UK Christians is all relatively mild. However, it does raise the question as to whether British Christians should seek legal redress through the courts to protect their civil rights, or "turn the other cheek" and patiently suffer what God permits to come upon them from the hands and lips of unbelievers. After all, our Lord said, "Blessed are you when they revile you and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for my sake. Rejoice and be exeedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven.." Matthew 5:11-12.

(Click on the title to go to the Sunday Telegraph article).


PW said...

Very interesting post. I have a question. From my experience, I lived on an Indian reservation, where the Christians were something like 2 percent of the population, yet a vibrant faith. I was wondering, of the Christians in the UK, who are being persecuted, is that making their faith more vibrant, and stronger.

History is filled with examples of vibrant faith under persecution. I think, though I don't have exact data, that such countries such as the US who are not under such persecution, perse, may have more complacent Christianity.

Yes in some ways, I think even Australia along with the UK and even the US may fall in the complacency category, would you agree?

PW said...

I wrote a post about your post and asked my readers to respond too. Thanks for the topic to discuss.

Acroamaticus said...

Thanks for your thoughts, PW.
There is an old saying from the church father Tertullian that links persecution to the spread of the Gospel: "the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church." If you look at the way new peoples have been converted, it often seems to be the case that martyrdom took place first and prepared the way for the subsequent progress of the Gospel.

Whether we can expand Tertullian's saying into a fully fledged theology of mission, I don't know...but I have no doubt that persecution purifies the church and intensifies its zeal; which is why I raise the question, should we Christians in the UK, US, Australia, Canada, etc, turn to the law to protect us as our societies become increasingly ani-Christian, or submit to persecution? Perhaps it will be God's way of renewing the church in Western countries?