Conversations about persecution can often be complex, especially when differentiating religious freedom battles in America from the horrific and deadly acts of violence Christians face across the globe.
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But while the situation in America must be distinguished from deadly acts of persecution abroad, Johnnie Moore, author of “The New Book of Christian Martyrs: The Heroes of Our Faith from the 1st Century to the 21st Century,” said there are some essential aspects about both that must be discussed.
“I’m always clear when I’m talking about the subject … I have no intention of drawing a parallel between religious discrimination in the United States of America or in the West and people getting their heads chopped off in Western Africa, their whole lives and livelihood[s] being destroyed routinely.”
Moore said there are specifically two small caveats to this reluctance to draw parallels — and the first involves the general roots of persecution.
“When I’m in the most intensely persecuting places, the persecuted church always tells me, in some way, they’ll say something like, ‘It didn’t start like this here. It started with marginalization. It started with discrimination. It started with our children being treated differently in schools,'” he said. “And so they always say, ‘Watch out for the early warning signs.'”
Watch Moore discuss persecution:
Moore said a second observation worthy of noting centers on a general sentiment in Western culture — one he also sees as having a prevalence in places where religious persecution has turned deadly and diabolical. It’s the demand of “change your beliefs or else,” a dynamic he said is “scary.”
Still, despite demands, people change their beliefs and comply, the dynamics in other countries are much different, and, to date, the First Amendment provides robust protections for believers.
“There is no parallel between the unrivaled religious freedom we enjoy in the United States of America and all of these other places and circumstances,” Moore said. “It’s the first clause of the first sentence of our First Amendment, and, under most circumstances, when it gets squeezed, it works its way up in our system, and it’s protected.”
Moore praised America as the “most amazing country” and said we have these freedoms because “we are vigilant” when it comes to protecting them.
In the U.S., when someone says “change your beliefs,” he noted no one is going to jail, though he also warned against “giving an inch” regarding marginalization.
“We have to be very, very careful when this happens,” he said.
Watch everything Moore has to say about persecution here.
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