Show Notes - Episode 100
You know... it isn't persecution when someone says “happy holidays.” It isn't persecution when the town asks you to clean up the tracts you've littered it with. It isn't persecution to ask someone to wear a mask during a public health crisis. I was never asked what my religion was went I went to Walmart at the height of COVID. I was simply asked to wear a mask. Not everything is about them, but do they get off on the delusion that it is. I'm Spider...
...and tonight we are talking about what passes for religious persecution in the eyes of the average american evangelical and I don't think that it will come as any surprise to anyone who listens to this show that it's all delusion and paranoia. Christianity is one of the most protected and tolerated religions out there and yet whenever public policy doesn't go their way, when businesses don't bow to pressures to zero in on Christmas and not shun every other religious holiday out there, whenever they're told they can't have a church and school in an area not zoned for churches and schools, and whenever someone politely ASKS them to take a jab in the arm for the good of the neighbor they're mandated to love like they love themselves (and boy do these people LOVE THEMSELVES), they play the persecution card and pitch fits until they get their way or give up. And that right there is a generous tease for what's coming up in just a few, but for right now...
Spider finds a new hero and a sound critique of Christian nationalism from an unlikely source. It's It's christians (and one badass teen) calling out Christians for behaving badly this time around...
Ah, high school. Math. English. Science. And...Salvation?
If you went to public school, one thing we all remember is the school assembly. For me, it meant that I didn't have to listen to my European History Teacher drone on in a monotone as she read out of the text book. I'm sure other people learned stuff but in general, I don't remember one thing that was said at any of these events. Even if some of those events were mandatory.
However, I'm pretty sure that the kids at Huntingdon High School in West Virginia aren't going to forget this particular assembly any time soon. Told that the assembly was mandatory, the students went down to the auditorium, only to be met by 25-year-old evangelical preacher Nik Walker of Nik Walker Ministries, who has been leading revivals in the Huntington area for more than two weeks.
"During the assemblies, students and their families are encouraged to join evening services at the nearby Christ Temple Church. More than 450 people, including 200 students, have been baptized at the church, according to Walker, who said he was scheduled to go to another public school and nearby Marshall University soon."
The meetings took place during a time of day where the students had what we used to call "study hall"--a non-instructional period where they could study for tests, do homework, work on college prep and listen to guest speakers. You could argue that they weren't being taught anything so no class time was wasted. However many students and their parents objected.
Max Niebert, a senior at Huntington High, organized a walkout of over 100 students to protest the assembly. During their homeroom period, they walked out 'chanting, “Separate the church and state” and, “My faith, my choice.” ' Security officers turned away reporters who wanted to cover the protest.
'“I don’t think any kind of religious official should be hosted in a taxpayer-funded building with the express purpose of trying to convince minors to become baptized after school hours,” Nibert said. During the walkout, he held a sign reading, “My rights are non-negotiable.” '
Cabell County Schools spokesperson Jedd Flowers said the event was voluntary, organized by the school’s chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He said there was supposed to be a signup sheet for students, but two teachers mistakenly brought their entire class.
https://ffrf.org/news/news-releases/item/40419-christian-nationalism-key-force-behind-jan-6-capitol-attack-asserts-new-report While a lot Christians behaved badly, others were keeping track:
The Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty and the Freedom from Religion Foundation have released a new report, entitled “Christian Nationalism and the January 6, 2021, Insurrection.” The author list contains many experts on Christian Nationalism: authors such as Andrew Seidel of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Professors Andrew Whitehead and Samuel Perry, and Amanda Tyler, executive director of BJC and organizer of the Christians Against Christian Nationalism initiative.
“The extensive document begins with a sociological explanation of Christian nationalism in America and the demographics that underlie this ideology.
“Survey after survey finds that close to half of Americans are at the very least supportive of the fusion of Christianity with American civic life,” Whitehead and Perry write. “These Americans believe that Christianity should influence our public policies, sacred symbols, and national identity.” Their research also underscores “how white Christian nationalism and Christianity are not one and the same.” '
The report also includes a short history of Christian Nationalism as well as descriptions of their money and support systems:
The bulk of the report exposes the role this ideology played in fomenting the insurrection, including a key section written by Seidel detailing the buildup and dry runs that occurred immediately following Election Day up until the attack itself. His chapter on the evidence of the role of white Christian nationalism is heavily documented and richly studded with photographs and links to videos of that day showing the prayers, signage and symbols of Christian nationalism.
“Christian nationalism has helped create a political taboo against any discussion of Christianity that isn’t outright praise, so this aspect of the insurrection has been almost completely ignored,” says Seidel, who first perceived the need for this report and organized its publication. “We cannot understand what happened on Jan. 6 without confronting and understanding Christian nationalism.”
This report is available at the Christians against Christian Nationalism website: https://www.christiansagainstchristiannationalism.org/jan6report and the link will be in our show notes
This deserves to be read by everyone who is concerned with our country. It's 66 pages. I plan on reading it this weekend!
PROMO – Biblical Contradictions on 2/20, no episode on 2/27, “The Village” on 3/6
First off, let's understand that Christianity IS a persecuted religion. In North Korea, for example, as well as in most or all Muslim-governed nations, Christians risk imprisonment and even death for their faith. The Christian community in Mosul, Iraq was exiled, and ISIS or ISIL aggressively persecute Christians in the name of Jihad. So yes, it is safe to say that Christians the world over are persecuted.
According to the 2021 World Watch List:
Every day, 13 Christians worldwide are killed because of their faith.
Every day, 12 churches or Christian buildings are attacked.
And every day, 12 Christians are unjustly arrested or imprisoned, and another 5 are abducted.
And those are global numbers. I wonder how many Christians give people COVID every day by not masking up or getting vaxxed. I wonder how many people they've passively killed...
But that's North Korea and Iraq. We're talking about people right here in the U.S. who operate under the delusion that they are somehow being persecuted and for reasons so petty, any rational human could see how little truth there is to it.
Evangelicals firmly believe that they, as Christians, are under attack, even though they get their holidays off, there is no restrictions on how many churches they can build or even how much money they can make. The churches will seldom be punished for mishandling funds and do not have to pay taxes. But still, they maintain that they are being persecuted. The idea of persecution is central to the Christian religion
This is called the Christian Persecution Complex and is mostly maintained by certain American Protestant churches and some Christian or bible based cults in Europe. Different scholars have opinions on when it started. Most seem to place it around mid 20th century, citing certain court decisions regarding prayer in schools and other public places where Christian activity might be declared out of bounds.
“This complex "mobilizes the language of religious persecution to shut down political debate and critique by characterizing any position not in alignment with this politicized version of Christianity as an example of anti-religious bigotry and persecution.
But let's not lay this entire burden at the feet of the evangelicals. This concept goes back way further.
Historically, Christians have been persecuted since the 1st century of the Christian Era until the present day in different places and for different reasons. At first, they were persecuted by Jews, and then by Romans. These particular events are taught in every Sunday School and and even in public school. Every Christian child knows that early Christians were often ‘thrown to the lions’ in the coliseum. In Late Antiquity (classical antiquity to the Middle ages in Europe), Christians were often persecuted by other Christians who disagreed on certain beliefs and doctrines as ‘heresy’.
While the Romans ended their persecutions officially in the 4th century, the disagreements between Christians and other flavors of Christianity only increased. “The schisms of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages – including the Rome–Constantinople schisms and the many Christological controversies – together with the later Protestant Reformation provoked severe conflicts between Christian denominations. During these conflicts, members of the various denominations frequently persecuted each other and engaged in sectarian violence. In the 20th century, Christian populations were persecuted, sometimes to the point of genocide, by various states, including the Ottoman Empire and its successor, which committed the Hamidian massacres, the Armenian genocide, the Assyrian genocide, and the Greek genocide, and by officially atheist states such as the former Soviet Union, Communist Albania, China, and North Korea.”
Although the persecution of Christians continues into the 21st century, the persecution continues to be done by other Christians as well as terrorist organizations such as ISIL. Since about 10% of the world’s Christians live in countries where they are the minorities, they are often targeted by majority religious groups who often belong to that countries’ state religion.
Yep... they fight amongst themselves all the time and here's an example:
“[nineteenth century] Protestants burned down Catholic churches and convents in New England and elsewhere and periodically went to war with Catholics outrightly. In Philadelphia, in pitched battles with rifles, cannons, and bombs, Protestants razed the greater part of a Catholic neighborhood in 1844 and killed a large number of its inhabitants.”
The Christian church itself also has a long history of perpetuating martyrdom and persecution narratives. The stories of saints’ lives often center on their sufferings for Christ.
Fox’s Book of Martyrs – this one showed up a couple times in college. At least once in our theology classes and also in one of my Missions electives. The purpose of the stories in it is to inspire and encourage Christians, but it also does a stellar job of instilling a very romanticized view of being persecuted in the mind of the reader.
One of my sources put it very eloquently: Narratives like FBM fetishize suffering. Talk about a truly deviant kind of kink...
Since we are mainly talking about present-day Christian persecution, I do what I usually do to get an overview of a subject—I consult Wikipedia. The entry on historical and modern Christian persecutions is quite detailed and well organized so it was easy to find modern examples.
While Christians are, indeed one of the most persecuted religious groups in the world, these incidences often occur at the same time as other events, for instance in the wars in the Congo in the 20-teens and the first Iraq war. Persecutions of Christians are increasing in the Muslim world. Those who convert to Christianity are especially targeted often incurring the death penalty in the countries who are under Sharia law.
But when I scroll down to the United States, where Christians are the dominant religious group, I see only two incidents in the 19th and 20th centuries respectively. In the early to mid 1800’s, the Mormons, at the time a new religious movement, found themselves under persecution, both by populations and by the United States Government. The Missouri governor signed an Extermination Order in 1838, which was not formally invalidated until 25 June 1976, 137 years after being signed. Within that time, many actions were brought by the state an federal governments against the Mormons.
This is Persecution.
Also, during the second iteration of the Ku Klux Klan, founded in 1915 and launched in the 1920’s, the Klan persecuted Catholics in both America and Canada. They saw Catholicism as a very real threat and appealed to White Anglo-Saxon Protestants: it opposed Jews, blacks, Catholics, and newly arriving Southern and Eastern European immigrants such as Italians, Russians, and Lithuanians, many of whom were either Jewish or Catholic. This is also persecution.
Popular media also does a great job of fueling this bandwagon, too. Conservative journalists, politicians, and talk show hosts have a history of selectively highlighting cases of religious persecution aimed at Christians. The most public of examples is the idiotic “war on Christmas” narrative which we covered at the end of 2020 here.
FOX News in particular has earned itself a reputation for using the same emotionalism and sensationalism that appeals to evangelicals when presenting stories of perceived discrimination against Christians. An article in the Atlantic offers this example:
Todd Starnes, a popular commenter on the network, recently published God Less America, purporting to expose the “Attack on Traditional Values.” Starnes has built a career almost exclusively based on reporting alleged incidences of Christian and conservative persecution. But his work almost always offers a skewed vision of religious liberty in the U.S.—he often exaggerates or omits facts. Earlier in his career, he was fired from the Baptist Press for reporting “factual and contextual errors.” Yet, his continues to be enormously influential—as I wrote last year, “Starnes sells us what we want to hear. We want to believe that we are the underdog. And Starnes sells us that story, wrapped in language of patriotism and faith.”
So, in the world of journalism (or what passes for it on Faux News) this subject has become its own niche. More fuel is poured on the fire all the time and NOT just by this one guy either.
Other news organizations and Evangelical influencers are also guilty of perpetuating this skewed view of persecution as well. Take this recent story covered by CitizenLink. This “news” source is the “public policy partner of Focus on the Family” so you know you're about to get Dobsoned over the head with propaganda.
The story is about a small Texas church that acquired an old community center in a residential area and turned it into a church and school, which violated local zoning laws. After unsuccessful attempts at changing the zoning laws, the church sued the town on claims of religious discrimination—a community center and Girl Scout camp were allowed in that area, but not a church, they said.
When CitizenLink reported on the lawsuit, it framed this as a fight against “anti-religious discrimination.” But the minutes from a local town council show that residents opposed rezoning because they were concerned about the noise and traffic the church and school would bring to their quiet neighborhood.
Not even remotely about Jesus-hating. Nope. It wasn't even a consideration. No one cared what these people believed. They just didn't want the disruption it would bring to the neighborhood. And, having a signature distaste for rules and laws despite biblical admonitions to do things like “obey the laws of the land” these people thought they could do whatever they wanted with the property because... Jesus. They didn't like being told they couldn't because... zoning. Sure, they could have petitioned to re-zone the area but gosh golly that's a whole lotta bother. And who wants or lies bother. Disobeying the rules is much easier... until someone else steps in.
And while we're on the subject of Biblical admonishments, what does the Bible say about lying? This is one area where one actually CAN glean some decent moral guidance, oddly enough (not that lying isn't romanticized in other places, of course... biblical contradictions is on deck). There are even verses that warn of consequences for lying and, sorry CitizenLink, you can lie by bearing false witness and you can lie by omitting information so, how do you deal with any of these verses, I wonder...
And it shouldn't surprise anyone to learn that White Evangelicals are among the largest group of independent believers who think that Christianity is under attack in America. This group holds in higher numbers than any other to the opinion that Christians are more persecuted in America than Muslims. Just in terms of outward discrimination in workplaces, schools, and when they're just trying to take their kids to Disney World, Muslims are dealt way more shit than any Christian ever will.
And since they're big end-times fanatics, the concept of extreme persecution that is yet to come is also prevalent in White Evangelical thought. Things are bad now but they're going to get way worse when the Antichrist rises to power. Yada yada yada....
Evangelical pop culture also perpetuates this myth and has been doing so for decades. The theme of suffering for Jesus is prevalent in Christian media.
Russ Taff's song “Not Gonna Bow” attempted to equate secular peer pressure with religious persecution, comparing a teenage boy being offered drugs and alcohol at a party with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednago's persecution in the book of Daniel. Only one problem: Bobby's friends didn't throw him in a furnace because he didn't want to smoke weed with them.
In his anthem “Pray in the USA” Morgan Cryer dropped these lines in the mid 80s...
“I'm no rebel, just a pebble stuck in some judge's shoe. My bended knee may not be free, but my heart's gonna break on through...” and later, “Someday we may hear it: 'praying is a felony!' I guess they'll call us criminals then and I guess that's what I'll be...”
Even better, themes of martyrdom polluted christian radio airwaves prevalently in the 80s and 90s. Phil Keaggy's song “Talk About Suffering” was a prime example...
Talk about suffering here below
And talk about loving Jesus
The gospel train is coming
Oh, don't you want to go ?
And leave this world of trials
And troubles here below ?
DC Talk took it a step further trying to fuel their own “Jesus Freak” movement that was more marketing than ministry, but perpetuated the same toxic thoughts about how suffering and even dying for Jesus was somehow “hip.” Being a “loser” in the eyes of one's peers was something to be aspired to. And this sentiment was expressed eloquently from our resident CCM reference... you got it! Steve Taylor. On his album “Squint” you find a gem of a song called “Jesus is For Losers.”
“Just as I am, at a total loss, Jesus is for losers broken at the foot of the cross...” And I can't help but realize how well the timelines for the release of this album and the DC Talk “Movement” run in parallel.
And I've brought up Carman's “America Again” here before – a song so mired down with blatant lies about US history that no one with the ability to do a Google search should have any trouble debunking it (not that Google existed then and that was very good news for them). But that song also fueled a lot of hysteria and alluded to America being a persecuted nation due to secularization and free thought.
Then there's Tim LaHaye's Left Behind book series. These books amount to little more than a campy end-times tale that spotlights religious persecution, this time at the hands of the antichrist. But unlike your average good guy/bad guy tale, these books do something that these people seem to really get off on: they romanticize the concept of persecution, just like the Mark IV movies did nearly three decades earlier.
See, I look back in time with this not so much because I'm so detached from Evangelical culture today, but because it was the same people being fed this indoctrination then were among the ones who stormed the capitol in January of 2021.
But if you want a few more recent examples, let's look at two films that depict Christians as the heroic rebels standing up to a world that is hostile and often violent toward anyone who even marginally believes in Jesus.
First, there's God’s Not Dead. This movie tells the story of a Christian college student who is given an ultimatum: sign a document that states that God is dead or face the proverbial showdown at high noon with his philosophy professor in the form of debate. The student accepts the challenge and debates with the professor in a classically biblical way. Over three classes, the debate spirals into a Freudian therapy session wherein we find out that the professor hates god because his mother died. The student wins the debate, the professor is basically shamed out of the room and audiences everywhere cheered... to the tune of $62 million dollars in box office receipts.
Then there's Persecuted. Nice title. Just cut right to the chase. This one follows a pastor who gets framed for murder by the government for trying to stop passage of a federal bill that restricts religious freedom.
So martyrdom and exclusion have always been viewed as perverse status symbols within evangelicalism. You want to feel persecuted because it means that you're doing Christianity right. It's a fulfillment of Jesus' words in several places:
Jn 15:18 - “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.”
Jn 16:33b - “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
And Paul hopped on the bandwagon in Romans 8:18 - “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”
But all that leads to skewed thinking about what persecution is and makes the concept extend to things like being generally offended by public policies that don't fall in lock step with one's beliefs or how eloquently secularization puts religious belief neatly in its place. Because you can't openly lead or mandate the participation in a prayer in a public school, you're being persecuted. No, you're not. You're just being told to keep that stuff confined to within the walls of your privately-funded, privately-owned, tax-sheltered house of worship and not bring it into public space. Imagine what would happen if a bunch of wiccans marched into their church and started chanting, calling quarters and casting circles....
But it's that sense of confinement that drives the thought that persecution is happening. If you can't pray in schools and make others pray with you, it's an attack on your religious liberty. No, it's just society trying to explain to you that there is a time and a place for everything and during homeroom in a publicly-funded institution of learning isn't it.
So to tie things together a little while we continue the conversation, here is a SHORT LIST of things that count as “persecution” for the average evangelical:
When society pays respect to any religious or spiritual view that is counter to their own
When society downplays the importance of their religion (scheduling workers or holding events on sundays during church time)
Refusing to acknowledge Jesus as the focal point of anything they think he should be (Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays)
When another religion tries to move in on their turf (The Satanic Temple)
Whenever they're told to keep their views to themselves (no! I have to let my light shine before men, dammit!)
Whenever they're told to worship their god in their own space and not infiltrate someone else's with it
Whenever their views are successfully challenged and they run out of defenses
When someone else refuses to show the respect to their god they think he deserves (like saying “Jesus Christ!” as an expletive)
Whenever someone points out their tomfoolery in a public forum and others agree with the counterpoint
The Atlantic says it this way:
“Traditionally, Christians have had a very broad view of what it means to suffer for Christ—broad enough to include everything from genuine martyrdom to mild ridicule by nonbelievers. Behind this is an essential part of the faith, which says that every Christian will be persecuted by the world: True believers will lose jobs, face exile, and suffer from violence.”
And here is just another sample of how batshit insane evangelical thinking really is. Many evangelicals not only expect to be persecuted for their faith, they worry about it if they aren't. Why? Because if you aren't being persecuted you're probably not all that great a Christian. I even remember being told that if the devil doesn't consider you a threat he leaves you alone. That was the rationale my old youth pastor used when I was getting more disillusioned by the day with the situation at mission impossible. He said to me more than once that the fact that I was facing trials was proof positive that God was about to do something extraordinary in my ministry.
But many Christians also fear that if they aren't facing constant trials at the hands of others they might not even be saved.
The danger of this view is that believers can come to see victimhood as an essential part of their identity.
Here's the problem, though: Christians aren't persecuted in America. I'm sorry to rain on anyone's parade, but it's not a thing that happens or has ever happened on any broad scale here. And while there are significant instances of discrimination and even hate crimes toward Christians or Christianity, this is still the largest religious group in America and no other religion is as widely acknowledged, accepted, shamelessly accommodated, or as heavily protected.
I wonder how many businesses treat Hanukkah or Kwanzaa as holidays... and I'm wracking my brain but I can't think of a single time I heard an invocation at any government proceeding that wasn't Christian.
But that didn't stop Mike Pence from telling the 2019 graduating class of Liberty University that they were likely to be “shunned or ridiculed for defending the teachings of the Bible.” He also told this group of young people just starting out in life that they would “be asked not just to tolerate things that violate your faith, you’re going to be asked to endorse them. Throughout most of American history, it’s been pretty easy to call yourself Christian, but things are different now.”
How, Mike? What does experience tell you about this? What examples can you cite? It all seems a bit nebulous.
“The concept that Christianity is being oppressed is popular among conservative politicians in contemporary politics in the United States, and they utilize this idea to address issues concerning LGBT people or the Affordable Care Act's contraceptive mandate, which they perceive as an attack on Christianity. The application of the contraceptive mandate to closely held corporations with religious objections was struck down by the Supreme Court in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.
And again, there are instances that involve things like workplace policies where questionable decisions are made based on someone's faith (usually an owner or executive) but they are so few and far-between it's difficult to classify any of it as widespread “persecution.”
Or at least it was until...
Mask mandates are religious persecution! Mandatory vaccinations are religious persecution! Closing our churches is persecution!
COVID has done a lot of damage and taken a lot of lives, but one of the most dangerous outgrowths of it has been the perceived validation of some evangelicals' claims of persecution and the fueling of these perceptions by evangelical leaders, particularly clergy, who have downplayed the severity of covid for more than two years now as far less a public health crisis than it is a source of religious persecution.
Let's be clear: telling people to wear a mask is not persecution. It's protection. Telling people they can't go to church isn't persecution. It's an attempt to protect them from themselves when they lack the good sense to stay home and quarantine like everybody else. No one shut down their church's YouTube Channels or FB Live streams. They were allowed to hold services without issue. They were allowed to collect their tithes through Venmo. They were not, however, allowed to hold super-spreader events and go out and infect people because they caught this thing at church. That's not persecution. That's the state having to play the parent role with them because, at the end of the day, they don't care anywhere near as much about people as they say they do. It's all about their wants, their interests and their insufferable need to be the center of attention in all matters religious, social, and political and the instant they aren't.... waaaaaaaah! I'm being persecuted! Pretty fucking pathetic if you ask me.
And here's the kicker: they're doing all of this on their own. There is literally no group out there calling this persecution. There is no one expressly telling evangelicals not to mask up or get a vaccine. In fact, the National Association of Evangelicals endorses vaccines.
Now, I'm not about to turn around here and say, “Well, ya know what? Atheists are persecuted in America, too!” Not because I'd be wrong (because I'd be right), but because if I did I'd be playing the same game they are: taking isolated instances and making them out to be somehow significant enough to show proof for the argument. But here's a little of what it can be like to be an atheist in America, especially in areas dominated by Christianity (and that's most of them).
In a BBC article called “The Stigma of Being an Atheist in the US” we learn about what CAN happen when you're an out atheist in an Evangelical majority. Things like being estranged from your family. Things like walking down the halls of your high school and being stared at or spit on. Having to attend atheist events incognito and not talk to anyone from the press or have your picture taken because you're not out to your family and they might disown you. Being forced to go to Bible camp to be indoctrinated and deprogrammed. In America, it is more acceptable to be GAY than it is to be atheist. According to a pew research study, a majority of Americans say they would trust a rapist before they would trust an atheist. The same source also reported that Americans would rather have a president who was either in their 70s, or openly gay, or who had never held any public office than one that was atheist. All this while the number of people who call themselves religious is falling. But, as I've said before, we have a long way to go. Some atheist organizations like the FFRF are calling for more of us to “come out.” “Many Americans think they have never met another atheist, but that is because so many are afraid to publicly acknowledge it," said Andrew Seidel, an attorney for the Foundation.
In the meantime there's a church a quarter mile from my house that blares their messaging loudly and without care of who hears it every Sunday all Summer long. It starts in July and continues through Labor Day. Open air services in the middle of downtown with decibel levels that can be heard over about a 2 mile radius at times.
It's a clear example of a public nuisance and it violates every city noise ordinance with arrogant defiance, but no one does anything about it. Why? Because we, as a society, have gotten so used to treating these people like the emotional and intellectual toddlers that they are, we just ignore it. Because if we say something, we're persecuting them. We're trouncing on their religious liberty. We're denying them their freedom of speech. Bullshit. Let me say it again: freedom of speech grants you an opinion, NOT an audience.
I should be able to sit in my backyard without having to listen to a hundred people spewing off in tongues or loud preaching that goes well into the afternoon. I could sit there and tell myself I'm being persecuted, but I'm not. I'm being mildly irritated and inconvenienced by a group of people who lack the maturity necessary to understand what it means to be good neighbors. And that inability to function in the community is at the heart of the evangelical persecution delusion.
Being estranged from your family, ridiculed, and forced into deprogramming situations are real things that happen to atheists all the time, particularly here in the U.S. I never heard of an atheist disowning a child who decides to be born again. If it had happened with my son, I would not have been happy. I would have kept the counter-point in front of him and made certain he got both sides of every issue. I would have made sure he was exposed to logic and reason. But I would never have disowned him. Because he's my son.
I have no clue how some people do it. You carry a child in your body for nine months. You care for them, nurture them to adulthood, then shun them because they have brains that can't accept that a reanimated zombie who is his own father had to sacrifice himself to himself to atone for rules he himself established... and that we must now accept his gift of atonement or burn for all eternity. And that all of this is necessary because a girl ate an apple given to her by a talking snake. “You don't accept that? We're done with you.” I can't even imagine it.
And yet, these people have the audacity to treat a message on a coffee cup as persecution because the people around them refuse to believe what they do. And while you might be able to kick your kid out of your house, you can't get society out of your face. Secularization keeps coming at you and forces you to at least publicly accept that not everyone believes what you do.
Let's try to remember that more Americans have an aversion to atheists than they do to rapists. Let's also remember that many of the same places around the world that persecute Christians also persecute Atheists. They persecute anyone who doesn't believe what they do. It's not exclusive to Christianity. And if you're still in this vile religion or are still on the fence about it and you really want to see what persecution looks like, do a little googling on places where it's dangerous to be gay and what happens to you if you're found out. When you're done with that, look at your starbucks cup with “happy holidays” written on it and remind yourself that you really don't have it all that bad.
Lastly, and I will keep this brief: do a little research on how Christians have treated people who don't agree with them over the centuries. Educate yourself about things like the crusades, and the Inquisition and the Maleus Maleficarum. Educate yourself about Naziism and the holocaust. Educate yourself about white supremacy, particularly the Ku Klux Klan. These things will provide you with crystal clear examples of what persecution really is and all of those things were started and perpetuated by Christians. Every last one.
More blood has been shed in the name of Jesus than in that of any other deity ever. Islamic extremism can't hold a candle to the atrocities that Christianity has brought upon the world and white evangelicals have the audacity to sit there and say that THEY feel more persecuted than a muslim? Again, look up the crusades and get yourself a clue if you're still in that camp.
People have ben drawn and quartered, dismembered, and boiled in oil in the name of your so-called savior. In the name of the person who instructed the people who did those things to love their neighbors as themselves. And you want to call yourself persecuted because you were asked to leave the mall because you were too aggressive handing out tracts? Get over it. Take a good hard look at what you've been taught about this and ask yourself what you're really being denied here. Because once you stop listening to the lies, once you break free of the gaslighting, and once you start daring to think for yourself, you'll be embarrassed by how you used to see religious persecution. But there's an upside: you'll also be one step closer to getting and staying unbound.