Christian persecution complex

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Christian persecution complex is a belief, attitude or world view that Christian values and Christians are being oppressed by social groups and governments.[1] This belief is thought to be held by certain American Protestant Churches[2], some Christian- or Bible-based cults and in Europe as well[3]. It is has been called the "Evangelical"[4], "American Christian" [5] or "Christian Right" [6] "Persecution Complex."

Early Christianity[edit]

According to Candida Moss[a] the Christian "persecution complex" appeared during the era of early Christianity due to internal Christian identity politics.[8] Moss suggested that the idea of persecution is cardinal to the worldview of Christianity, noting that it creates the impression that Christians are a minority that are facing a war - even though they are numerically superior.[9] This perception is grounded in the manichaeistic belief that the world is divided into two factions, one led by God and the other by Satan. In this view there can be no compromise between the two, and even attempting to dialogue or engage with "the other" is seen as a form of collaboration with it. [10] Medieval historian Paul Cavill[b] argues that the New Testament teaches that persecutions are inherent to Christianity.[12]

20th and 21st centuries[edit]

Many find it difficult to define the origin of the Christian persecution complex. According to Elizabeth Castelli,[c][14] some set the starting point in the middle of the 20th century, following a series of court rulings that declared public places to be out of bounds for religious activity (e.g. morning prayer in schools).[15] However, it[clarification needed] became apparent in the United States in the 1990s with the adoption of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 as the official foreign policy. A few years later, the September 11 attacks boosted its development. 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. Moreover, it routinely deploys the archetypal figure of the martyr as a source of unquestioned religious and political authority".[16]

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.[17]

Hornback notes that the Christian persecution complex is widespread among nationalists in Europe, who feel that they are defending the continent from a new Islamic invasion.[18].Stavrakopoulou explains that the advances of secularism, such as dropping catechism from public schools, is perceived by some Christians as persecution.[19]

Christian persecution complex has an impact on popular culture, with films which "imagine embattled Christians prevailing against entrenched secularist opposition".[20] David Ehrlich, a film critic, describes how the persecution complex is fueled by certain films and media [21]

In a conversation at the British Humanist Congress in 2014, Stavrakopoulou suggested that some Christian fundamentalists perceive the advancement of secularism as a threat, and that this may support the idea of a persecution complex.[22]

Hostility towards Christians[edit]

American sociologist George Yancey finds that the perception of some Christians that they are persecuted is not unfounded, and that anti-Christian hostility is real. Yancey, in a 2017 publication, suggests that levels of anti-Christian hostility have not significantly risen over the past few decades (in the United States), however those with this hostility have gained economic power and thus "... Christian activists may be correct in that they now pay a stiffer price for that animosity.” [23][24]

Some Christian journalists point out that "American Christians have a persecution complex" while noting that the persecution of Christians is real in the Middle East.[25]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Candida Moss is the Edward Cadbury Professor of Theology at the University of Birmingham.[7]
  2. ^ Paul Cavill is a Lecturer in Early Modern British History at the University of Cambridge.[11]
  3. ^ Elizabeth A. Castelli is the Ann Whitney Olin Professor of Religion at Barnard College.[13]

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ Hoover 2015, p. 23: According to Hoover Linda "...Castelli (2007) believed the reluctance to self-disclose could be the “Christian persecution complex” (p. 156), an ideology that Christian values are unfavorably targeted by social and governmental opposition..."
  2. ^ "Christians In The U.S. Are Not Persecuted", Huffpost, 05/12/2017
  3. ^ Hornback R. (2018) Afterword: White Nationalism, Trolling Humor as Propaganda, and the “Renaissance” of Christian Racism in the Age of Trump. In: Racism and Early Blackface Comic Traditions. Palgrave Studies in Theatre and Performance History. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. Quote: " In so doing, he, his speech writers, and advisors were pandering to the rising Christian white nationalist persecution complex in Poland and throughout Europe, giving voice to a message that Western Christianity—and Europeans—will defeat fundamentalist Islamism. He even concluded with an overt call to a modernday Crusade."
  4. ^ Grace Ji-Sun Kim. "The Evangelical Persecution Complex", The Atlantic, Aug 4, 2014
  5. ^ Alan Noble. Ed Cyzewski, "Are American Christians really being persecuted – or are they just being manipulated?", Christian Today, Tue 18 Apr 2017
  6. ^ "The raging hypocrisy at the center of the Christian right's persecution complex". 2015-07-05.
  7. ^ "Professor Candida Moss". birmingham.ac.uk. Retrieved 2018-02-21.
  8. ^ Janes & Houen 2014, p. 24: Indeed, a recent study by Candida Moss, The Myth of Persecution]] has suggested that Christian "persecution complex" was the result of internal Christian identity politics
  9. ^ Årsheim 2016, p. 7: Candida Moss has argued that the notion of persecution is all but essential to Christianity as a worldview, tracing the discursive construction of martyrdom from Antiquity and up to the present, pointing to its constitutive role for the self-understanding of Christians as embattled minorities – even while numerically superior
  10. ^ Moss 2013, p. 254: The myth of persecution is theologically grounded in the division of the world into two parties, one backed by God and the other by Satan...And everyone knows you cannot reason with devil. Even when devil is not explicitly invoked, the rhetoric of persecution suggests that the persecutors are irrational and immoral and the persecuted are innocent and brave. In a world filled with persecution, efforts to negotiate or even reason with one's persecutors are interpreted as collaboration and moral compromise. We should not attempt to understand the other party, because to do so would be to cede ground to injustice and hatred
  11. ^ "Dr Paul Cavill". hist.cam.ac.uk. Retrieved 2018-02-27.
  12. ^ Cavill 2013, p. 81: The early christian persecution complex is often underemphasised, but is important. The New Testament teaches that persecution is the inevitable by-product of effective Christianity
  13. ^ "Elizabeth Castelli Barnard College". barnard.edu. Retrieved 2018-02-21.
  14. ^ Castelli 2008: "There is no precise origin point for the contemporary discursive project of the Christian persecution complex"
  15. ^ Castelli 2007, p. 157:For those who have upped the ante by recently deciding to characterize the circumstances of Christians in the United States as the “war on Christians, the historical turning point tends to reside in the mid-twentieth century, when a series of federal and Supreme court decisions declared certain public institutions off-limits for sectarian religious activity (e.g., prayer and Bible reading in public schools). For the Christian activists who view these court decisions as opening skirmishes in the war on Christians, the decisions and the “activist judges” who promulgated them effectively—and dangerously— banned God from the public square.
  16. ^ Årsheim 2016, p. 7:According to Elizabeth Castelli, this engagement can be ascribed to a ‘Christian persecution complex’ that gathered pace throughout the 1990s, with the adoption of the US International Religious Freedom Act in 1998 as a significant milestone, and with the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001 as an accelerating factor (Castelli 2007: 173). 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 antireligious bigotry and persecution. Moreover, it routinely deploys the archetypal figure of the martyr as a source of unquestioned religious and political authority.” (Castelli 2007: 154).
  17. ^ Ben-Asher 2017, p. 22: «...The notion that Christianity is under attack is prevalent in contemporary arguments for religious exemptions. Conservative legislatures, politicians and the media frequently characterize issues such as same-sex marriage and the ACA’s Contraceptives Mandate as attacks on Christians or Christianity....
  18. ^ Hornback R. (2018) Afterword: White Nationalism, Trolling Humor as Propaganda, and the “Renaissance” of Christian Racism in the Age of Trump. In: Racism and Early Blackface Comic Traditions. Palgrave Studies in Theatre and Performance History. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. Quote: " In so doing, he, his speech writers, and advisors were pandering to the rising <Christian white nationalist persecution complex in Poland and throughout Europe, giving voice to a message that Western Christianity—and Europeans—will defeat fundamentalist Islamism. He even concluded with an overt call to a modernday Crusade."
  19. ^ at 22:40) It was recorded at the World Humanist Congress 2014, Oxford, UK. Held by IHEU, run by the British Humanist Association (BHA).[1].
  20. ^ Carey, G. (2017). Daniel as an Americanized Apocalypse. Interpretation, 71(2), 190–203. https://doi.org/10.1177/0020964316688052 Discusses in extense the CP Complex. "Scholars and journalists alike have identified an “evangelical persecution complex” In our culture. This term unfairly stigmatizes all evangelicals but identifies a widely shared sensitivity. Some Christians major in the persecution complex, even to the point of associating florists who will not serve same-sex couples with actual Christian martyrs in the Middle East.24 Recent films like God’s Not Dead and God’s Not Dead 2 imagine embattled Christians prevailing against entrenched secularist opposition" That explains the film critique that was mentioned above.
  21. ^ Ehrlich, David; Ehrlich, David (2018-03-29). "'God's Not Dead: A Light in the Darkness' Review: A Hellishly Bad Drama About America's Christian Persecution Complex". IndieWire. Retrieved 2018-12-10.
  22. ^ Video at 22:40) It was recorded at the World Humanist Congress 2014, Oxford, UK. Held by IHEU, run by the British Humanist Association (BHA).[2].
  23. ^ George Yancey, "Has Society Grown More Hostile Towards Conservative Christians? Evidence from ANES Surveys", Review of Religious Research, pp 1–24, Abstract
  24. ^ KATE SHELLNUTT, "Study: Anti-Christian Bias Hasn’t Grown. It’s Just Gotten Richer", Christianity Today, OCTOBER 10, 2017
  25. ^ Jonathan Merritt, "In the Middle East, not America, Christians are actually persecuted", Religion News Service, April 3, 2013

Sources[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Årsheim, Helge (2016). "Internal affairs? Assessing NGO engagement for religious freedom at the United Nations and beyond". In Stensvold, Anne (ed.). Religion, state and the United Nations: Value politics. London: Routledge. p. 79-94. ISBN 978-1-138-93865-6. SSRN 2892536.
  • Ben-Asher, Noah (September 21, 2017). "Faith-Based Emergency Powers". Harvard Journal of Law and Gender. Forthcoming. SSRN 3040902.
  • Cavill, Paul (2013). "Anglo-Saxons Saints' Lives and Deaths". In Kojecký, Roger; Tate, Andrew (eds.). Visions and revisions: The word and the text (Unabridged ed.). Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4438-4332-4.
  • Castelli, Elizabeth A. (2007). "Persecution Complexes: Identity Politics and the "War on Christians"". Differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies. 18 (3): 152–180. doi:10.1215/10407391-2007-014. ISSN 1040-7391.
  • Castelli, Elizabeth A. (17 April 2008). "Persecution Complexes". The Revealer.
  • Janes, Dominic; Houen, Alex, eds. (2014). Martyrdom and terrorism: Pre-modern to contemporary perspectives. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. p. 24. ISBN 978-0-19-995985-3.
  • Hoover, Linda (2015). Effects of Negative Media on Evangelical Christians' Attitudes Toward Evangelism (PhD).
  • Moss, Candida (2013). The myth of persecution how early Christians invented a Story of Martyrdom. New York: HarperOne. ISBN 978-0-06-210454-0.