..."and a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the way of holiness; evil minded people shall not travel on it, but it shall be for those wayfarers who are traveling toward God. (Isaiah 35:8, adapted)

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Persecuted Church: Grandmothers in Pennsylvania

I know that in many countries Christians have
it tough, very tough, but this article
caught my eye and I wanted to share it:
(please click here to read it
in its entirety)

Arrested for sharing the Gospel? An expected
outcome in North Korea, China or any Muslim
country on the globe. But in Pennsylvania? Yep.
Arlene Elshinnawy, a 75-year-old grandmother of
three, and Lynda Beckman, a 70-year-old
grandmother of 10 (along with nine others), were
arrested for sharing their faith on the public
sidewalk in Philadelphia, Pa., USA.

They faced 47 years (the rest of their lives) in
jail for spreading the Gospel because of a
Pennsylvania "hate crimes" law that is nearly
identical to H.R. 254 – the "hate crimes" bill
reintroduced in Congress and said to be on
the "fast track" in the House Judiciary Committee.

...Don't believe hate crimes will silence your
freedom of speech and freedom of religion? Think

Pastors in Pennsylvania are now seeking
liability insurance to protect themselves
from being prosecuted under the "hate
speech" law.

Ok. I try to stay out of these kind of
conversations because ardent arguers often
get so entrenched in their positions that
they cannot see the forest for the trees.

I just want to point out that with
legislation such as this, it always
seems to be the good fish that get
caught in the dragnet, in this case
some brave grandmothers, and not
the hate-mongers that were supposed to
be rounded up. Legislation that is
supposed to help can end up hurting.

We ought to know by now that hate is
not something you can legislate against.
And unfortunately, truly hateful people
are often cunning enough to escape
the moral guards set out to restrain

Instead, two grandmothers are
arrested for witnessing to their
faith on the streets of Philly,
while on these same streets
drug dealers destroy our teenagers;
child molesters prey on children;
terrorists, no doubt with murderous
intent, and radioactive dirty bombs
in their backpacks, can walk freely
and boldly in plain view of the
Liberty Bell. Why aren't we catching

We can say, "our founding fathers
never would have wanted such a
thing to happen to these grandma's."
True, to a degree, but again, the
problem is deeper then anything
we can legislate and trying to
do so may catch the innocent
in a snare while leaving the
guilty to continue their plans
of destruction. Morality cannot
and should not be legislated by
politicians because that is not
their arena or their forte. The
founding fathers could see that
much clearly.

I live in Massachusetts, the original
bay colony of the Puritans, who came
here to escape religious persecution.
In Boston, I think smack dab in
front of the State House, stands a statue of
Mary Dyer, a sweet Quaker lady
hung by her neck for the dastardly
crime of being a Quaker in a Puritan
establishment. My same state
was the home of the Salem
Witch Trials
, which was really
less about catching witches
then it was about politically
correct public opinion gone
absolutely wild.

Rev. Increase Mather, one of
the leading Puritan ministers,
recognizing the situation was
spinning out of control, said
this: "It were better that ten
suspected witches should
escape than one innocent person
should be condemned." I think
he could see that justice
might not be served by religiously
caffeinated people with an agenda.

After all was said and done, a lot
of people ended up dead by the
most cruel means, and its hard to know
if any of them were guilty of what
they had been accused of. Not to
say that there wasn't excess
religious caffeination on both
sides of the issues. There still is,
I might sadly add.

If this same scenario were to happen in
present day Massachusetts,
who might the persecuted parties be?
Christians, take heed...when you
see the abomination.....hmmmm...
I wildly speculate....

Biblical Christianity is already,
or is quickly becoming, not only
out of vogue in America,
but on the endangered list
as far as free practice.

I don't think that this is
what most Americans have
in mind, but never-the-less
that is where we could
quickly end up if we don't
watch out for how we try to deal
with the very real human problem
of hate. If the prevailing cultural
mindset determines what "moral"
is, then things can quickly
change as public opinion changes.
Politically speaking, it is usually
the ruling power that determines
what persecution is, and how it
will be dealt with. May I ask
who the ruling power is and what
might their agenda be? Just asking.

We as Christians are called to
love, not just our friends,
but our enemies. The last
vestiges of religious freedom
for a faith that includes
a pro-active evangelism plan,
or the desire to voice a
strong opinion about matters
that have been central to
the gospel since its inception,
seems to be facing certain
and quickly expedited govern-
mental punishment.

Is "middle of road" Christianity
the only faith the government is
willing to sanction?

Is a Christian faith that believes
in evangelism going to be put on the same
level as Islamic jihad? Then perhaps
we are just playing into the hands
of the terrorists. For they, too,
want us to outlaw the very thing
that can help us: a deeply held moral
conviction, but one that is rooted in
justice, freedom, and genuine love of
our neighbor. Our grannies don't have
suicide bombs in their purses. It
takes radical courage to stand up
for what you really value and believe.
Our enemies are committed to the
radical, are we? The only thing
middle-of-the-road about terrorists
is their bomb placement. If we
try to legislate against bad
passions then we might inadvertently
stifle the good passions needed
to overcome them.

Here is my thought: in times
of smooth sailing, God has
used Americans to proclaim
the gospel to just about
every land and nation. Where
we have failed to do it
purely, and in the meek Spirit
of Christ, even in our
own land, God will surely judge.
But we have done it and
I trust we shall continue
to do it in a way that
honors Christ. This is our
call as Christians.

Now that the seas are not
so smooth, and sailing may
not be a possibility, we
need to, for a season,
stay home and repair the
state of our own boat. It
is sinking fast.

For those of you who think
that Christians do better
as a persecuted minority,
you may get your chance
to test the theory personally.
Prepare yourself.

Pray for the persecuted church.

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