Friday, February 06, 2009
Persecution in America?
Word to the wise: In this post, I will be using theological terms that some casual readers might not understand. I am not going to take the time here to define everything, so if you don't know what something means, look it up or email me. I am primarily addressing this post to fellow Christians of my persuasion.
If you've been involved in media (or the watchdog section of Christian ministry) for a long time, you hear and see a lot of things. You get inundated with a whole boatload of information, facts, stories, rumors, innuendo, urban legends and outright misinformation (lies). The media itself, at least here in America, is supposed to be a watchdog on government. It is supposed to discern the difference between truth and fiction, fact and propaganda. A medium that refuses to do that and begins covering up for the government becomes nothing more than a Stars and Stripes version of Pravda.
It is vitally important for the sake of credibility not to pass on false information, or to gin up panic when there's nothing to a story. I am sure most of you have heard the jokes on talk radio about the "black helicopter" crowd or conspiracy kooks. Sometimes the stories are indeed wild and without foundation, and those who pass them on without either doing their best to check or without disclaimer deserve censure and skepticism. On the other hand, when there are things that surface that are legitimate concerns and the media ignores or covers it up, that indeed at best is an abandonment of their responsibility, and at worst, evil connivance.
Recently, a story broke on WorldNetDaily and other sites about legislation that some say allows for the setting up of detention camps here in America. The legislation was sponsored by Congressman Alcee Hastings (D) Florida, who in his prior judicial career was impeached and removed from the bench. I saw the text of the legislation myself in the Library of Congress archives, so this isn't just a wild story. But here's the rub. The intent of the legislation might be innocuous, or it might not be. The devil is in the details and the interpretation. The devil is in how the law would actually be used and implemented in the case of some national emergency. Would such legislation be used to shelter people in a disaster, or would it be used to round up, imprison and execute people the government found inconvenient? These are the questions being asked.
Implications -- Prophetic and Otherwise
Eschatology is something I don't discuss often on this blog, although it is covered quite often on my radio program. I make no claim to be a prophecy expert. Kevin Johnson, my co-host and president of the Institute for Christian Apologetics, is much more well versed in the minutiae of this subject. However, I do have core principles in this matter. I am firmly premillennial in my eschatology, but not necessarily pretribulational. I have never been able to arrive at a concrete stance on the timing of the Rapture of the church.
Let's do some surmising. Let's say that I am pre-trib, and believe that the church will be taken to Heaven before the Great Tribulation described in Revelation. By most accounts of premillennial scholars, that seven-year period of time will be the worst seven years in the history of the planet. But even if that is true, what is to say that the seven years (or whatever time) before the Great Tribulation won't be the worst ever up to that point? It's something worth pondering.
Why is it that we here in America think we're immune to persecution for our faith? Our nation has a wonderful heritage of freedom indeed, founded by men and women with a strong Judeo-Christian consensus. But we have seen that heritage steadily eroded, and both our federal and state governments become larger, more powerful and more bloated. We have seen the freedoms we enjoy slowly whittled away, although to most people it's imperceptible. We have also seen a growing hostility to the Christian values we believe in and advocate. Look at the hostility over California's Proposition Eight for an example. The long and short of it is that, yes Virginia, it can happen here. And faster than most people realize.
Since the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, a whole series of executive orders have been on the books enabling the federal government to assume dictatorial control of everything in a national emergency. A national emergency can be declared with the stroke of a pen. Even way back during the Civil War in the 1860s, Abraham Lincoln suspended the right of habeas corpus, and appropriated money without the consent of Congress. Lincoln's assassin, John Wilkes Booth, viewed Lincoln as a tyrant, hence his words, sic semper tyrannis , or "thus ever to tyrants."
Back in the opening days of our republic, the story is told of Benjamin Franklin being accosted by a woman who wanted to know what kind of government the Founders were giving America. He is said to have replied, "A republic, madam, if you can keep it." It's ironic, isn't it? A group of men who risked their necks during the Revolutionary War to free this nation from tyranny . . . a group of men who wrote a Declaration of Independence and a Constitution designed to put a curb and bridle on government . . . would surely tear their clothes in despair at seeing what has become of their "noble experiment."
My point thus far? Even if this detention camp legislation was a hoax or urban legend (and from what I can see, it's not) . . . even if declaring martial law in America is not the eventual intent of the current government . . . it doesn't mean it can't happen here. It can, and it just might, if things continue to deteriorate.
In all of this, what's a Christian citizen to do? What attitude ought we to have in the face of potential persecution and death for our faith?
I'll take that up in the next post.