Christian persecution is a major issue today. Millions of Christians are suffering from horrible abuse, torture, and even death just for being Christians, and this is no where so pronounced as it is in the Islamic nations. There is a desperate need to help these people save their lives because so often, there is to little done too late. It is one of the unmentioned crimes of the 21st century and will get worse as the future continues.
But there is something else here that must also be noted, and that is that not all that is called “persecution” is actually not persecution at all but rather the opposite- the basic administration of justice. This might sound strange, even harsh, and there are many aspects of this. However, I’d like to explain this in the context of two news stories that have been circulating about Christian persecution.
The first is a story out of Kazakhstan carried on a forum and that was picked up by Open Doors, a large Protestant Christian rescue and Bible distribution organization. According to this story, two Jehovah’s Witnesses were arrested by secret police for illegal preaching and under the charge of ‘undermining public security,’ notably for their words against Islam and the Orthodox Church:
On 18 January Kazakhstan’s National Security Committee (KNB) secret police arrested two Jehovah’s Witnesses in the capital Astana, for discussing their faith with young people recruited as KNB informers. A court ordered Teymur Akhmedov and Asaf Guliyev to be held in pre-trial detention for two months, although Akhmedov is suffering from cancer and needs hospitalisation.The Jehovah’s Witnesses appear, as in other cases involving Muslim and Protestant prisoners of conscience, to have been set up for prosecution by the KNB using informers it recruited. These informers invited the Witnesses to meetings the KNB recorded.Judge Akmaral Isayeva claimed that the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ “crime presents a danger to the public in that it violates a fundamental constitutional principle, the principle of equality”. She goes on to claim that “observance of this principle is one of most important conditions for the existence and development of any civilised society.”The Judge was presented with a report from the National Scientific Center for Oncology and Transplantation (the national cancer centre) which “recommends an operation and requests that Akhmedov undergo an examination before being hospitalised”. His lawyer argued that he should therefore held in house arrest to enable treatment. But the Judge refused this, violating the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (known as the Mandela Rules), claiming that the “report is a recommendation”. The Judge has been repeatedly unavailable for questions, so Forum 18 has been unable to ask her how her decision demonstrated that Kazakhstan was a “civilised society” (source)
Notice how I did not call Jehovah’s Witnesses “Christians,” but it was rather Open Doors that did. That is ironic, since they are not Christians. This is something that Catholics, Orthodox, and the vast majority of Protestant and Evangelicals have said for years. Among the beliefs of JWs are that they do not believe in the Trinity (saying that the Holy Spirit is an impersonal force and that God is greater than Jesus), they use their own Bible translation which they intentionally modify (and has been a source of much controversy for years), they believe that salvation come strictly by the number of works and time spent in volunteer for their cult (which they refer to specifically as “God’s spirit guided organization”), and they do not believe in hell.
Charles Taze Russell, founder of the JWs
This is just for starters. There are many, many more and stranger aspects of the JW cult. For example, only 144,000 people will make it to heaven- the rest will live on earth which they will rebuild (literally) with their hands after all non-JWs are destroyed at the end of the world because, according to JW theology, only JWs can have the hope of going to Heaven based strictly on their works because basically God hates all non-JWs (this is the reason why JWs who leave are encouraged to shun their families and if a person returns, he is put on a ‘probation’ period where he is shunned by the congregation for sometimes years). Such a theology would be interesting, but the fact is that the JWs continually proclaim the date the world is going to end and then keep changing it to a later time because they keep erring. It is not a surprise, since the founder of the JWs, Charles Taize Russell, was a known criminal who went to court for fraud and who also was highly influenced by the theosophical occultist Helena Blatavatsky.
The JW sect is an evil cult. They do not serve Christ in any way, but serve a god of their own making. Their cult was founded by a criminal influenced by the marketing and popular occultism of his day, and has only served to exploit people to earn money for a few while dividing families and undermining the cohesion of a society by attacking people who are not part of their organization. It is an evil organization which has no place in any society. Now Kazakhstan is a predominately Muslim society with a Russian Orthodox minority and a very small Catholic presence. However, it is very close to Russia and in spite of its Islamic background gets along very well with Russia. Both Kazakhstan and Russia would like to keep relations with each other positive. This does not mean that the gospel cannot be preached, but that it must be presented in a way that is respectful to the people of that area in their situation.
While I do not know the details, something that I do know well from having been around Russia and Slavic people for a long time is that American missionaries from Evangelical Protestant, Baptist, and Pentecostals and smaller cults such as the JWs and Mormons are hated in those nations because of how they act and the division they cause. Such churches promote often times as a part of their official beliefs a hatred of Catholicism and Orthodoxy that is as strong as their ‘faith’ in Christ. They are infamous for street preaching and bullying people, even starting physical fights as part of their ‘proclaiming the gospel.’
There is a Catholic Mission which I support in Russia, and this is the Mission to Magadan run by Fr. Michael Shields out of the Diocese of Anchorage. Magadan is a city in the far east which was part of the GULAG system during Soviet times, and if you survived there you were sentenced to a life of poverty. Magadan has since improved greatly since the fall of communism, but there are still many problems. Fr. Michael has been there for many years, and he is know for his extensive work especially in helping young families, persons with addictions to alcohol and drugs, and feeding the hungry (in a recent letter he traveled almost 250 miles just to collect a donation of potatoes to help 80 families- while simple, in parts of Siberia a little bit of potatoes might be all that some people have).
Now Fr. Shields is a real missionary. He is respected by the people and the respect he has is proven by his deeds. Compare this to what I described above with the other American ‘missionaries’- they come in and sow division, anger, and chaos- all things which are not the ‘fruits of the spirit’ but rather the division of hell. There is a reason why Kazakhstan and Russia arrest such people- they are not “being persecuted,” but they in fact are the persecutors who are undermining the cohesion of society and should be treated like the criminals they are.
Now in a second story coming out of southern Mexico, an American Evangelical news source reported that a ‘Christian’ was jailed, fined, and asked to leave the area for ‘refusing to deny his evangelical faith and take part in traditional Roman Catholic festivities that often involve drunkenness’:
A Christian in Chiapas state, Mexico was summarily jailed for three days the evening of Jan. 7 for refusing to deny his faith and contribute to Traditionalist Catholic festivals, according to an advocacy group.
Local authorities who practice the Traditionalist Catholic blend of indigenous pagan and Roman Catholic rituals also threatened Juan Gabriel Lopez Perez, 28, that he would not be released unless he sold his house and left the area within 20 days, the Coordination of Christian Organizations (COC) said in a statement. When Lopez Perez fell ill two days into his 72-hour sentence and was temporarily released to obtain medical care, his wife was obliged to serve the time in jail in his place, according to the organization.
Authorities in Rancheria El Encanto, Municipality of Las Margaritas, had given Lopez Perez the option of paying a 5,000-peso (US$240) fine or 72 hours in jail. After refusing to pay the fine, he was sent to jail at 7 p.m. for declining to sign a document denying his evangelical faith and agreeing to contribute to the Traditionalist Catholic festivals, which frequently involve drunkenness.
“On Jan. 9, the health condition of the prisoner were getting worse from the climatic conditions, so that in spite of requests for medical attention, it was not possible until night, when it was proposed that another person go to jail in his place, as a doctor had diagnosed the onset of bronchitis,” the COC statement read. “His wife, Eduvina Lopez Santiz, went into the jail at that time.”
After returning from his medical visit, Lopez Perez was sent to another part of the jail complex more insulated from the cold, and his wife decided to remain with him in spite of being given the opportunity to return home, according to COC.
A government official, Jose Avenamar Peres Santiago, had arrived to try to persuade the family to pay the fine “to do away with the problem,” and he urged them to leave their Pentecostal church, according to the advocacy group. Peres Santiago also offered them funds to pay the fine, which they declined on grounds that accepting it would not guarantee that they would not face further persecution for belonging to the Pentecostal church, according to COC.
The incarceration came after area Christians had filed a complaint in December against Traditionalist Catholic authorities cutting their water supply and suspending government benefits and medical services, as well as denying their children the right to remain in school, according to COC. (source)
I don’t know what happened here specifically, but I have a few observations.
First, this man is from Chiapas- one of the southernmost states in Mexico on the border of Guatemala the due to is proximity to Guatemala has been a target for American Protestant missionaries and has been hit hard. Many people here are indeed Protestants. The American missionaries have caused a great deal of division in Mexico and the fruits of their rotten heresy still fester in that nation, such as we have noted with the infamous John Eldridge. Famous for his work with the “manliness” movement in American Evangelicalism, his work in Mexico gave birth to and he supported the infamous “Los Caballeros Templarios” movement in which a convert inspired by his works, Nazario Moreno Gonzalez, created an evangelical cult and began a reign of terror in which his cult ritually sacrificed hundreds of people and was part of the evil drug wars in Mexico.
Second, notice how specific details are left out in this article. What was the “festivities” being described? Who was telling him to “deny his evangelical faith?”” What was the context of this whole story? What are the details? Again, I am not denying that something may have happened here. What I do see is a questionable lack of evidence, especially with regard to the charges he is bringing.
Third, and most importantly, as we and many, many other people have said before us, Islam is simply the final stage of all heresy, and the fact is that due to the influence of American “missionaries,” heresy has increased greatly in Mexico. This is most pronounced in the state of Chiapas. Therefore, it is of no surprise to us that Chiapas is also the biggest center of Islam in Mexico with converts being made from among the native Mexican people:
Molino de los Arcos is one of the poorest neighbourhoods of San Cristóbal de las Casas, the second largest city in Chiapas and popular with tourists for its colonial beauty. The barrio is ethnically almost entirely indigenous, with Tzotzil Mayan as the dominant language. On Fridays, though, you can hear the slow, monotonous Arab chants of Muslim prayer. In a wooden shack, painted with Arab religious phrases, some twenty Tzotzil Muslim families have established a small place of worship.
“This is where we cleanse our spirits and pray to Allah. Not everyone came today, some people have to work,” Imam Salvador Lopez Lopez smiles. “But we are doing well. Our community is still small, we are maybe two hundred, but little by little we’re growing.”
Lopez converted to Islam in 1995 and adopted the Arab name of Muhammad Amin. He was one of the first Tzotzils to embrace the religion. He describes his conversion as a tough, two-year period of soul searching. “There is a lot of ignorance in Chiapas about Islam. Nobody really knew what it was and at first I myself wasn’t sure it was the thing for me. My family didn’t agree with it either at first. It was hard.”
Despite the opposition Islam is doing well in Chiapas. The Muslims have opened a madrasah or Qur’an school, an Islamic mission, a carpenter’s shop and a pizza restaurant. They teach Arabic to new converts and even organize the hajj or pilgrimage to Mecca, which many indigenous Muslims have already undertaken. Islam is growing slowly but surely, says Imam Lopez:
“In this particular mosque there are seventeen Islamic families now. Gradually more people are opening themselves up to the word of Allah. Yes, I think we are here to stay.” (source)
Congratulations, American “missionaries.” This is the fruit of your heresy in Chiapas.
The unifying theme between both of these stories is the propagation of heresy. Heresy throughout Christian history is traditionally punished severely because it propagates false ideas about the nature of God and His revelation. I speak not of mere disciplinary disagreements, or cases when charges of heresy were falsely used to silence public criticism since both are sins and there are many examples of people abusing this for their own ends. What I speak of are clear cases of heresy, such as Arianism.
Arianism is the heresy that Jesus is a superman but not God. Spread originally by the Libyan priest Arius, his heresy infected 75% of all Christians and 80% of bishops. Coming at the dawn of the 4th century, Arius’ teaching endured for centuries after his death and provided the basis for Islamic theology’s denial of Jesus’ divinity.
Arius the heretic being devoured in hell while Melchizedek the righteous looks on. But if he were alive today, Melchizedek would be called an “intolerant religious bigot” and Arius would have a TV show called “Your Best Life Now.”
Now I have said before that the more things change, the more they stay the same. If we went back to Arius’ time or, better yet, Arius came to the 21st century, you can bet that Arius would say that he is a Christian, that he is a “follower of Jesus Christ” and a “believer.” He would have a massive YouTube Channel with millions of subscribers, maybe he would have a TV show- perhaps a multi-million dollar ministry and a private jet- and a megachurch the size of a football stadium. He might even have a “miracle” program. He would have all the trapping of a contemporary “Christian minister,” and yet, because of his false teachings, all of this would be for naught, as he would be a damnable heretic teaching people lies that would lead them to perdition.
Robert Tilton, a.k.a. “The Farting Preacher.” While his expressions are funny and the sound overlays match perfectly, there is nothing funny about bilking $80 million out of people in “charitable donations” and then going to jail for it. But this is the reality of today- truth does not matter for Christianity in America (and also in many places in the world), but what matters is that is provides heretics (such as Arius) or thieves (such as Tilton) a place to get fame, money, and power while deceiving the people following them. This is why doctrine, not feelings, must be the center of worship, theology, and Christian life.
As Ted has laid out beautifully in his most recent book (which I encourage you to read, by the way, as I have already done so) discusses the concept of theosis, or that as God became man so that man might become like God, so as man becomes like God he takes on His attributes and seeks to execute both His mercy and His justice as a part of his mission as a Christian, which is something that all Christians are called to do. This is likewise the basis of Christian Holy War as well as the reason why heretics were rightfully, under a Christian government, suppressed and when necessary, executed.
This is also why you see among many Protestant sects such an obsession with promoting notorious heretics of old as well as the reason why they cannot call out heresy among themselves, because to do so would not only mean the acknowledgment of heresy’s existence, but also force them (the honest ones, at least) to ask “what is the authority on the teachings on (fill in a subject here)?” This would implicate almost all of them in some kind of heresy, since ultimately many would find no basis for their teachings other than their opinion on a matter as the consistent teachings of not only the Catholic Church, but the sources which the Church uses (sacred scripture, sacred tradition, the writings of the saints, the Church councils, the historical documents, etc.) would be unable to be refuted. Therefore, in the interest of protecting themselves, they must bash the Catholic Church while at the same time supporting everybody who calls themselves a “Christian” regardless of their heresy in order to avoid becoming a target themselves. This is not just dishonest- it is giving license to heresy that as we know when left unchecked or encouraged will lead to apostasy.
Christian persecution is real. To a Muslim, Hindu, or other pagan, it does not matter what particular Christian beliefs you hold or what sect you are a part of because it is the hatred for Christ which drives the persecution. This cannot ever be forgotten. However, at the same time, not all that is called persecution is actually persecution but the righteous execution of justice upon people for their sins, especially in the case of propagating blatant heresy which we know full well leads to apostasy and, in its final form, Islamization.