Where Have All the Christians Gone?

May 28th, 2014 Posted by Susan's Musings 12 comments

I learned a great deal of Bible and mathematics, history and literature, science and Hebrew in the highly academic high school I attended. The school prized its Regent and Merit Scholarship winners and touted its high Ivy League college admission statistics. I am grateful for my education, but there were important lessons learned outside the classroom that guide my behavior today as much, if not more, than the scholastic ones.

Since the school focused heavily on grades and achievement, the occasions when the administration cancelled classes made a deep impression on me. And throughout my four year tenure, they did so with surprising frequency. During those years, Jews were forbidden to leave the Soviet Union and those who tried –known as refuseniks- were arrested and sent to the gulag. In an effort to raise the profile on this issue, rallies were organized. At those times, classrooms were shuttered.  We, along with hordes of teenagers from other Jewish schools overflowed the subway system on our way to protest outside the United Nation building in Manhattan.

At fifteen years old, missing class generated excitement and admittedly, our focus at that age was usually on meeting up with friends who attended different schools. Yet, the underlying message burrowed deep inside us. We were responsible for other Jews, no matter where they lived and what language they spoke.

I’ve been thinking of these experiences as I try to understand why my Christian friends are not organizing mass rallies outside the White House, Congress and the United Nations. Why aren’t millions of Christians flooding the streets to protest Meriam Yehya Ibrahim Ishag’s sentence to lashings and death for marrying an American Christian? In Sudan, she and her twenty-month-old son have been kept in disgusting prison conditions for the ‘crime’ of her marriage and rejection of Islam. They will now be joined by her newborn baby girl.

I know Christian friends that are aghast as story after story unfolds of Christian persecution in various countries under Moslem authority.  Surely, this issue should transcend theological and ideological differences among churches and bring masses out to protest. Certainly, these protests should be joined by Jews, Buddhists, atheists and other decent people regardless of religion. I know my husband and I would be there standing shoulder-to-shoulder protesting the anti-Christian oppression being practiced in so many of these vicious regimes. Yet the onus for their organization falls on fellow Christian believers.  I have trouble understanding the silence in the public square.

The United States doesn’t have important trade and security agreements with Sudan as we did with the Soviet Union. Our influence in the world is lessening under the Obama administration. Nonetheless, we are still a powerful and influential nation.  Greater strategic planners than I can plot what may actually be done to help this woman and protect Christians around the world. My memories of high school tell me that in addition to encouraging oppression, the lack of an outspoken mass response misses a priceless opportunity for inspiring the next generation.  

Am I missing some information or misunderstanding something? Please let me know in the comment section below.

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12 comments

James says:

If my information is correct, Judaism has become fragmented. There are Reform, Conservative, Hassidic, and other sects of Judaism. There are Ashkenazim and Sfaradim (Sephardic) variants. From your TV broadcasts, I know well where you stand: practicing Orthodox Hebrews.
This fragmentation is nothing like the historical fragmentation of Christianity over 2000 years. The Nicene Council threw out the Gnostics, Arians and others. At the Council of Chalcedon the Church threw out the Syrian Nestorians, the Egyptian Copts and the Armenians. The Armenians were smeared as ‘monophysites.’ Later the Patriarch in Constantinople excommunicated the Bishop of Rome, who then styled himself as The Patriarch and likewise excommunicated Constantinople. Later in the Western Roman Catholic Church reformers who criticized priestly simony and injustice, asking the Church to follow God’s rules instead of Man’s rules. But they were cruelly sacrificed as martyrs by burning at the stake. This ultimately precipitated the Protestant Reformation, which further splintered the Church.
One author I have read compares the three major religions of the Middle East, saying essentially that Judaism is a religion of reason, Islam is a religion of faith, and Christianity is a religion of love. Using this model, he writes, Christianity is the most tragic failure of all. This is because the simple religion [love-God-and¬-love-thy-neighbor] of Yeshua became infected early on by the vicious virus of intolerance and marred beyond all recognition. Let us all hope this author is wrong, but I wonder mightily about it.
Once I argued online that the Founding Fathers mention the Deity in the vaguest general terms in our fundamental documents (Declaration, Preamble and Constitution), but they fall conspicuously short of citing the name of Christ. Why would this be? There were some Deists and I suppose, some Unitarians among them, whom the Fathers did not wish to disenfranchise. I suspect the Fathers also made allowances for the Jews, who were also present.
Another sinister reason: Christianity as the cornerstone of a republic is fine, as long as YOUR particular sectarian brand of Christianity is in power. The Fathers still retained fresh memories of a Seven Years’ War and a Thirty Years’ War, bitter religious wars fought in Europe over sectarian principles or pretexts. Many Christians bristle at this diatribe, but I wonder if fragmentation is behind the Christian disunity in this nation. Divide and conquer! Get it?

James, I can’t comment on the history of the Church (I’m just not knowledgeable)but I have always assumed the reasons that the Founding Fathers reference ‘the Creator’ and God in general terms were precisely as you wrote.

Linda Owens says:

There is something that is very sadly missing in the Christian culture that is a very important part of the Jewish culture and that is a sense of community and belonging. Christians (I grew up going to church 3 times a week) go to church one to three times a week, listen to sermons or lessons and that is the extent of their connection. Most connections are public school and other interests. Sometimes, in my efforts to find connection and fellowship, I would attend a Bible study and there might be some gentle ties but not strong connections from that. It was more like attending a college class, read, discuss and answer the questions You cannot know the loneliness and disconnect in the Chritian culture. When I homeschooled my children, I developed strong ties with other moms who were homeschooling their children and teaching them all about the Bible. In most cases, churches were not supportive of families homeschooling their children.
I have been involved in all kinds of volunteer work and that is were I have found friends but not like you have in Jewish community. Years ago I told myself that if I had been born Jewish, I would have found it terribly difficult to convert to becoming a Chritian because of all that people were told they had to give up if they believed Jesus/ Yeshuah was the Messiah. Now I know that was all pagan propaganda…horrible stuff.
In reading the book Pagan Christianity, I discovered that so much of what is in the Chrisitan culture was introduced by the Catholic church and Constantine. There is so much anti-semitism in the Christian culture that people are just totally ignorant of. I discovered so much of what was wrong with the Christian practices but was uncertain about what to do next . My husband and I began to look into the Jewish and Hebrew roots of the Bible. Wow, our faith is in a whole richer more exciting place. We have read some of Rabbi Lapins books and watched you both on Youtube and TV. We now celebrate the Feasts/Holy Convocations of the Adonai with others who have similar beliefs.
As in the old Hebrew wedding customs, the bridegroom who asked for the hand of the prospective bride in marriage and then would go away to prepare a place for her, we now understand Yeshuah’s first coming was just that and that like the bridegroom He has gone to prepare a place for us and will return to rule and reign on this earth.
When I talk to fellow Christians now I ask them “what” about the Old or New Testament isn’t Hebrew or Jewish….What about JesusYeshuah, his apostles, David and the people of faith mentioned in Hebrew’s 11 are not Jewish, they just stare at me. They most often are very leary of any more discussion. We had a Purim Party at our house and invited about 100 people. About 40 people came but had no clue what it was about except for what I told them in my invitiation.
So the main reason you do not see Christians uniting in protest is a real lack of unity that cannot be overcome.. .so many denominations and each church is a cliche that thinks that only their work is authentic work for G-d and there is very little sense of social responsibility because for a long time pastors did not think the church should be involved in politics.
It was so interesting to hear about your high school experience. I would have been a whole hearted demonstrator if I had been there.
I love reading your musings!
Linda Owens
Fillmore, IN

Linda, I’m very surprised at what you are saying because my husband and I know so many churches with a very strong sense of community. And we tend to see the divisiveness in the Jewish community. We are all most critical and see the faults of those we know best. Maybe the Christian world is suffering a bit from having such large numbers rather than being a small minority? Thanks for adding your perspective.

Matia says:

To quote a certain conservative commentator “When is the last time there was a conservative riot in this country? You can’t recall one.” Conservatives typically don’t march, rally or demonstrate. Liberals do. And the liberal Christians won’t rally for this poor woman because as Mark Steyn put it last week, “Where is the strong arm of today’s superpower saying that if you are a US citizen or the wife of a US citizen no country, no third-rate regime can do this kind of stuff to you?” The liberals prefer to ignore this one because it will only be one more thing to highlight how much the current president has weakened this country abroad.

Matia, Maybe it is time for a Christian Tea Party? Not for the political arena but instead to defend Christianity from attack around the world – including the United States where the attack is coming in pages of bureaucratic words, but is there nonetheless.

Jean says:

I can’t speak for Christians as I’m not one, but I suspect they are also somewhat conflicted over the idea of “imposing our values” on another culture, thanks to the 20+ year inculcation of “multiculturalism.” In addition, this generation is conflict-weary – one of the attitudes this president played on to gain his office – so making a fuss over one woman in Sudan may be perceived as making a tempest in a teapot.
Not only has the US lost stature around the world, culturally it has also lost its image as being a standard of morality (perhaps with good reason) for others to emulate.

Jean, The mistake is thinking that it is only one woman. To paraphrase Martin Niemöller (1892–1984)in his famous words that begin, “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.”
They are coming for Christians in the Middle East, they are coming for Christians in Asia, they are coming for Christians in Europe and they will not stop without coming for Christians in America.

James says:

Bravo! Ain’t it the truth?
The intolerance in the Christian world is an after-the-fact superstructure and an artifact of an orthodoxy gone maniacal and vindictive. However the intolerance in the other religion in question is programmed from the outset, a cornerstone article of faith.

Lora says:

Susan, I have been following the story of this woman for awhile. It brings me pain. I can’t fight much for or in Africa, but I do fight here in America. Recently I was encouraged by others to join together to fight the health class curriculum of our children wherein early teen pregnancy was depicted as just another normal teen health issue. We have since had word that this part is being dropped from the lessons in question. You don’t have to be Christian to see unwed teen pregnancy as a moral issue, of course. But this was something we fought and we won.
What can I do for this woman in Africa? I can contact my representatives, and encourage them to make wise choices in dealing with other countries. And I have done that.
I feel frustrated about these sorts of stories- like the 200 teen girls kidnapped. I fight to keep this from beginning here in America. What else can I do? I would love some guidance.

Lora, Firstly, you should feel proud that you stepped in and got results on a local level. That is a big deal! I don’t know what to suggest about the persecution of Christians world-wide or even the growing marginalization of Christians in America, but it just surprises me that there isn’t more mass protest.

Lora says:

Thank you. When I think about it more, I realize that living a life as true to my beliefs as I can is what I can do. I also know that I am raising two daughters who are becoming great women focused on God. There are my comforts.

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