The answer to the titular question is so clearly "no" that I would normally not dignify it with a response. But commenter Publius, who otherwise seems to be reasonable and rational, presented some data
to support the proposition that "finding Christian harassment in the past few years is like fishing with dynamite." So I decided to take the time to investigate. After all, it is important to keep an open mind. You never know when one of your prejudices might turn out to be wrong
Publius cites five primary examples, six secondary examples, and three examples that he characterizes as "vignettes". I looked at every one of these and, unsurprisingly, they do not support the conclusion. Of Publius's fourteen examples, only one is even a legitimate example of harassment of any sort. That is this one:
Two tennagers assaulted by UCSB professor and suffer grand theft
Remember the University of California, Santa Barbara feminist studies professor who forcibly stole a graphic anti-abortion sign from two abortion protesters, then scratched and appeared to push one of the protesters (a 16-year-old girl), then destroyed the sign?
She pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges of grand theft, vandalism and battery on Thursday.
This is clearly a case of harassment (as even the perpetrator has now tacitly admitted). But it is not a case of harassment of Christians
. We don't even know for certain that the victims were
Christians, at least not from the account that Publius cites. The word "Christian" does not even appear in that story. It might be a good bet that they were Christians (because opponents of reproductive freedom often are) but we don't know that, and it doesn't matter anyway. Even if they were Christians it is clear that they were attacked not because of their religious beliefs but because of the political
views they were espousing (not that this makes the attack any less reprehensible). As you will see, this will prove to be a common theme.
The only other incident that involves violence is this one:
Hate crime: gay activists brutally beat christians in America
As revealed in the disturbing video, two Christian street preachers stood near a gay pride march, one holding a large sign and the other one clutching a Bible.
The sign did not make any targeted, inflammatory statements against any particular group.
But several of the marchers did not care.
A heavy-set man and a woman broke off from the march to confront the preachers. The preacher in the “Trust Jesus” t-shirt tried to block the initial shoving with his Bible.
Both preachers attempted to retreat from conflict.
A short man knocked down the preacher holding the sign, taking it away from him as the heavy-set man sucker punched the preacher in the head.
The short man showed no mercy as he kicked the now-down preacher in the ribs.
This sounds pretty damning, and the violence is, again, reprehensible. However, if you watch the video you will see a number of salient points that are not mentioned in the written account:
1. The incident happened at a gay pride rally.
2. The preachers were repeatedly warned verbally and in no uncertain terms that their presence was not welcome, and were advised, again in no uncertain terms, that they should leave.
3. The inciting incident was not an attack on the preachers themselves, but the theft of one of their signs. You can watch the video and judge for yourself who was attacking who, but the fact is that for most of the fracas, the preacher being "attacked" is on top of the putative "attacker."
So again, even if one grants that the preachers were attacked, they were not attacked because they were Christians, they were attacked because they were behaving like assholes. Preaching that homosexuality is a sin at a gay pride rally is like walking into a church and preaching against God. It's just rude. Of course rudeness does not merit violence, but it does forfeit you the moral high ground.
Two down, twelve to go. This is going to be a long slog, but I really want to definitively debunk this idea that Christians are the victims.
Brendan Eich resigns as CEO of Mozilla
The resignation of Mozilla's CEO amid outrage that he supported an anti-gay marriage campaign is prompting concerns about how Silicon Valley's strongly liberal culture might quash the very openness that is at the region's foundation.
Mozilla co-founder Brendan Eich stepped down Thursday as CEO, just days after his appointment. He left the nonprofit maker of the Firefox browser after furious attacks, largely on Twitter, over his $1,000 contribution to support of a now-overturned 2008 gay-marriage ban in California.
As with the case of the UCSB professor's victims, we have no evidence that Brendan Eich is a Christian. Just as it is possible for a non-Christian to oppose abortion rights, it is also possible for a non-Christian to oppose marriage equality. I myself wrote some harsh criticism of
Brendan Eich and I have no idea if he's a Christian or not. What I do know (because Brendan's actions provide conclusive evidence) is that he is an unrepentant bigot
. Personally, I have no problem with bigots being harassed for their bigotry. I am not a moral relativist. Bigotry is evil because it retards the advancement of ideas
. But that is another discussion.
Protests against Catholic and Morman churches for California Prop. 8 support
Protests against Proposition 8 supporters in California took place starting in November 2008. These included prominent protests against the Roman Catholic church and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), which collaboratively campaigned in favor of California's Proposition 8 through volunteer and financial support for the measure. The proposition was a voter referendum that amended the state constitution to recognize marriage only as being between one man and one woman, thus banning same-sex marriage, which was legal in the state following a May 2008 California Supreme Court case.
Same story, except that these protests are not harassment of any sort. They are entirely legitimate political responses to political action. They are a response to bigots who made themselves fair game by initiating political action to deprive other people of their rights. That these particular bigots happen to be Mormon has nothing to do with the protests (except insofar as their Mormonism almost certainly motivated their bigotry).
Chick-fil-A faces protests after comments by COO Dan Cathy
American fast-food chain Chick-fil-A was the focus of controversy following a series of public comments made in June 2012 by chief operating officer Dan Cathy opposing same-sex marriage. This followed reports that Chick-fil-A's charitable endeavor, the S. Truett Cathy-family-operated WinShape Foundation, had made millions in donations to political organizations which oppose LGBT rights. LGBT rights activists called for protests and boycotts of the chain, while counter-protestors rallied in support by eating at the restaurants. National political figures both for and against the actions spoke out and some business partners severed ties with the chain.
Chick-fil-A released a statement in July 2012 stating, "Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena."
Are you beginning to notice a pattern here? Do I even need to explain this one? Again, these protests were political, peaceful, and their motives had nothing to do with the subject of their protests being Christian and everything to do with their being politically active bigots.
Military priests face arrest for celebrating mass
According the Archdiocese for Military Services, GS and contract priests (who are paid by the federal government as independent contractors in places where there aren’t enough active-duty priests to meet the needs of Catholics in military service) are being forbidden from celebrating Mass, even on a volunteer basis.
If they violate this restriction, they face possible arrest. FOR CELEBRATING MASS.
OK, this sounds more promising. Being arrested for celebrating mass certainly sounds like a flagrant violation of the First Amendment. But again, there is a salient fact that is not evident from these excerpts: this incident occurred during the government shutdown of October 2013. In fact, Publius edited the headline to obscure this fact. The original headline was "MILITARY PRIESTS FACE ARREST FOR CELEBRATING MASS IN DEFIANCE OF SHUTDOWN" (caps in original). So again, the priests were not facing arrest because they were Christian, they were facing arrest because they were breaking the law. During the shutdown (which, again, it is worth noting was precipitated by the intransigence of Congressional Republicans), many contractors were furloughed and hence barred from government facilities. But were Christians specifically singled out? Publius's next example is closely related:
The Obama administration is continuing to prohibit approximately 50 Catholic priests from saying Mass and administering other sacraments at U.S. military facilities around the world, according to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese for the Military Services.
Father Ray Leonard, who is one of these priests, and who serves as the Catholic chaplain at Navel Submarine Base Kings Bay in Georgia, filed suit Monday against the Department of Defense, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, the Department of the Navy and Navy Secretary Ray Mabus. His suit—joined by Navy veteran Fred Naylor, who is a member of the Catholic congregation at Kings Bay--alleges that the administration is violating his and his congregation’s First Amendment rights to the free exercise of religion, the freedom of speech and the freedom of assembly.
DOD has been prohibiting Father Leonard and the other Catholic priests from administering the sacraments and providing other services to their congregations even though two weeks ago Congress passed, and President Barack Obama signed, a law that instructed DOD to maintain on the job and keep paying contract employees who were supporting the troops.
DOD took this action because Hagel determined--after consulting with Attorney General Eric Holder's Justice Department--that civilian Catholic priests, working under contract as chaplains, did not, among other things, “contribute to the morale” and “well-being” of service personnel.
"The Department of Defense consulted closely with the Department of Justice, which expressed its view that the law does not permit a blanket recall of all civilians," Hagel said in an Oct. 5 memorandum. "Under our current reading of the law, the standard of 'support to members of the Armed Forces' requires a focus on those employees whose responsibilities contribute to the morale, well-being, capabilities, and readiness of covered military members during the lapse of appropriations."
Among the specific examples Hagel provided of civilian contractors whom he believes meet this standard are those working in secular "Family Support Programs and Activities," "Behavorial Health and Suicide Prevention Programs" and "Health Care Activities and Providers"--but not priests.
Wow, that really does sound bad. But if you actually look at the Oct. 5 memorandum
you will find that things are not exactly as they are portrayed in the CNS News
account. For one thing, the words "Catholic", "Christian" and "priest" do not appear in that memo. What is really going on here, as the memo makes clear, is that Congress shut down the government and left it up to the executive branch in general, and the DoD in particular in this case, to figure out how to handle the resulting mess. The DoD prioritized what it considered to be essential services (like supply chain management -- i.e. providing soldiers with food) and religious services didn't make the cut. Even if you allow the English language to be sufficiently mangled as to allow the decision to prioritize food over organized religious services to be characterized as "harassment", this incident is still in no way harassment of Christians
religious services were suspended, not just Christian ones. It's just that the Christians were the only ones who whined about it.
US Army defines Christian ministry as domestic hate group"
Several dozen U.S. Army active duty and reserve troops were told last week that the American Family Association, a well-respected Christian ministry, should be classified as a domestic hate group because the group advocates for traditional family values.
You should be able to guess that this account is stilted merely by the fact that the source is Fox News. First, it was not "The U.S. Army", it was a single instructor at a single briefing. And second, it is in fact defensible to call the American Family Association a hate group because they do in fact promulgate hateful ideas about gays
Florida Teacher Suspended for Anti-Gay Marriage Posts on Personal Facebook Page
A former “Teacher of the Year” in Mount Dora, Fla. has been suspended and could lose his job after he voiced his objection to gay marriage on his personal Facebook page.
Jerry Buell, a veteran American history teacher at Mount Dora High School, was removed from his teaching duties this week as school officials in Lake County investigate allegations that what he posted was biased towards homosexuals.
Yes, I know. It's starting to get a little painful, isn't it? Like Brendan Eich, this teacher was not fired for being a Christian, this teacher was fired for being a bigot.
We're nearly done. Only one more "vignette" to go:
U.S. Airman punished for his faith
The shocking stories of religious hostility in our nation’s military continue, and now, Liberty Institute represents Senior Master Sergeant Phillip Monk, a 19-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force who was relieved of his duties because of his faith and moral convictions.
Senior Master Sergeant Monk, who served as a First Sergeant at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, recently returned from deployment and found he had a new commander who was an open lesbian.
“In one of our first meetings, she was talking about her promotion and she mentioned something about a benediction,” Monk told Fox News. “She said she wanted a chaplain but objected to one particular chaplain that she called a ‘bigot’ because he preached that homosexuality is a sin.”
“She then said, ‘I don’t know what kind of people actually believe that kind of crap,’” Monk continued. “I knew I was going to have a rough time in this unit and I would have to be very careful about what I said.”
Issues arose when Monk was asked to advise his commander on a disciplinary matter involving an Air Force instructor who was accused of making objectionable comments about gay marriage. After a thorough investigation, Monk determined the instructor meant no harm by his comments, and suggested that his commander could use the incident as a way to teach about tolerance and diversity.
Monk, a devout evangelical Christian, says he was told that he wasn’t on the same page as the commander, and that if he didn’t get on the same page, they would find another place for him to work.
Later, the commander ordered Monk to answer the question of whether people who object to gay marriage are discriminating. Monk responded that he could not answer the way his commander wanted and feared an honest response would put him in legal trouble.
At that point, Monk was relieved of his duties.
It's hard to sort out exactly what happened in this case, but whatever it was it had nothing to do with Christianity and everything to do with homophobia. This is not to say that Monk's dismissal was appropriate. People have a Constitutional right to be hold bigoted views, and a case might be made that homophobic bigots are being subject to unfair harassment. But the evidence for harassment targeted at Christians
is zero. Zip. Nada.
To see what systematic discrimination against a worldview looks like you have to look at atheism, because atheists are
subject to systematic discrimination (which occasionally rises to the level of harassment) in the U.S. For example, "Humanist" was not recognized as a religious affiliation by the military before April of this year
. As recently as June of last year, a proposal to fund Humanist chaplains in the military failed to pass
. Can you imagine the uproar if Catholics were specifically excluded from the chaplaincy? And yet that is exactly the situation that non-theists in the military face. Atheists are the last minority towards which systematic societal discrimination is still considered acceptable
Discrimination against atheists in the United States occurs in legal, personal, social, and professional contexts. Some American atheists compare their situation to the discrimination faced by ethnic minorities, LGBT communities, and women. "Americans still feel it's acceptable to discriminate against atheists in ways considered beyond the pale for other groups," asserted Fred Edwords of the American Humanist Association. However, other atheists reject these comparisons, arguing that while atheists may face disapproval they have not faced significant oppression or discrimination.
In the United States, seven state constitutions include religious tests that would effectively prevent atheists from holding public office, and in some cases being a juror/witness...
Respondents to a survey were less likely to support a kidney transplant for hypothetical atheists and agnostics needing it, than for Christian patients with similar medical needs.
Few politicians have been willing to identify as non-theists, since such revelations have been considered "political suicide". In a landmark move, California Representative Pete Stark came out in 2007 as the first openly nontheistic member of Congress. In 2009, City Councilman Cecil Bothwell of Asheville, North Carolina was called "unworthy of his seat" because of his open atheism. Several polls have shown that about 50 percent of Americans would not vote for a qualified atheist for president. A 2006 study found that 40% of respondents characterized atheists as a group that did "not at all agree with my vision of American society", and that 48% would not want their child to marry an atheist. In both studies, percentages of disapproval of atheists were above those for Muslims, African-Americans and homosexuals. Many of the respondents associated atheism with immorality, including criminal behaviour, extreme materialism, and elitism. Atheists and atheist organizations have alleged discrimination against atheists in the military, and recently, with the development of the Army's Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program, atheists have alleged institutionalized discrimination. In several child custody court rulings, atheist parents have been discriminated against, either directly or indirectly. As child custody laws in the United States are often based on the "best interests of the child" principle, they leave family court judges ample room to consider a parent’s ideology when settling a custody case. Atheism, lack of religious observation and regular church attendance, and the inability to prove one's willingness and capacity to attend to religion with his children, have been used to deny custody to non-religious parents.
The constitutions of ... seven US states ban atheists from holding public office.
And here we come to the real nub of the matter. Not only is it false that Christians are systematically discriminated against, in fact the exact opposite is true. Christians are not the discriminatees, they are the discriminators. They have in fact become so accustomed to their position of power and hegemony in American society that they perceive that power and hegemony as a basic right, as the natural order of things.
Well, it isn't. Notwithstanding that the vast majority of Americans self-identify as Christians
, the United States is not a Christian nation. It never was
, and God willing it never will be. It is a secular nation, areligious (but obviously not irreligious). It welcomes Christians and non-Christians of all stripes. It welcomes Catholics and Krishnas, Baptists and Buddhists, Methodists and Muslims, believers and non-believers.
What it does not welcome so much is intolerance. If you believe that God wants you to impose (your view of) His will on others, then you do indeed have a problem, because the price of being free to worship as you see fit is to leave others free to do the same (or not) as they see fit. So if you really feel persecuted here because you can't stand letting other people enjoy the same freedoms you possess, you might want to consider moving to, say, Cameroon
. We won't stop you.