Persecution RhetoricMay 04, 2006
K. Hollyn Hollman at the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty has an excellent piece entitled "Political rhetoric wrongly claims persecution of Christians in America." Here are a few highlights from her piece that responds to the "War on Christians" conference led by Rick Scarborough of Vision America:
The theme of the conference is not an isolated example. Such allegations demand a response. First, though it is tempting to dismiss such claims out of hand, we should always listen carefully and respond appropriately. ... Often assertions are misleading, but at times we can learn a great deal from listening and even find common cause on issues of moral concern.Amen! Hopefully the upbeat ending is an accurate reading of a change occurring to move us from "inflammatory rhetoric" to "reasoned dialogue." As Christian we need more people who will take these lessons to heart. We need more Christians who will listen, respond to inaccurate or inappropriate rhetoric, and attempt to spark dialogue.
Second, when claims are patently false or obviously exaggerated, however, we should not hesitate to say so. When we fail to respond to misleading or unsubstantiated assertions in the media, such assertions receive an undeserved appearance of authority.
... Responding to outlandish claims offers an opportunity for education about the roots of religious liberty in American and Baptist experience. ... The careless use of persecution language to describe the state of religious liberty in America today demeans that history.
... With mid-term elections coming up this fall, we are unlikely to see an end of the inflammatory rhetoric. The attendance at the recent conference, however, was far less than expected. As the country concludes its third year at war in Iraq, perhaps more Americans will reject attempts to make "wars" out of our religious differences at home and look for ways to exercise our freedoms responsibly through reasoned dialogue.
Thanks to Don Byrd of the Blog from the Capital for pointing out this column.