Persecution of Christians in the US

Monday, January 9, AD 2017

For the first time the group Persecution.Org, that looks each year at persecution of Christians around the globe, has numbered the United States among the persecutors.
On June 11, 2016, Omar Mateen, a US-based radical Muslim, attacked a gay nightclub in Orlando, killing 49 and injuring 53 more. In a call to 911, he clearly laid out his motivation. The attack
was driven by his allegiance to ISIS and desire for retribution for attacks on ISIS. Incredibly, after the attack, numerous high profile media outlets blamed the attacks on what they perceive as the anti-LGBTQ atmosphere that Christians have created. 
In short, Christians in the US are facing constant attacks in the media, where they are portrayed as bigoted, racist, sexist, and close- minded. The characterization in the media may be translating into direct attacks as well. The First Liberty Institute, the largest legal organization in the US dedicated exclusively to protecting religious freedom, documents such actions and reports that attacks on religion doubled between 2012 and 2015.
More importantly, Christians and all religious people are being marginalized through the law.
From the case of a Christian football coach suspended for praying at the 50-yard line, to Christian business owners forced to pay a $135,000 fine for declining to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding, the number of troubling cases directed towards Christians has exploded.
In 2011, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship lost their official recognition as a student organization in all of their respective chapters across 23 California public colleges. This occurred because the
Christian organization required their respective leaders to uphold a doctrinal statement of Biblical principles, which allegedly conflicted with California State universities’ policies. After four years of embattled negotiations, InterVarsity regained their official recognition in June 2015.
In 2014, Eric Walsh was terminated one week after being hired by the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH). The basis of termination was alleged undisclosed income from prior employment in California.  However, the Georgia DPH knew that Walsh was a Christian preacher outside of work and went to great lengths to review and investigate the content of his sermons posted on YouTube. Georgia officials have even requested copies of Walsh’s sermons, despite prior statements that the termination had nothing to do with his religious views or affiliations.
Walsh is currently suing the Georgia DPH for wrongful termination and religious discrimination.
The rise of these cases stems partly from a broad cultural shift towards secularism. The Pew Foundation found that those identifying as non-religious in the US rose by seven percent, to 23 percent of the total US adult population within just seven years (2007 to 2014).
Anti-Christian entities have been able to leverage the growing secularization of society and culture to their advantage, utilizing the courts as a preferred venue to gradually marginalize and silence
Christians. Using the cudgel of “equality,” secular forces in and out of the courts have worked to create a body of law built from one bad precedent after another. Claims of intolerance and inequality are used to fundamentally distort the clear intent of the First Amendment.
The Founders carefully and deliberately placed religious freedom as the first liberty because it encompasses several fundamental rights including thought, speech, expression, and assembly. The First Amendment explicitly grants freedom of religion, not freedom from religion. The essential aim is to protect the right of citizens to practice religion in the public square.
Decades of accumulated poor judicial decisions and precedents have twisted the First Amendment so that the courts, in defiance of the Founders, are pushing religion out of the public square, and into the small space of private expression. In essence, the courts are deciding that you only have full religious freedom and expression in the church and your home. In the public domain, your religious views and thoughts must be restrained and controlled.
This trend is extremely worrying in the country that has long held the ideal of religious liberty.
While there is no comparison between the life of a Christian in the US with persecuted believers overseas, ICC sees these worrying trends as an alarming indication of a decline in religious liberty in the United States.

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5 Responses to Persecution of Christians in the US

  • Jesus said that it is going to get worse. Luke 21:12-18
    12 But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. 13 This will be a time for you to bear testimony. 14 Settle it therefore in your minds, not to meditate beforehand how to answer; 15 for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. 16 You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and kinsmen and friends, and some of you they will put to death; 17 you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish. 19 By your endurance you will gain your lives.

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  • Christians often bring these things upon themselves. Mainline Protestantism has bent over backwards to accommodate the increasingly hostile secular culture and in the process have become nearly empty shells.
    The Catholic Church hierarchy in the US and Canada has done much the same thing. Dialogue, dialogue, dialogue…, talk, talk, while, with the explicit approval of Cardinal Wuerl, give Communion to so called Catholics who openly oppose Catholic teaching on abortion and any number of other issues.
    Meanwhile, fundamentalists swarm Internet comboxes blathering Bible quotes and tell everyone who will or will not listen that Catholics aren’t Christians.
    The adherents of the SSPX, the Traditional Catholics, the Eastern Orthodox and few others get it. Not many others do.

  • Calling it persecution is rather florid. We live in an age, though, where the institutions in society which least merit our respect are the academy and the judiciary.

  • My doctor is Eastern Orthodox. She is an Egyptian and we have had many interesting discussions during my visits. We shared an “Eureaka” moment one day. I was asking her about where in the pancreas lay the Islets of Langkerhans, when suddenly I got it ! I uttered, “That proves there’s a God. We don’t even
    know what we are !” She slammed her fist on the desk and shouted, “That’s right !!!”
    Timothy R.

Are You Now, Or Have You Even Been, a Christian?

Thursday, May 2, AD 2013

Some of us wondered last year what the Obama administration would do once it no longer had to face the voters.  One thing it is doing is to allow “Mikey” Weinstein to set policy in the military regarding the treatment of Christians.  Who is “Mikey” Weinstein?  A former Air Force officer and attorney he founded a group called Military Religious Freedom Foundation that exists to battle the influence of Christians in the military and alleged discrimination against non-Christians.   Weinstein has made a career out of bashing Christians in the military and using the threat of litigation to bludgeon those who oppose him.  Get a taste of the tactics of the man here.   To demonstrate how over the top this joker is, this is from a post he wrote at Huffington Post on April 13:

Today, we face incredibly well-funded gangs of fundamentalist Christian monsters who terrorize their fellow Americans by forcing their weaponized and twisted version of Christianity upon their helpless subordinates in our nation’s armed forces. Oh my, my, my, how “Papa’s got a brand new bag.”

What’s Papa’s new tactic? You’re gonna just love this! These days, when ANYone attempts to bravely stand up against virulent religious oppression, these monstrosities cry out alligator tears in overflowing torrents and scream that it is, in fact, THEY who are the dispossessed, bereft and oppressed. C’mon, really, you pitiable unconstitutional carpetbaggers? It would be like the utter folly of 1960’s-era southern bigots howling like stuck pigs in protest that Rosa Parks’ civil rights activism is “abusing” them by destroying and disenfranchising their rights to sit in the front seat of buses in Montgomery, Alabama. Please, I beseech you! Let us call these ignoble actions what they are: the senseless and cowardly squallings of human monsters.

In any sane administration this obvious anti-Christian bigot would not have anything to do with setting official policy, but we are not governed by a sane administration:

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18 Responses to Are You Now, Or Have You Even Been, a Christian?

  • I get it that this President hates people of faith. I never bought the “closet Muslim” allegation. All evidence pointed to Candidate Obama being a man of no faith in an higher power. It does not surprise me that the freedom to do whatever he wants, as long as he doesn ‘t awaken Congress to its constitutional duties, causes the President and his lackeys to behave in awful ways.

    What I don’t get is the military going like sheep led to the slaughter.

    Isn’t it still true that the non-coms set the tone? Navy Chiefs were this untouchable core of professionals who seemed to thwart every stupid act of their superiors and keep the ship on an even keel.

    Is this still true bit the loudmouths get the press? I sure hope so. I’d hate to think even they had been bludgeoned by a Leftish bunch of God-hating thugs.

  • “..a national security threat.” Honestly?
    This Weinstein fellow is nuts. When an actual national security threat is taking place it will be found to have originated from skunks that hate God fearing men. Say Weinstein.

  • Every person in the military is an adult. There are no minor un-informed children in the military. If an adult person wishes to opt out of a conversation about Faith, he is free to do so. He is also free to consider and parse what he hears and sees and learns. He has this ability of his rational soul. An adult person can reason. If the person is in the military, it is reasonable to expect that he is capable of rational thought and can choose his way among the many different choices he faces. Religion is man’s response to the gift of Faith from God. God and Faith may not be removed from creation or the military. Our Constitution says so.
    As far as soul rape, this can only happen to a minor, uniformed un-emancipated child. The charge of treason is for those who repudiate our founding principles.

  • Obama cannot afford to have God around, God gives us FREEDOM.

    @David Spaulding: “thug” was the face of Weinstein. The brown shirts are coming.

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  • Another perfect “setup” by our Emperor who will ignore this idiot allowing him to spew his venom randomly and never be brought to task for having appointed him.
    He is a master at having others do his dirty work under the cover of media inattention to the obvious damage to our society or the desired divisiveness among the people. He loves chaos, confusion, and turmoil which will require new laws and/or regulations that can call on government to further intrude into our lives.

  • but Bill Sr. wait….

    Please don’t forget to include the throngs of twits that bow down to this “joker” and gave him another four years to plague our nation with his viruses. After all he did have help.

    2016 seems so distant.

  • @philip: What good will 2016 do? Seriously, no Republican right now looks like they could win. Even if they did, they’ve just spent the past couple of weeks showing how “tough” they are by loudly insisting that we trash our whole judicial system AND torture a man without even the scant justification that he might know something useful. Even if they don’t persecute Christians, they’re setting up a thugocracy that will surely be turned against us.

  • I assume he’s referring to the Boston Bomber. I have not heard a single conservative advocate torturing the man, although I’m sure you can find one on twitter here or there. But facts rarely get in the way of a good rant.

  • Howard.

    Excuse me sir, what torture-what man are you referring to? And by the time 2016 comes around my poor guess is that the hole oblunder dug U.S. into will be filling in with past supporters of o-care-less healthplan.

    Just a guess.

  • Lawyer question for those of you in that particular venue:

    1) Given that the 1st Amendment contains not only the “Establishment Clause” preventing a state-declared religion, but also the “Free Exercise Clause” preventing the government from stopping religious expression…do not these same guarantees apply to our servicemen? I know that there are some limits, such as free speech prohibitions against the Commander in Chief, but how would this work out for a chaplain? This reminds me of this particular issue, where individual Marines (not the fort) built a memorial.

    2) Could it be argued that atheism/”freedom from religion”-types, who argue that religion has no business being in the same room as anything with respect to the government are, in fact, promoting a belief system? Further, when they do so and get governmental cooperation in their efforts, that this results in a state-established religion of atheism? I call atheism a religion because atheism cannot be viewed as the “absence of belief” in the same way as you can say that “darkness is the absence of light”. Atheism is as much an act of faith because it claims to be a rational, evidence-based system and yet also claims a universal declaration that is not based on any empirical evidence. A more concise, though less elegant, way of saying that might be “any system which requires the logical proof of a negative and has no concrete evidence is an act of faith.”

    I’ve spoken with a personal friend who’s a lawyer as well as one who’s affiliated with Alliance Defending Freedom, and the latter suggested that an Establishment case is different for the burden of legal fees than a Free Exercise case…I’ve never known how to follow up on that or how to see what kind of legal scholarship needs to be undertaken to turn this tide.

  • “but also the “Free Exercise Clause” preventing the government from stopping religious expression…do not these same guarantees apply to our servicemen?”


    “I know that there are some limits, such as free speech prohibitions against the Commander in Chief, but how would this work out for a chaplain?”

    A very murky area since the courts have usually been reluctant to get involved with the management of the military. I can easily see however a conflict between free exercise and the authority of the Executive over military chaplains getting to the Supreme Court in the next few years.

    “are, in fact, promoting a belief system?”

    Most certainly, especially since the case law tends to take a rather expansive view of what constitutes a religion.

    “Atheism is as much an act of faith because it claims to be a rational, evidence-based system and yet also claims a universal declaration that is not based on any empirical evidence. A more concise, though less elegant, way of saying that might be “any system which requires the logical proof of a negative and has no concrete evidence is an act of faith.”

    Well put. Atheism is as much a religion as any theistic religion. Atheists have been inconsistant in this area. On the internet most atheists, usually the ones filled with an evangelical zeal that would put most street preachers to shame, loudly proclaiming that atheism is not a religion. However, in court atheists often have claimed that atheism is a religion and therefore entitled to First Amendment protections.

  • I am a Catholic in the military and I have to say that my religion has always been respected. The repeal of DADT had basically no practical effect on me, for instance. There are some worries about the chaplains, tho’.

    That being said, where did they get they get this guy!? And what are they getting at, appointing an atheist to a religious freedom thing? It makes NO SENSE WHATSOEVER. I think that this guy could use to have a couple of chats with a therapist, or something. He seems quite unhinged.

    They need to be VERY clear about what constitutes “proselytizing.” Is it a charge that can be levelled against anyone who has a conversation involving religion, or does it involve distributing pamphlets? People need to realize that when people are asking questions about religion, it’s the duty of a Christian with even a modicum of piety to follow up on them. I’d also like to know what a “fundamentalist Christian” is. Is it a Christian more orthodox than the President? Does having a southern accent make you more likely to be one? (I am beginning to suspect that a lot of this has to do with regionalist bigotry, and less than we think with religion per se. That’s the sense I get from some atheists I know, at any rate. Incidentally, I don’t have much of a southern accent.)

    I honestly don’t think that the gov’t can really force service members to ascribe to to the present administration’s ideology, precisely because that ideology is inimical to the principles of military service, and to some extent to the existence of government, period. Consider that quote from Anthony Kennedy about everyone having an absolute right to define reality however they like. Obvious, if anyone REALLY believed that, that person would have to consider laws immoral, since they impose a certain view of reality on someone. Also, consider the prevailing ideologies of our foreign enemies, Iran and North Korea in particular. Is it really politically advisable to alienate Christians when our chief enemies are Muslim or atheist officially? NO. If the people currently in power really have the guts to alienate Christian service members in this situation, I might have to grudgingly admire them for sticking so firmly to their false principles.

  • …we are not governed by a sane administration…
    Donald R. McClarey

    Alas, so true. How did Catholics vote in the last election? The last 10 presidential elections?

    All evidence pointed to Candidate Obama being a man of no faith in an higher power.
    David Spaulding

    Alas, that is also true. How did so many Catholics fail to see that in 2008?

    Many of the bretheren are weak. Who can strengthen them?

  • Thank you for your service, John H. Graney.

    My son, John, is also serving.

    St. John 15:18-25: “The world hated me (Jesus) . . . before it hated you.”

    St. Matthew 5:10: “Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

  • Here is the Defense Department’s response to the conservative outcries in the Internet on Weinstein’s meeting with the Air Force Judge Advocate General:

    My question is this: why even meet with a person like Weinstein if he has no credence, for in so meeting with him he is given credence? This is the same sort of thing that the US NRC does with anti-nuclear propagandist like Annie Gundersen, RFK Jr., and others: meet with them, then issue a statement proclaiming how the activists don’t speak for the Commission, and follow that up by tightening regulations so much that the technology becomes uneconomic. Watch and see now how the Air Force will tighten up in like manner religious expression by Evangelical and orthodox Catholic Christians while Muslims and sodomy-supporting Episcopalians get a free pass. This is an old tactic that the left has successfully used to stymie the use of nuclear energy in this country, and they are using it now against the far more important issue of freedom of Christian religious expression.

Bad History: Was the Persecution of Christians a Myth?

Thursday, March 14, AD 2013

Donald McClarey has a well deserved barn-burner of a post up at The American Catholic about a new book entitled The Myth of Persecution: How Early Christians Invented a Story of Martyrdom out from University of Notre Dame theology professor Candida Moss. I’d seen a couple articles on this book before it came out and more or less passed over them as yet another fluffy work of pop scholarship intent on telling us that “everything we know is wrong” in relation to Christianity. However, the book appears to be getting a certain amount of press and is climbing the Amazon sales ranks, so it’s worth giving it a bit of attention as the politically motivated pop-history that it is.

Dr. Moss talks about her motivations for writing the book in an interview at HuffPo:

I initially became interested in this subject because of a homily I heard that compared the situation facing modern Christians in America to the martyrs of the early church. I was surprised by the comparison because modern Americans aren’t living in fear for their lives and the analogy seemed a little hyperbolic and sensational. After this, I began to notice the language of persecution and victimization being bandied about everywhere from politics, to sermons, to the media, but rarely in regard to situations that involve imprisonment and violence.

She goes on to argue that modern Christians have a view that persecution of the early Church was pervasive when it was in fact not:

[A] lot of weight rests on the idea that Christians were persecuted in the early church because, without the idea of near-continuous persecution, it would be difficult to recast, say, disagreements about the role of prayer in schools as persecution. … But intriguingly, the historical evidence for systematic persecution of Christians by Jews and Romans is actually very slim. There were only a few years before the rise of the emperor Constantine that Christians were sought out by the authorities just for being Christians. The stories about early Christian martyrs have been edited, expanded, and sometimes even invented, giving the impression that Christians were under constant attack. This mistaken impression is important because it fosters a sense of Christian victimhood and that victim mentality continues to rear its head in modern politics and society. It’s difficult to imagine that people could make the same claims about persecution today were it not for the idea that Christians have always been persecuted.

Moss also has a recent piece in The Chronicle of Higher Education summarizing her argument and promoting the book:

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26 Responses to Bad History: Was the Persecution of Christians a Myth?

  • As I said the other day, her motivation appears quite clear: If the Church and individual Christians suffer government and/or legal sanction because their beliefs and how they practice those beliefs are at odds with cultural “norms” – be those norms abortion-on-demand, the HHS mandate, or same-sex “marriage” – they are not REALLY being persecuted. In essence, the Church and individual Christians can either get on board with the agenda or not; but if they choose not to, they wouldn’t be able to legitimately cry “persecution” if the legal fallout is not to to their liking.

    Moss’s motivation, as with the motivation of many on the Catholic left and Christian left who are critical of the Church, is actually quite transparent: political ideology trumps religious dogma.

  • They like the smells and bells, and the color and pageantry that we have seen at the Vatican this week, but as for religion actually telling them to repent and change their lives, not for a second. They applaud the outward show of religion and boo the substance.

  • This is an important article for Christians to read and refer to, when they hear the increasing number of followers of Dr. Moss, armed with her half-truths, proclaiming her gospel.

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  • According to Ms. Moss’ definition, Christians aren’t persecuted in China today, because while they may be harassed, imprisoned, tortured, or even killed by the government, the Communist Party’s motives for doing so are ultimately political. I’m sure this must be a great comfort to the victims of this non-persecution.

  • The real message is clear.

    You’re crazy if you think you’re persecuted, but when we actually do persecute you, it will be for good reasons.

    Christianity really IS responsible for the insane idea that a man’s loyalties might lie with a power higher than and distinct from the state. In that sense it is responsible for the freedoms we enjoy today. I don’t even think it is Christianity that Moss has a problem with, but freedom itself, the nerve and the gall it takes to say “no”, for the sake of conscience, to supposedly benevolent rulers who supposedly know what is best for us.

    The irony here is that by denying that Christians were and are persecuted, Moss makes it easier to persecute them. By arguing that the authorities were rational and justified in their views of early Christians, she makes the case that today’s secular state is rational and justified in suppressing freedom expressed as conscientious objection to its policies.

    I have seen this shell game many times. First deny the problem and call people insane who recognize it, then acknowledge the problem and call people insane who complain about it. It is a diabolical game.

  • I saw her piece on the “Chronicle of Higher Ed” online the other day. There were readers who left comments, unimpressed with her for secular reasons.

  • Another member of the Patriotic Association hard at work.

    Thanks for this handy dismantling, Darwin.

  • Actually, (for them) to the extent “it” advances the agenda/narrative, it is GOOD history.

  • “the Romans don’t come off as particularly cuddly in the old toga epics such as Spartacus”

    The depiction of Crassus crucifying the survivors of the slave army of Spartacus is completely historical:

    “Since there was still a very large number of fugitives from the battle in the mountains, Crassus proceeded against them. They formed themselves into four groups and kept up their resistance until there were only 6,000 survivors, who were taken prisoner and crucified all the way along the road from Rome to Capua.”


    Imagine the sight, sound and smell of that. Crassus wanted an object lesson that the slaves of Italy would remember forever and he wanted to establish himself as a frontrunner to be one of the two consuls in the upcoming election. Crassus was hailed for his stern measures, and no one said a word against what he did, at least a word that has come down to us in the source material.

    The Romans were not the cruelest people in the Ancient world but they were brutal in a way that most moderns would find shocking. Pay your taxes and do what you were told in the Roman Empire and you were mostly left alone. Step out of line, and the whole power of the Roman state could land on you, with the best result for you being slavery for yourself and your family and the worst being death on a cross for you and your family. Christians until the time of Constantine always had to worry about a sudden wave of persecution forcing them to choose between abjuring Christ and dying a horrible death. That Ms. Moss does not see that as persecution makes one wonder how much State power she would be content with being used against people who have the temerity to disagree with her before she would deem it to be persecution.

  • I wasted some time plumbing the depths of this MossThing so you won’t have to. Overall conclusion: she is going for it, money, fame, and notoriety all at once.

    This one has clogged up a spot on Notre Dame’s faculty with her idiosyncratic idiocy, and now makes herself available to serve as a liberal non-believing academic consultant for the History Channel TV series “The Bible.” Oh, how utterly! And her alleged “research-based book” informs that Romans did not persecute Christians. Goodness gracious, now that’s special, isn’t it?

    Enough said, and a fortiori, enough heard!

    I wasted some time plumbing the depths of this MossThing so you won’t have to. Now I need a shower and, yes, I will require that scrub brush. I’ll give it back in about 45 minutes.

  • The falsity of her presumptions drives me batty. I have taught religion, studied religion – and done so in Catholic instutions. There is not a textbook out there – and never has been – that has held that the persecutions were empire-wide and constant for 300 years.

    She’s a mess. Notre Dame should be embarrassed. Well, they already should be about other things..but anyway..

  • It is highly likely that possible future kind, gentle, soft Western totalitarisms will not persecute Christians, nor prosecute them. It will judge them to be mentally ill and insure that they are given the best treatments that public monies can provide. And if their minds should be destroyed by said treatments, then compassion will be exercised: pity will move the “care providers” to euthanize them so that they no longer “suffer”. But a persecution? Oh no, it wouldn’t be that at all.

  • I pray episodes like this begin to erode Notre Dame’s “pocket book” through lower demand for their “product.” I know, it may take a while for this to happen. However, when I hear someone mention ND as a graduate or as a parent who is sending their kids to this school, I cringe. A whopping $65k/year is spent by most parents and students to receive revisionist history, progressive theology, social justice awareness. Recall the quote by P.T. Barnum, “there is a sucker born every minute.” Well, at least Barnum was offering a real live show. ND is offering fiction and fantasy. Moss is busy at the practice of undermining truth and the faith of others. Who knew, we have Judas with us still today.

  • Let’s talk about persecution in “modern” times. Wonder what she would say about the persecution of Christians in Mexico less than 100 years ago. Probably that it was their own fault for not jumping into line with the government. If any of you don’t know what I am talking about, here is a good explanation:¡viva-cristo-rey

  • Here is the problem: people run out of things to research, they run out of ideas, and cannot put together a thesis. They become very creative and imagine they found something new, different, or opposite to that which was said before. They get goofy. That’s what happened here. Notre Dame is to blame for hiring and, I suppose giving tenure to someone like this. Despicable!

  • I think you are right about that Barbara. We have had several posts on the Cristeros Movement at The American Catholic:

  • The 800 Martyrs of Otranto:

    “The first of the chroniclers, Giovanni Michele Laggetto, adds, in the “Historia della guerra di Otranto del 1480 [Story of the war of Otranto in 1480],” transcribed from an ancient manuscript and published in 1924:

    “And turning to the Christians, Primaldo spoke these words: ‘My brothers, until today we have fought in defense of our homeland, to save our lives, and for our earthly governors; now it is time for us to fight to save our souls for our Lord. And since he died on the cross for us, it is fitting that we should die for him, remaining firm and constant in the faith, and with this earthly death we will earn eternal life and the glory of martyrdom.’ At these words, all began to shout with one voice and with great fervor that they wanted to die a thousand times, by any sort of death, rather than renounce Christ.”

    The holocaust within the Spanish Civil War has been denied far too long. Almost no one in America knows that during the 1930’s Spanish “Civil” War the “republicans” massacred of tens of thousands of Roman Catholic religious and lay people. For decades, the MSM, publishers, and the academy have sold the one-sided idea that Franco and his government (World War II neutrals) were merely fascists. The MSM, et al, egregiously deny the mass murders of Spanish Catholic religious and lay persons committed by the Soviet-led Spanish and international brigands such as Hemingway, Robeson and the so-called Abraham Lincoln brigade.

    There was a general massacre of Roman Catholic clergy and laity in the areas under communist control during the 1936 to 1939 Spanish Civil War. Four thousand Roman Catholic bishops, priests, brothers, and nuns, and tens of thousands of lay Catholic people were martyred. The Lord had called the Spanish religious community to a radical witness. When the republicans found them to be religious, they were arrested and executed. For example, the bolshevists murdered 165 of the order of Catholic school teachers, the De La Salle Christian Brothers, whose brothers have, for over 150 years, served their vocations at Manhattan College. On October 10, 1993, Pope John Paul II proclaimed “blessed”, seven Spanish Christian Brothers and three Spanish Marianists (Carlos Erana, Jesus Hita, Fidel Fuidio). The Marianists are dedicated religious priests and brothers who serve Long Island Roman Catholics at Chaminade High School and Bishop Kellenberg Memorial High School.

  • I’m not sure why Moss sees a need to argue against “systematic persecution” or a “sustained three-hundred-year-long effort” of persecution, since no one studying Christianity in the Roman Empire that I know of argues that this is what happened. If there is one thing we do know about Roman persecutions of Christians, it is that they weren’t systematic and they weren’t sustained. I doubt that anyone seriously defends or teaches the idea that there was a constant, universal Roman policy of persecution that never let up, and anyone who does teach such a thing knows virtually nothing about the history of the church or the Roman Empire.

  • You’re clearly misrepresenting her work:

    She wrote two other books (one won a big prize according to her ND bio page). One from Oxford and one from Yale.

    In the chapter available for free she is critical of the left as well.

  • Maddy,

    I’ve quoted directly from the book pretty extensively, so I think it’s hard to make the case that I’m mischaracterizing it. I haven’t read her other books, which as you say are academic works unlike this one which is for popular consumption. However, whatever their merits, a basic reading of this book makes it pretty clear that it’s based on a massive strawman effort and also on some very poor attempts to wave away or explain away very well established primary source material.

  • What leads ND to employ a person who openly espouses positions of this sort? Is it some misplaced inclination to provide a counter-voice to Catholic dogma?

  • It is interesting to read the last paragraph of the review–“A view of history in which dangerously bad bogeymen do horrible things simply because they are bad is a shallow view of history that teaches us nothing”–and then to read many of the comments about Ms. Moss.

    As for moving goalposts, that’s something we all have to beware of. E.g., when she states that the Romans “…were known for being comparatively beneficent rulers…” and then the reviewer says “…Roman society was violent and cruel by modern standards.” I assume that Moss’s “…were known…” meant, in Roman times, not by modern standards. Which goal post should we use?

    A note on your reading of Pliny: You wrote, “The question at hand is not whether Christians were considered to be Enemy Of The State #1 in the Roman mind, but rather whether they were being persecuted. In this case, obviously they were, since Pliny figured that a good minimum was interrogating everyone accused of being a Christian and executing those who would not recant.” But if you read Pliny’s language he was saying that he was treating them thus because they were like others who transgressed: “I had no doubt that, whatever the nature of their creed, stubbornness and inflexible obstinacy surely deserve to be punished.” Pliny seems to further contextualize his attitude when he said, ” I had forbidden political associations.”

    So the wrinkle here might be: was Pliny going after the Christians qua Christians, or because they fit the profile of a larger set: political instigators of movements inimical to the empire?

    From an academic perspective, she may well be tilting at a straw man. From a popular perspective, the notion of Christians persecuted by Romans is a commonplace among many who were brought up with a Christian education; the technical distinctions within the concept, not so much. So if she was writing to a more popular audience, maybe the commonplace concept was one worth addressing.

  • Jake Arvey,

    On goal posts: It struck me that Dr. Moss must be referring to modern standards, since she is talking about people judging the Romans particularly harshly for being repressive towards the Christians when they were generally such “nice” guys.

    The Romans were usually so kind, the argument goes, that their treatment of Christians was out of character and cruel. On the other, it is used as evidence of Roman innocence; the Romans were so kind that we must conclude that the Christians deserved it.

    I’m just honestly not sure where that comes from, as I don’t think that the Romans have a particular reputation for being kind in the popular consciousness.

    On your point regarding Pliny: I guess I’m a little unclear as to whether it’s relevant that Pliny was interested in persecuting Christians qua Christians or whether he saw Christians as one of a number of identifiable groups which were considered seditious. Would it really make the Christians less persecuted if follows of the cult of Isis were persecuted too?

    Now, it is true that one can get some good insights by looking at the way in which persecutions of the Christians fit in with Roman persecutions of other groups. For instance, “secret societies” (which tended to be defined pretty broadly) were frequently repressed by the Romans. One of the few areas of association which was pretty consistently allowed was burial societies. This, in turn, is almost certainly why the Christians tended at times to meet and worship in the catacombs around the tombs of the martyrs. It wasn’t exactly that they were “hiding” in the catacombs, but rather that burial societies which met to make offerings at the tombs of the dead were one of the few kinds of organization which were permissible.

    But again: Persecuting Christians because they do the things that Christians do (meet to celebrate the mass, refuse to sacrifice to pagan gods, refuse to take part in certain activities they believed to violate their consciences) is still persecuting Christians even if its these secondary characteristics that one objects to, not the fact that they worship one God and believe that he became man in Jesus Christ.

  • Darwin,

    Your points are well taken. There does seem to be a lot of popular history that describes certain eras and leaders as beneficent; maybe that’s a pop history “meme” that should be dispatched.

    On your first point in reply, I’ll parse it a bit further: it seems as if she was applying a modern perception to classical evaluations of the Romans. I was just thinking about Plutarch’s descriptions of men like Cato, but now I’m wondering how much of that was puffery.

    I have peeked at a few of her other things in the U of Chicago library, and she seems to have some interesting interests. She is still young, as scholars go, and will probably develop more nuanced evaluations of this material as time goes on. If not, my view is, let’s have many voices and then evaluate them, rather than wish they’d go away as some of your commenters seem to feel. She’s probably finding that an attempt to make these ancient studies more contemporary by tying them to current political trends can be very tricky!

  • Fr. Jim Martin is recommending this book for Easter reading. Really. Along with John Freakin’ Dominic Crossan.

    What a joke. Why orthodox Catholics fawn over this man, I’ll never understand.

Von Galen Contra the Swastika

Sunday, March 20, AD 2011

In my first post on Blessed Clemens August Graf von Galen, which may be read here, we examined the life of this remarkable German bishop who heroically stood up to the Third Reich.  Today we examine the second of three sermons that he preached in 1941 which made him famous around the globe.  One week after his first breathtaking sermon against the Gestapo, my examination of which may be read here, he preached on July 20, 1941 a blistering sermon against the Nazis and their war on Christianity in general, and Catholicism in particular.

Today the collection which I ordered for the inhabitants of the city of Münster is held in all the parishes in the diocese of Münster which have not themselves suffered war damage. I hope that through the efforts of the state and municipal authorities responsible and the brotherly help of the Catholics of this diocese, whose contributions will be administered and distributed by the offices of the Caritas, much need will be alleviated.

Charity, always a prime duty of Catholics.

Thanks be to God, for several days our city has not suffered any new enemy attacks from without. But I am distressed to have to inform you that the attacks by our opponents within the country, of the beginning of which I spoke last Sunday in St. Lambert’s, that these attacks have continued, regardless of our protests, regardless of the anguish this causes to the victims of the attacks and those connected with them. Last Sunday I lamented, and branded as an injustice crying out to heaven, the action of the Gestapo in closing the convent in Wilkinghege and the Jesuit residences in Munster, confiscating their property and possessions, putting the occupants into the street and expelling them from their home area. The convent of Our Lady of Lourdes in Frauen­strasse was also seized by the Gau authorities. I did not then know that on the same day, Sunday 13th July, the Gestapo had occupied the Kamilluskolleg in Sudmühle and the Benedictine abbey of Gerleve near Coesfeld and expelled the fathers and lay brothers. They were forced to leave Westphalia that very day.

The Nazi war on the Church is becoming more brazen in the midst of the War.

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