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Persecuted Christians in America: Fact or Fiction?


Around this time last year I was in a meeting with the Chief of Staff for a Congressional office when he suddenly asked me a question I had never heard before: Does ICC help persecuted Christians in America? After thinking a moment I pointed out that while we did sometimes assist or meet with persecuted Christians who had come to the United States from overseas, to my knowledge we had never had any projects to help American Christians suffering from persecution and that was because, well, compared to the extraordinary amount of persecution faced by countless Christians in countries like North Korea, Nigeria or Iran, Christians in the U.S. seem to be pretty well off.

But this answer didn’t acknowledge the fact that ICC has actually been monitoring events in the U.S. for several years. Some alarming cases, like the Southern California couple fined $300 last year for holding a home Bible study or the arrest and 60-day imprisonment of an Arizona pastor in July, have warranted further investigation. Yours truly discovered very quickly that these incidents and the subject of persecuted Christians in America sparked a lot of controversy, even among Christians themselves. The debate seems to be polarized, often along political lines, by either people who believe that are there no persecuted Christians in America whatsoever or that soon every Christian in America will be forced to worship in secret.  Let’s take a look at these two very different opinions:  

Opinion #1 – There are no persecuted Christians in America at all, period.

2012 11 14 Persecuted Christians in America   1

For those invested in this particular viewpoint, all of the noise being made about cases like Pastor Salman’s (the arrested Arizona pastor) or the occasional American being fined for holding a Bible study is just that, noise. They point out that many of these cases stem from Christians violating local zoning ordinances and are sometimes relentless in skewering the character of any American Christian who claims they are being persecuted for their beliefs. One scathing article in the Huffington Post recently went so far as to state that for Christians in America to claim persecution is to “lie boldly, without shame.”

These same opinion holders also tend to support the efforts of organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union, which is often a driving force behind the removal of Christian artifacts such as crosses and the Ten Commandments from publicly owned property. The number and type of these organizations seems to be expanding rapidly, something which these opinion holders see as simply a general shift in cultural values rather than a wide-ranging conspiracy to persecute Christians in America. Those on the other side of this argument, however, vehemently disagree.

Opinion #2 – There are hundreds, if not thousands of persecuted Christians in America, and it’s only going to get worse.

2012 11 14 Persecuted Christians in America   2

For many Christians, the evidence to support this opinion seems to be growing on an almost daily basis. A survey released over the summer by the Family Research Council and the Liberty Institute purported to document hundreds of incidents of religious hostility against Christians in the U.S. over the past ten years. These included everything from a Texas high school valedictorian being threatened with imprisonment by a federal judge for referring to Jesus in her graduation speech to senior citizens being prevented from praying over their meals by a city official.

The survey was released only days after a gunman walked into the Washington D.C. offices of the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian organization, and opened fire on a security guard who managed to subdue the assailant despite being shot in the arm. The gunman was carrying 15 Chick-fil-A sandwiches, a clear indication his attack was related to the stance of Chick-fil-A’s Christian president against same-sex marriage.

On top of these incidents Catholic leaders have taken serious issue with the Health and Human Services mandate under Obama’s health care plan that will require employers, including Catholic employers, to pay for contraceptives. The mandate doesn’t allow exemptions based on moral grounds and leaves some Catholic business owners with a seemingly impossible choice: violate their religious beliefs or face criminal charges by the federal government.

So are there really persecuted Christians in America?

For the time being the answer to this question will almost certainly depend on who you ask. There are countless other cases not listed here that continue to fuel the debate. Whichever opinion you hold it is hard to deny that major shifts are taking place in American society. Few would argue those shifts favor the expression of Christian values, especially in public.

Every day ICC works with Christians who face life threatening persecution at the hands of their government or even their neighbors. While American Christians today certainly cannot claim this level of persecution, recent events suggest that the day is coming (or has already arrived) when even American Christians will have to be far more careful than ever before about where and when they choose to express their faith.    



Thank you for this insightful article. I too am feeling a dramatic and apparently irreversible change to anti-Christian sentiment. While this is sad, it is to be expected as the final days approach. Keep up the work you are doing. Maranatha!
Posted @ Tuesday, January 01, 2013 7:06 AM by Ken Petzold
I felt the shift four years ago when the President of the United States declared "we are no longer a Christian nation." This nation has switched from predominantly good to predominantly evil. The two forces are opposed to one another. Where once society spoke out against bad behavior, it is now speaking out against Godly behavior and morals... The homosexual agenda is now demonizing any who would help people out of that death-style (even when the people themselves want out.) How far shall we fall? The Beast shall make war against the saints and prevail, until the Son of Man comes, and judgment will be given to the Saints... says the book of Daniel
Posted @ Tuesday, January 01, 2013 8:00 AM by Tim
I feel blessed to have been born in this country of religious freedom. Yet, maybe all this freedom has made "soft" believers of us. A sifting was bound to come. I am praying I will be counted worthy. I'm praying I'll remain faithful and bold. And that is my prayer for all Christians.
Posted @ Tuesday, January 01, 2013 10:03 PM by Barbara
This is a great topic to speak on. My friends and I have talked about this before. But I disagree that it depends on who you ask. The Bible says "Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted..." (2 Tim. 3:12) Although I will not claim to have experienced a life-threatening level of persecution like the brethren overseas, I did experience my "Christian" family turning on my when I began to follow Jesus. One family member would mock my faith, and criticize me for studying the Bible. They also spoke low of my church. Another one seemed offended that I'd witnessed to my grandmother. Besides that, many of my friends didn't stick around, and I became alone. At my church, there were a couple of people who lost their jobs because their faith in Christ influenced their decisions at work. My pastor had a gun flashed at him for teaching the Word. Many people have left our church because my pastor wouldn't compromise on the Truth. So, I realized that persecution seems to come in different ways. When I look in the Bible (Matthew 5 in particular), Jesus didn't seem to distinguish between "heavy" and "light" persecution, He seemed to lump it into the same category. Now, that's not to take away from those who do suffer more heavily, not at all. It is wonderful that they are counted worthy to suffer more for the sake of the Kingdom. I'm just saying that sometimes Christians in the West are looked at as being weak, and that's not always true. Yes, there can be a certain slothfulness that comes with comfort, but I have also found that the Lord constantly breaks me from that, if I'm willing to repent. I believe that if you are a true believer, persecution will come, regardless.
Posted @ Wednesday, January 02, 2013 2:00 AM by Ashley
Christian are definitely being persecuted in American. Based on my experience, 9 years in the family court; I have NEVER seen a child awarded to the Christian parent. Seriously trying, I cannot recall a single case where the Christian parent won. Ironically, most of the judges in the Brooklyn family court are open pagans, and therefore anti-Christian of the bat.
Posted @ Wednesday, January 02, 2013 9:25 AM by Donauld
Thank you everyone for the comments. I agree with you Ashley; anyone bold enough to speak up about their faith and to do as Jesus commanded, i.e. to go into all the world and preach the Gospel, is going to face the very real risk of being persecuted.  
If anyone else has specific incidents they would like to report, ICC is always collecting information on persecution in the U.S.  
Also, my next question to our blog readers is: if things are changing for the worse in the U.S., what can we do about it? What is the best way to go about making sure that Christianity isn't increasingly marginalized in the United States? Prayer? Lobbying Congress? Sharing the message of Christ with our friends and family? What do you think?
Posted @ Wednesday, January 02, 2013 12:09 PM by Ryan Morgan
I suffered OPEN persecution in Chicago by the community and my Jewish family because I quoted the bible and spoke against homosexuality and drugs. I was threwn out of several universities, was fired unjustly, and had to change apartments several times and was physically attacked and almost murdered at work for the "preaching". I was forced to leave Chicago and treated as a criminal by family and community even though I was law-abiding. Yes, there IS persecution, especially in Christophobic communities like the Jews. When I talk about being persecuted, some "Christians" have disputed that I suffered persecution, though I have plenty of proof from my own experience. Most Christians have been asleep until now and are becoming aware of the situation. The US is increasingly PAGAN and hostile to believers and this will increase, sorry to say
Posted @ Wednesday, January 02, 2013 2:48 PM by Tom Han
I agree that Christian persecution is getting worse world wide, including in the United States. We need to pray, stand up for God's word and show the love of Christ. Come Lord Jesus!
Posted @ Wednesday, January 02, 2013 8:29 PM by Nicole
Be encouraged by the websites above.
Posted @ Thursday, January 03, 2013 6:59 PM by Ezra
Amen to what Nicole said
Posted @ Sunday, January 06, 2013 3:47 PM by Lori Horton
I have been watching as Christs return draws closer, and Christian persecution is going to intensify in the coming days because we are entering into the soon estabishing the NWO as spoken of in Daniel 2; 7; USA government is about to become socialist and Christians and Jews are going to be persecuted worse than in the days of Rome centuries before
Posted @ Monday, January 07, 2013 12:43 PM by murray
In Matthew 24; 9-13 we are to endure for if we do even to death,there is a reward in heaven. This persecution though it will last 10 days the Lord will give us the strength and peace but we must not surrender to satan
Posted @ Monday, January 07, 2013 12:59 PM by murray
God gave me a burden to encourage other believers in the soon return of The Lord. But what I didn't realize that the most opposition I would face is in the Christian Church here in Canada. I have had right in front of my eyes Christians avoid me like fly's on a dug heap. At first it was discouraging but I had to understand the problem and where we are to-day and my dependance of Christ to keep me strong. But what I have come to understand, we are living in a time that Our God has had enough of our disobedience. We must repent and overcome look after our familes and Keep watching as we move forward for what ever is the cost. After the tribulation starts the fifth seal a remenant will be killed and at the end satan kills the 144,000 Jews. Who are we to think this is not required of us as well. God knows who will take that stand. and then to have this hope in your heart Luke 21;36 "Watch you therefore, and pray always, that you may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass and stand before the son of man"
Posted @ Monday, January 07, 2013 1:28 PM by murray
2 Corinthians 12;9-10 
And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly, therefore, will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the Power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in reproaches,in necessities in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake; for when I am weak then I am strong.
Posted @ Monday, January 07, 2013 4:54 PM by The Watchman, til Jesus comes
yes true children of God are being persecuted in America. I have seen and felt the hand of their hated, all because I believe in The Lord God Almighty and His son Jesus the Christ. I am watching the unraveling of America. Wake up people wake up! 
Posted @ Sunday, May 18, 2014 10:26 AM by sandy Berthot
We have to take a stand for what we believe in.If we don't we are lost and the next generations will be lost as well. The government is doing its best to remove anything about God and how this country was found on religions beliefs.They are removing the printed word because they can control what comes accross the computer much easier.If a few years we may not even be able to buy a bible.Pray for this nation and the children that will soon be running this country.
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