If our faith – and the lifestyle it produces, and the public types of Christianity it produces – cannot attract people on its merits, we are in deep trouble. I do not want the government forcing people to pretend to respect my faith. I do not want to live by and subscribe to a faith that is so weak and without spiritual substance that we have to whine to the government to make people talk nice about us.

Jim Evans, a Baptist pastor in Alabama, seems to feel the same according to his article “Christians Are Not a Persecuted Minority,” published online at EthicsDaily.com:

Nothing has become more tiresome in recent years than the incessant claim by many conservative Christians that they are being persecuted. Every time a church/state issue comes to the fore, a gaggle of Christian activists show up preening in front of television cameras and whining about the war on Christianity ….

But is that really true? Is Christianity some persecuted minority that is under attack? With Christian leaders in high office everywhere, including the White House, is there any real danger that Christianity will somehow be erased from the American landscape?

Amen! It is SO whiney, and so obviously not true. The only way you can come to believe it is to listen to these right-wing whiners on a regular basis. Out there circulating among “real people� I find that, yes, a lot of them are worried about the whiney type of power-hungry Christianity. But apart from that many Americans have a pretty high respect for Christian morality and for Christian doctrine.

Christians are persecuted in every country and every generation, as are members of every other religion. But it is not a big problem in the United States.

There’s a very good test here, in fact. If you tend to believe all us US Christians are being persecuted, where do you usually hear that meme from? Seriously – where do you hear it from? You hear it from powerful religious right media personalities, I’ll bet, or maybe from their obedient servant Bill O’Reilly at Fox.

Here’s another very important point. It’s not persecution when our fellow-Americans try to honor the Founding Fathers’ wishes to protect us all from power-hungry religious leaders.

The U. S. Constitution expressly prohibits government from endorsing a particular religion. It was the founders’ intent to keep religion out of government. They had seen the effect of a close relationship between church and state in Europe and wanted no part of any religiously inspired conflict.

But that’s not persecution. In fact, Christianity has thrived in the freedom created by our legal system. That’s why in most neighborhoods in America there is a church on nearly every corner.

Then Evans leaves off preaching and gets to meddling. After all, who is really responsible for the credibility of Christian witness in this country?

Here’s a clue: Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34,35)

And if those churches [‘on nearly every corner’] are not a sufficient visible symbol of the viability of Christianity, then that’s what Christian leaders need to worry about. That’s not persecution, that’s neglect.

He means “neglect” as in “they are not persecuting us; they are IGNORING us!â€? &/or mocking our ineffectiveness at living what we preach.

He discusses the “Book of Daniel� TV program ruckus:

Why should Hollywood producers do public relations for the church? And why would we want them to?

Why do we think that make-believe Christians living happily in make-believe worlds can possibly make a difference in this very real world? Jesus said we would be known by our love, not by our Nielsen ratings.

And then the real clincher, based solidly in the life of Christ and in the theology of Incarnation and Atonement.

And while we are on the subject, did Jesus ever say anything about the powers that be in this world rolling out the red carpet for us? They didn’t do it for him, so why should his followers expect to be treated any better? In the world, Jesus said, but not of it.

Evans does acknowledge, in his last sentence, that there truly is a problem with how Christians are perceived in our culture.

Not that we don’t need to be concerned about the negative way Christians appear on television, but I don’t know how to make Pat Robertson stop.