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Abandoned Bible/Flickr photo by Patrick Feller

The roots of Christophobia

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By Joe Newby

In the latter half of May 2015, Msgr. Janusz Urbanczyk, the Vatican’s representative to a conference held by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe dealing with religious intolerance and discrimination, said that Christianity is the most persecuted religion in the world, even in nations where Christians are a majority.

According to Msgr. Urbanczyk, “the lives of many people are being affected only because of their Christian faith, which actually can be found at the roots of the culture of tolerance and equality.”

There are, of course, many reasons for this, but perhaps the primary reason is something that a growing number of people now call “Christophobia,” a condition defined by MacMillan’s Online Dictionary as: “intolerance of, hostility towards or discrimination against Christians.”

According to Matthew Schmitz, the term “Christophobia” was first used by Jewish legal scholar Joseph Weiler in his book, “A Christian Europe: An Exploratory Essay,” and popularized by George Weigel’s  “The Cube and the Cathedral.” Regardless of when the term was first used, the condition has been around since the time of Christ, as David Murray observed in a post at Christianity.com.

“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you,” Jesus told His disciples in John 15:18. He continued: “If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

“Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also,” he added.

And, as history teaches, Christians were persecuted in a variety of ways. Some were crucified, others fed to wild beasts and according to some accounts, set on fire and used as lampstands in Nero’s garden.

Foxe’s Book of Martyrs and Foxe’s Book of English Martyrs both document horrific treatment meted out to Christians – many times by the so-called religious leaders of the day.

Fast forward to the 21st century, and we find that Christophobia continues to thrive.

The most extreme examples of modern Christophobia can be seen in the Middle East, where Christians — including children — are routinely murdered for refusing to accept Islam. One grisly account by Andrew White, an Anglican canon serving in Baghdad, says that ISIS militants cut a 5-year-old boy he baptized in two.

Granted, Christians in the west aren’t being cut in half, decapitated, fed to wild beasts or set on fire and used as lampstands — yet. We like to think we’re more civilized than that and so we like to use kinder, more gentler, forms of persecution. Keep in mind, that persecution does not automatically mean death.

In the west, we like to find more creative ways to attack Christians. Instead of killing them outright, we marginalize them, demonize them, mock them and treat them as less than fully human. We claim to celebrate “tolerance” and “diversity,” but those things are almost never extended to Christians.

Murray notes: “Even in America, there is a determined effort to remove Christianity from the public sphere and consciousness: Christian holidays and symbols are being extirpated, prayer is banned in public schools, the 10 Commandments have been removed from courts and classrooms, blasphemous art and a mocking media deride Christian values.”

“We might ask,” he added, “’What have we done to deserve this? What threat do we pose? Why is Christophobia the only acceptable bigotry that’s left?’”

Why, indeed. Besides the fact that Christians exist, Murray cites three main bullet points.

  1. People are afraid of others being changed
  2. People are afraid of society being changed
  3. People are afraid of being changed themselves

“Some people may want others changed and some may want some change in society. Very few want to be changed themselves; at least, not as much as this man was; not a change at the very core of their being,” Murray added. “A little personal change, maybe; but not the kind of change that impacts everything about them. People fear how Christ could change their relationships, their entertainment choices, their business practices, their spending patterns, and their morals.”

“Therefore, Christophobia,” he added. “Hence ‘Get out of here!’ They’d rather have a maniac than the Messiah.”

Where can one find Christophobia in the west? That’s easy. Turn on the television. Read the news. As we will see in upcoming articles, Christophobia can be found in the media, the news, our entertainment, our education system, the political system, even in our government.

And keep in mind, this is not a liberal/conservative issue. Christophobia is bipartisan. It doesn’t matter if one is a Democrat or a Republican, supports Ted Cruz or Barack Obama. It doesn’t even matter what denomination one claims.

Yes, Virginia, regardless of what one might tell you, Christophobia — the irrational fear and hatred of Christians and Christianity — is very real, and it’s getting worse.

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  • Brad Thompson

    I can’t believe I need to actually say this out loud, but dimunition of privelege is not the same as persecution. You have the right to celebrate your traditions. You do not have the right to a tacit endorsement of your particular tradition above any other, which is precisely what is at stake in matters of public sectarian prayer and display of religious symbols in courthouses. It’s been fashionable to claim persecution, to claim martyrdom, both because Christ’s example elevates it and (more insidiously) because it allows those who call themselves “Christian” to shift attention away from rampant hypocrisy and corruption of their own faith and towards some external “enemy.” It allows you to say “Never mind the blood on my hands, never mind how I’ve betrayed the Gospel–AT LEAST I’M NOT THEM!” Worse than merely dishonest, such a move is too easy. If your faith doesn’t challenge you, doesn’t push you beyond your limits, and most especially doesn’t place you at odds with the world and the human institutions that misshape it, you’re doing it wrong.

  • Neal Schindler

    I’m a Jew. When Christian symbols dominate the public landscape — Christian religious symbols, mind you, not Christmas trees and Peeps — I feel a little left out. My feeling left out isn’t so much the issue as the fact that the U.S. has no national religion. Never did, and hopefully never will. Christianity is the majority religion in the U.S., by a WIDE margin. So the chances of town squares being decorated with Wiccan, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, and Jewish symbols but not Christian ones — well, the chances are slim, because we don’t have altogether that much power (except maybe in majority-Jewish suburbs, or majority-whatever suburbs).

    So to me, a cross in public could say: Hey there, Jewish person. Have fun with your Judaism, but people hereabouts know what the REAL faith of this place is. Hint: It’s Christianity.

    I’m not saying I’m persecuted. I am saying that the power dynamic still slants WAY in favor of Christianity. I get that folks think pastors will soon be obligated by law to marry same-sex couples. I get that Christian-owned business — not Christian businesses, because a cake shop isn’t Christian unless the cakes are somehow Biblically prescribed — are worried they’ll have to make Wiccan cakes and same-sex marriage cakes and scorpion-human wedding cakes and such. I just don’t know if any of this compares to, say, a mosque being threatened by “peaceful” protestors wielding guns and hateful shirts and signs.

    Next time LifeCenter is surrounded by armed Jews wearing obscene anti-Christ shirts and signs, let’s talk.

    And yes, peaceful protests, whether they follow only the letter of the law or also the spirit, are legal. Yay First Amendment! But for all the talk of Christophobia in conservative Christian media lately, I’ve been noticing tons of Islamophobic bile. And I think some, but not all, of the Islamophobia is coming from the same sources as the talk of Christophobia. Because, true to the suffix, it’s all about fear. As Brad rightly notes, losing some of one’s privilege is scary.

    • JBshepphard

      All religions are a plague on humanity in need of extermination. Along with the bottom feeders that are draining our economies and burning our cities.

      • JB, maybe you shouldn’t be on a religion news and commentary site if you hate all religions. This site exists so people can have a safe platform to discuss their faith, OK?

        • JBshepphard

          Well at least I can say I have no bigotry , as most religious people do against each other, and unbelievers.Supposedly god is love, mercy, and peace.
          Yet who are the biggest perpetrators of hate and war in the world? 20 of 21 conflicts are about religion , and you have the Christians calling for more war again.I have no qualms about war, or killing, or anything else for that matter.But sending humanity back to the dark ages over superstitions is absurd.

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  • Mark Moore

    Christophobia is sometimes a rational response. Say you are an American Indian that had his tribe massacred, culture smashed and is living on a reservation curtsey of Christians. Christophobia is a sensible response. Say you are an atheist in the deep south and you don’t dare tell anyone you are atheist or you will lose your job. You are being pestered daily to come to one church and another. What if you are a Jew and you know Judaism has suffered a couple of thousands of years of persecution from Christians culminating in the holocaust that was carried out by Lutherans and Roman Catholics. You might have just a touch of Christophobia. What if you are gay, Christophobia might be right for you. Same for blacks that were enslaved by Christians with the Bible condoning it Christophobia might be the right response.

    Christophobia may be the best thing going for a lot of people.

    • JoeMvGod

      Old MM, the boy-licker.

    • 1Myles1

      Loser troll

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