In my last post, I pointed out that while what Phil Robertson is facing isn’t persecution, it does betray that our nation cannot handle disagreement and has bought full-force into the secular/sacred divide, believing that Christians ought to just shut up and keep their religion confined to Sunday mornings.
What Phil is facing is hardly persecution; he is suspended by the network for a moral teaching of Christianity, not the heart of the Gospel itself. Likewise, the Network hasn’t said if it’s what he said or how he said it (specifically the crude manner). After all, The Advocate, a magazine dedicated to homosexual views and issues, named Pope Francis as the “person of the year.” Phil essentially said the same thing the Pope did, albeit in a much less tactful manner. In other words, how Phil stated his opinion is as much to blame for the outcry as is that he said it.
What is more troubling, however, is how Christians are up in a firestorm over this, going out and purchasing “Duck Dynasty” merchandise and creating a multitude of “I support Phil groups.” In fact, there are already a multitude of such groups, one numbering nearly 800,000 and another numbering 300,000, with smaller ones well into 50-60,000. Yet, if you look for groups that “stand with Syrian Christians” or even pay attention to the massacres occurring over in Christianity’s homeland, the biggest group has around 4,000 followers.
Of course, Facebook “likes” and followers hardly account for actions. Consider, however, that Walmart sold out of Duck Dynasty merchandise shortly after the controversy began. Christians turned their outrage into action and are continuing to do so, threatening boycotts, “buycotts,” and all sorts of things. Yet, when it comes to the actual persecution faced by Christians overseas, persecution caused at the hands of the US tax payer-backed rebels in Syria, there’s nothing. Christians have not taken to the streets in protest. They have not embarked upon a campaign of writing to congressmen and the President. They are not preaching from the pulpit this Sunday, as most certainly the Duck Dynasty fiasco will be the centerpiece of at least a few sermons.
Syrian Christians face extinction. When we read about Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus, we must note that he was on his way to Damascus to persecute Christians who were already there. Within the first few months of Christ’s resurrection, Christianity made its way to Damascus. Many of the earliest Church Fathers, writers, and even New Testament characters took place or were from modern Syria. One cannot think of Christianity is a proper historical sense without also thinking of Syria. Yet, after 2,000 years of existence, Christianity faces its greatest threat in that region. Think, for a moment, of what persecutions Christians have faced in that area. The Roman persecutions, the Islamic persecutions, even persecutions caused by the Crusaders; yet, more Christians have faced death, Christianity has faced its greatest regional threat in the modern day than in 2,000 years of almost continuous persecution. Our brothers and sisters in Syria are facing their greatest threat ever, yet the Church in the West remains silent.
Perhaps we should have Patriarch John X of Antioch interviewed by GQ wherein he can state his opinion on homosexuality. Perhaps GLAAD will be kind enough as to raise an objection, causing Christians to turn their attention to someone who is really persecuted. While blood is not necessary for persecution, blood always signals that persecution is occurring in full-swing, and Syrian Christians have spilled blood. They haven’t lost lucrative television contracts, they haven’t had nasty articles written about them, they haven’t been called names; they’ve been murdered, placed in mass graves, and beaten until forced to leave.
Where is the Christian outrage over their deaths, especially when these deaths are backed, supported, and paid for with our money? If the US government helped pay for A&E to cut ties with the Robertson clan, I assume there would be protests in the streets and cries for senators and even the president to step out. The backlash would be beyond comparison. Yet, for Christians facing real persecution there is relative silence. It is a shame and betrays how ethnocentric and selfish Christians in America have become.
For those who do feel like they want to help, for those who truly desire to help Syrian Christians outlast this persecution, here are a few things you can do:
- Pray – prayer is not overrated or outdated. For those who cannot give, for those who cannot help, for those who cannot write, prayer is the option. It is the giving of time, of thoughts, of actions. It is what united us to God and with others who pray for a common cause. Pray for the persecuted, but also pray for their persecutors that they might find Life and repent of their ways. Overall, pray for peace.
- Donate – for those that can afford it, you can always donate to the IOCC (International Orthodox Christian Charities) who are helping both with those who stay and with refugees.
- Write – write to your representatives and encourage them to cease supporting the Syrian rebels. The civil war in Syria continues because the rebels have an endless supply of cash coming their way. Without money, there’s only so much damage they can do.
- Protest – if the persecution continues and our involvement increases in support of the persecutors, Christians should engage in peaceful protests. Nothing that mocks our leaders, nothing that spews hatred, but rather to show our bafflement at why we are supporting those who persecute our brothers and sisters.
Never forget that when one is a Christian, one is a part of the family of believers. You have more in common with the suffering Syrian who is a Christian than you do with your neighbor who is a nonbeliever. If you can show outrage over a man who simply will not suffer from his crude opinion, certainly you can exert as much effort towards those who suffer on a daily basis and could lose their lives for a faith we have taken for granted.