Lets remember what Jesus said:
"Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death and you will be hated by all nations because of me...Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold." (Matthew 24:9)
'Bloodless persecution' predicted for Christians
Christianity has been around what now is Europe since the first century, with some parts of the New Testament written to people in Greece and Rome. But a new report is warning that open hostility to Christianity across the continent is on the rise and intolerance is being paired with legislative power to attack and violate the religious rights of the faithful.
"There are signs that hostility towards free and open demonstrations of faith is growing. Christians are increasingly marginalized and are appearing more often in courts over matters related to faith. So I think that we are heading for a bloodless persecution," Gudrun Kugler told Mercatornet about her organization's newest report.
Those two paragraphs serve as the introduction to the topic. Where is this coming from?
Based on this published report, Shadow Report On Intolerance And Discrimination Against Christians In Europe, we see the following summary:
Kugler, who works with an organization that watches for intolerance and discrimination, said the report found that European Christians are under attack for their freedom of expression, freedom of conscience and parental rights, are targeted by hate crimes:
"Discriminatory laws directly or indirectly prevent equal exercise of freedom," the report finds. "With regard to Christianity in Europe, this is often the case in the areas of freedom of speech, freedom of conscience and freedom of religion.
"We often come across overly broad equal treatment or anti-discrimination legislation that causes indirect side-effect discrimination of Christians, criminalizing core elements of Christian teaching," it said.
The article contains a few examples:
Then in Spain there was a judge who was suspended from his position for objecting to the adoption of a young girl by lesbians. And in the United Kingdom, a registrar was ordered to perform homosexual weddings despite the individual's personal religious objections to the procedures.
Further, the council in the UK city of Brighton demanded that a care home for elderly Christians provided information about residents' sexual orientation, and cut funding for the service organization when the demand was not met.
Regarding Christians' freedom of expression, the report found that Spain's government fined a Christian television network 100,000 euros for carrying advertising opposing the homosexual lifestyle, an anti-abortion campaigner was jailed for sending abortion photos to Queen Elizabeth Hospital and a street preacher in the United Kingdom was arrested after telling passersby that homosexuality is a sin.
"BHA (British Humanist Association) has called on the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums, North Somerset Council, to visit Britain and South West England to shut down the zoo. The secular group claims the zoo is misleading tens of thousands of visitors annually and 'threatening public understanding' by questioning the traditional view of evolution," the report continued.
Regarding the collective freedom of religion, the report found, an Italian attorney, Georg Zanger, announced plans to sue members of the Catholic Church on grounds of membership in a criminal organization, and homosexuals disrupted Catholic services because the church was refusing communion to those who openly flaunted their rejection of church teaching.
And a homosexual advocacy law in the UK forced the Catholic Church to withdraw from adoption services and a proposal would have forced Christian churches to hire practicing homosexuals as youth workers.
The change in standards also has encompassed education. In the Netherlands, students are taught that "Christianity would be abolished in the end, all other religions would disappear and everybody will convert to Islam."
Regarding employment, in the UK, an Employment Appeal Tribunal ordered that Christians cannot act according to their consciences if their beliefs conflict with the promotion of homosexuality, and a foster care giver was suspended from her career for allowing a Muslim child in her care to convert to Christianity.
These are just a few examples, but they paint the portrait of whats happening in Europe right now. There are more. These examples are important to cite, as they give us an accurate picture:
Perhaps some of the most egregious cases uncovered by the study include the rights of parents.
In Austria the government enforced sex education guidelines that "practically prohibit the teaching of authentic Christian sexual values," and in Germany, a mother of eight was jailed for eight days after she refused to send her nine-year-old son to school for its sexual education program.
Turkey requires students to study Islam and Sweden is trying to "curb the influence" of religion – in private church schools.
The study found that journalists and the media are contributing, with a situation in Germany where the German Daily "Die Zeit" wrongly accused Christians of favoring a radical law in Uganda and a popular BBC soap, "Coronation Street," featured attacks on the Christian faith.
In Austria, a pro-abortion rally featured shouts of, "If Mary had had an abortion, we would have been spared from you!" In Germany, speeches at a psychotherapy congress on whether sexual orientation could be changed had to be delivered under police protection because of the "tolerance" of homosexual organization
Just recently in a Hungarian talk show, the statement was made that, "A child's life can be destroyed by two things: Christianity and pornography."
In Belarus, a mother was denied permission to pray at the tomb of her son, who had been executed by authorities, and a war memorial cross was destroyed in Amsterdam because Muslims said it "disturbed" them.
The results are "hate crimes" against Christians, the report said.
"Hatred of Christianity is often directed against church buildings," the report warned. "Acts of vandalism and desecration take place more frequently than many would expect. The French daily 'Le Figaro' reports one every other day in France alone. Some desecrations prove to be satanic acts, others an expression of disapproval of moral viewpoints of Christianity."
Against individuals, such "hate crimes" range from "beatings to killings," the report said.
The report recommends that European governments ensure equal rights for Christians and modify legislation that attacks the Christian faith, watch for discrimination against Christians and take action when appropriate.
"I have the impression that journalists and policy-makers are often more anti-Christian than their fellow citizens. But they shape the mood of the country. What we observe is that Christians are increasingly being described as 'homophobic,' sexist, intolerant and unworldly," she said.
The last comment deserves to be bolded and repeated, as it represents the crux of the matter entirely:
"Christianity and the cross are a constant bone of contention. Perhaps crucifixes and other religious imagery are reminders that people ought to put their lives in order. Christians are also the last obstacle to a new vision of secularity which is so politically correct that it verges on totalitarianism," she said.
Indeed. That shows us the bottom line on persecution. And it will get worse as we approach the Tribulation - a time which will usher in the worst persecution ever seen on this planet.
In fact, the persecution reaches such levels during the Tribulation, that the saints who were killed during the Tribulation and who are now in Heaven proclaim:
"When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. They called out in a loud voice. 'How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood? Then each of them was given a white robe and they were told to wait a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and brothers who were to be killed as they had been was completed." (Revelation 6:10-11)
As described in the book of Revelation, we see their task (and our task) as we face persecution:
"This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God's commandments and remain faithful to Jesus" (Revelation 14:12)
While persecution is currently more subtle in Europe and in the U.S., we see this story every day in other parts of the world:
Islamists Massacre Two Coptic Families in Egypt
News of an Islamist massacre of two Christian Coptic families has emerged from Upper Egypt with the return of Internet connections to the country, after a one-week Internet blackout imposed by the troubled regime. The massacre, not the first in Egypt in recent weeks, took place on Sunday afternoon (January 30) at the village of Sharona near Maghagha, in Minya province, and is being reported by AINA, the Assyrian International News Agency.
According to the report, the Islamist murderers, aided by Muslim neighbors of the Copts, stormed the homes of the families, gaining access to the houses' roofs from the roofs of the families' Muslim neighbors. They killed eleven, including children, and seriously injured four more people.
"The two families were staying in their homes with their doors locked when suddenly the Islamists descended on them," said Bishop Agathon, "killing eleven and leaving for dead four other family members. In addition, they looted everything that was in the two Coptic houses, including money, furniture and electrical equipment. They also looted livestock and grain."
One group of masked assailants infiltrated the home of Copt Joseph Waheeb Massoud and killed him, his wife Samah, their 15-year old daughter Christine and 8-year-old son Fady Youssef. Another group simultaneously accessed the house of Copt Saleeb Ayad Mayez and shot him dead, along with his wife Zakia, their 4-year-old son Joseph and 3-year-old daughter Justina, Saleeb's 23-year-old sister Amgad, his mother Zakia and a woman named Saniora Fahim.
We can ask the same question that will be asked by the saints in heaven:
"How Long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?"
Revelation 7:15-17 gives us the answer. The scriptures apply to us just as much as it will apply to the saints who "have come out of the great tribulation", and the scriptures also provide us with our fate - that ultimate fate that we patiently await:
"they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them.
Never again will they hunger;
never again will they thirst.
The sun will not beat upon them,
nor any scorching heat.
For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd;
he will lead them to springs of living water.
And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."
AMEN. That will be the fate of those persecuted during the Tribulation - but this also applies to us. We'll just be there a little sooner. And just a little later in the sequence of events, at the very end of the Tribulation, just before Jesus comes back to earth, we'll all be celebrating together, in Heaven. This is what the apostle John saw in Heaven, as found in Revelation 19, immediately before the Second Coming:
"After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting:
Salvation and glory and power belong to our God,
For true and just are his judgments."
For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come and his bride has made herself ready."
I love a story with a good ending. Note too, that the Tribulation still hasn't ended yet, at the time of the above scriptures and we see the Church already in heaven - a point worth noting. We were also there for a while, because we see that "the wedding" has already occurred - again (and its worth repeating) - the Tribulation hasn't ended yet. This is one of many arguments against a "post-tribulation rapture", but that is another story for another day.
We have to endure this world now - patiently - as directed by God. But soon we will be in the presence of Jesus - in our permanent home, New Jerusalem.
Its all good.