Christians Are Not Being Persecuted in America – But That Doesn’t Mean All Is Well

Christians Are Not Being Persecuted in America – But That Doesn’t Mean All Is Well

Written by Aaron M. Renn |
Friday, February 2, 2024

While Christians might experience persecution, just because you are in trouble doesn’t mean you are being persecuted for being a Christian. In the case of this church, it is willfully violating the city’s zoning code, which is religiously neutral – if anything, religious institutions are privileged in zoning – and not to single this church out or because of some anti-Christian animus. The city may be unwise or even heartless, but that doesn’t mean they are persecuting the pastor. 

I saw several articles posted about a pastor in Ohio who is being charged with several zoning code violations because he allowed homeless people to stay in his church during freezing weather. He’s apparently allowed homeless people in the church previously, had been warned against it, and is de facto using the church as an overflow facility for the homeless shelter next door.

Per the article, some people have called this persecution:

Ashton Pittman, editor of the Mississippi Free Press, said Avell’s story was a rare example in the U.S. of “actual religious persecution of a Christian by the state.”

I beg to differ. The city may be heartless here, but this is the sort of zoning dispute people of all stripes run into all the time in cities. It’s not unusual for even those who have followed all the rules to end up in kafkaesque situations. (Also, it’s not clear if his case, which is in a municipal court, is actually a criminal one).

As the guy who coined the term “Negative World” to describe the way post-2014 American culture now views Christianity negatively (or at least skeptically), you might think I would be aligned with people talking about persecution in America. But I’m not.

Christians are not actually being persecuted in America today. I’m sure there are individuals who have been attacked by a disturbed whack job or something because of where they go to church. But such cases are surely rare.

When I think of persecution, I think of places like China, where pastors get thrown in prison and churches get demolished by the state. Or India, where some Christians groups have been the target of sectarian violence. Or North Korea. Or perhaps some Muslim countries where Christians suffer various legal or cultural debilities.

This is not what is happening in the United States.

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