Look, I understand that in countries like China, Iraq, Egypt, or Israel, it is certainly possible and even probable that a Christian might be persecuted for his or her religious faith, but in America where 80% of the country is made up of Christians and roughly 95% of our government is made up of Christians (including the President), it is extremely unlikely. It is more likely that a Republican would be persecuted in Alabama than a Christian to be persecuted in the United States.
That is why when I saw a story floating around the Facebook about a second-grade girl in North Carolina who had an assignment to write an essay on who impacted her life and was not allowed to write that essay on Jesus Christ, I was suspicious. For starters, we are talking about North Carolina here, not Vermont or California.
Plus, we all know how many Christians (especially fundamentalists and “non-denominational” Christians) have a persecution complex. Because they view Jesus as having been persecuted and the Bible claims that one of the signs of the End Times will be that Christians will be persecuted, they just can’t get enough of the “persecuted card.” In fact, many of these Christians seem to believe that not being allowed to shove their religion down everyone else’s throat means that they are being persecuted just like Jesus was on the cross. The irony of course is that they are often the ones persecuting everyone else.
I should also add that pretending Christians are being persecuted is a great way for Churches and ministries to raise money from the masses who have not yet learned that chain e-mails and anecdotal Facebook posts from strangers without citations are not reliable sources of information.
The story seemed fishy to me, so I looked it up on Snopes. I have found that Snopes is pretty good about debunking crap like this and sure enough this was crap. Not only is it flat out not true, but because the “story” gained so much attention, the Principal of the school issued an official statement. Here is an interesting part of that statement:
“…the student made it abundantly clear that she had never been forbidden to write about Jesus as her hero. As a matter, of fact, we congratulated the young lady on her courage, and encouraged her to continue through life with such a strong Christian faith.”
Not only did the school not persecute this girl, they “encouraged” her in her “strong Christian faith.” I think that last part steps over the line a little bit. It isn’t the school’s job to encourage someone’s faith. It is the school’s job to teach their students the facts about reality. But it doesn’t end there. The Principal ends the statement this way:
“We are a learning community that practices tolerance, where everyone is welcome, and Jesus Christ is still and will always be OUR HERO.”
For the record, the Principal capitalized “Our hero” not me. In a school like this in which Jesus Christ is the “hero” of the school, the likelihood of a Christian being persecuted is pretty much zero.
Contrary to the Principal’s view, I don’t think it took any courage for this girl to parrot her parents to a crowd where everyone including the administration agreed with her. That’s not courage. Courage would be if she wrote about how an atheist was her hero for helping her break away from religious belief. If she had done that, she really would be persecuted. But agreeing with the majority and the power structure? That isn’t courage and no one is going to get persecuted for doing it.
So here is a story of a girl living in a very Christian area where even the public school principal encourages her strong faith and somehow Christians have turned the story around to say that she was persecuted for her very strong Christian faith. For the record, the girl is eight. How strong can her Christian faith really be? The sad part is that this young girl has been indoctrinated into her Christian faith by her parents and her entire community including her school. The real persecution here is on critical thinking and education.
- Remove Jesus Please (snopes.com)
- God’s Not Allowed In Our School (skepticink.com)
- Tom Cruise, Scientology, Christianity, and Hilarity (skepticink.com)
- 5 Best Books To De-Convert A Christian (skepticink.com)
- Searching For The Historical Hercules (skepticink.com)