28 January, 2011

Comments on the discrimination against Christians in Europe


A story is told of a young businessman sharing a compartment on a train with an elderly gentleman. When he noticed that the old fellow was quietly and intently praying with his rosary in his hand, the young man chided him for his 'superstition' and told him that science had rendered the beliefs of religion irrelevant. “How did you come to discover that?” the old gentleman asked. His companion didn't really know how to answer the question fully right then and there, so he offered to send him a few texts and public lecture notes on the subject for his enlightenment. “What's your address?' he asked “I'll send you the material via the Post Office.” The old lad rummaged in his coat pocket and produced a tattered business card which read 'Louis Pasteur, Paris Institute of Scientific Research.' Louis Pasteur was the nineteenth-century giant of microbiology who proved the germ-theory of disease and invented the rabies vaccine. His humility certainly didn't hinder his greatness and his commitment to science did not preclude his belief in God.

Today believers throughout the western world are facing similar challenges to any public expression of faith, often without the courtesy which the young businessman offered to his travel companion. Most often these challenges to the place of religion in the public square is laced with insult and anger. One need only survey the comments that often accompany religious articles here on the Holy Post to see the truth of this. Non-believers accuse believers of malicious motives or a feeble intellect for believing that God exists or that He has any relevance in today's society. Bishop Peter Smith, a Roman Catholic bishop in the UK summed up this attitude well when he said Religion is regarded as a legally permissible private eccentricity; allowable behind closed doors once a week, but not in any way to be given expression in public or working life.” Lord Carey, former Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury added: “What is happening in Western Europe is not persecution but a marginalizing of faith which seeks to portray it as a matter of personal conscience only. Some examples of this originate from a mistaken but well-meant political correctness that is anxious not to upset minority faiths by seeming to ‘privilege’ Christianity.” Lord Carey also warned of an aggressive campaign by atheists to banish faith from the public sphere. Clearly the place of Christian faith within the 21st century is indeed under attack from those who demand that the values of secularism alone be used as the measure of what is permissible in public debates.

This trend has led to a situation where Christians (at least in Europe) are now being discriminated against for their beliefs.

The Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians is an NGO registered in Austria. The Observatory hosts a website which monitors and catalogues instances in which Christians and Christianity are marginalized or discriminated against throughout Europe. The Observatory focuses on Europe (European Union, EU accession countries, and wider Europe). In speaking to the issue of discrimination they write in the most recent report “Religious intolerance shows itself in ways that go beyond voicing disagreement. Attempts are underway to make the public expression or exercise of the non- tolerated religion impossible. When such intolerance is conducted by a state, it becomes discrimination with regard to the exercise of fundamental freedoms. When it is conducted by individuals or groups of society, it becomes a social phenomenon.” The recent cancellation of weekly mass, celebrated on the University campus in Barcelona, Spain, due to security issues for believers at the hands of demonstrators who both confronted people entering the chapel as well as entering and disrupting the mass itself is an example of both forms of discrimination. The acts of the 'progressive secularists' discriminated against the individuals who attended the masses while the decision of the University to simply close the chapel rather than charge those disrupting the mass is an example of institutional discrimination.

Christianity is most definitely returning to the days of persecution and oppression. Believers have faced such a situation before. We will succeed in surviving the current wave of opposition and hostility, albeit not without considerable effort and difficulties in the years ahead. Just as the young businessman could not see the wisdom of Louis Pasteur those many years ago, so too are the radical voices of secularism ignorant of the insult and discrimination they offer to believers today.

(For more information, click on the link of the preceding story to read the complete Observatory Report)

5 comments:

  1. I have to disagree with the premise that hostility towards anyone is based on his beliefs. It has to do with his behavior. Especially in cities, where we are overcrowded already, and living virtually in one anothers' pockets.

    We need privacy in order to maintain mental health and stability; and how much each of us requires depends very much on individual attributes, so there's no "formula" that one can use as a measuring stick. I, for example, am a very serious introvert -- I require much more privacy than most people or I cease to funtion at an optimum level. And no, it's not a disease, and it's not something that one can "fix," not being broken in the first place. That's just the way I was born and the way I am.

    In cities especially, privacy and solitude are really hard to come by, so we tend to create our own emotional and mental worlds in which we hide during our daily lives. We avoid vis-a-vis interaction with strangers, even those we see all the time. A barely polite nod and a tight smile towards a familiar face can actually be considered effusive!

    And then, along comes this energy-fueled, wondrous experience-inspired, fervent dervish of a being, filled to overflowing with the boundless joy of sharing his newfound enlightenment with EVERYONE, and he bowls into a crowd of people who simply want to be left on their own with their own thoughts, and he INSISTS on intruding!

    If he were a golden retriever puppy who just piled into your picnic, you'd whack him with a newspaper and teach him sit-stay. But this paragon of discovered virtue is a person, and he believes he has the right to tell you all about his specialness, and that if he can only MAKE YOU LISTEN, then you, too, can be full of specialness. And, oh yeah, somewhere in all that specialness is a game he's playing for heaven points or their equivalent, and the more of his own brand of special he can "share," the more points he gets. But, as I said, this guy is a person, and whacking him with a newspaper is out of the question.

    So...the usual answer is to hunch inwards, turn away, frown with impatience, and mumble something about lack of time or interest. For most people, that would be enough, and we'd be left alone. No problem. But not for the bent-on-a-mission folk. Our negativity is something they believe they can overcome -- they just have to refuse to take, "NO!" for an answer and try harder!

    And that, my friends, is where the behavior changes and the trouble begins.

    (continued in next comment...)

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  2. (...contined from last comment)

    (Repeating for continuity: And that, my friends, is where the behavior changes and the trouble begins.)

    Truly, it does not matter whether this intruder is selling (and I use that particular word very deliberately) yo-yos, Ginsu knives, his political thoughts, his religion, tickets to the World Cup, or a seat on the space shuttle, the behavior and attitude is the same: YOU NEED IT whether you think so or not, and HE is the ONLY ONE who can get it for you! And the biggest difference between selling a product and selling an idea is the cost -- an actual physical product only costs you money. Buying the idea will cost you much more than money. And most people don't want any part of a "deal" like that, although what they want is of no importance to the guy trying to make his "sale."

    And it's that attitude and behavior of, "What you say you want isn't important, I know better than you do what you need if only you'd stop shaking your head and just admit it," that is gonna get this guy whacked every time, but not with a mere newspaper. He'll get whacked with a fist, a brick, a lawsuit, a slam in the local media, a complaint to the cops or politicians, and whatever else it takes to make him leave others alone. Then, of course, not liking being whacked one little bit (but oddly enough, not getting the message behind the whack at all), he whacks back -- with accusations of bigotry and discrimination and tales of being treated like a criminal or a second-class citizen or whatever flava he can claim that will bring sympathy to his side and promote the idea that he ought to be given the legal authority to continue to intrude on those who wish to be left alone.

    People believe what they will believe. That is not the problem. When people think they have the right to tell others what THEY have to believe -- that's the problem.

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  3. "People believe what they will believe. That is not the problem. When people think they have the right to tell others what THEY have to believe -- that's the problem."

    That is pure common sense to me Lady Janus.

    ReplyDelete
  4. The discrimination against RCs and Prots today in Europe or anywhere is regrettable, but we should also remember that for about 1400 years, Rome ran persecution and killing against Bible-believing christians, Jews, Muslims, witches, and anyone else who didn't bend the knee to Rome. According to some reports as many as 50 million people died over 1400 years, or an average of about 35,000 a year. Large numbers died at the hands of the Spanish Inquistion which was reportedly authorized by Rome, over a period of 400 years from about 1400 A.D. to 1800 A.D. Also witches were killed all over Europe according to some accounts. One of the most evil men in history was Torquemada, the man in charge of the Spanish Inquistion for a while.

    Instead of genuine sorrow or regret for these events in history, I have heard comments rewriting the history or some even trying to justify or diminish the seriousness of what happened.

    For videos on Youtube about the Inquistion go to:
    http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=spanish+inquisition+documentary&aq=3sx

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  5. STG: You are correct. However please consider this: Since the RC Church has been guilty of persecuting, discrimination and even killing in the past, don't you think that we would be the most sensitive to seeing these same forces reasserting themselves today?

    Yes, it is because we have recognized our sin, and because we have studied how we came to that horrid state. Think of it as a kind of spiritual A.A. You can't blow smoke up a fellow alcoholic because they've tried it themselves many times before. It's the same for the Church. We recognize the smoke of Satan because it once filled our church in the past.

    Fr. Tim

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