Posted: August 3, 2011.
Print: Foreign Policy
But if these stories have a place in every Christian’s heritage, American evangelicals have taken spiritual and ideological empathy with the persecuted to new heights. Despite centuries in the American mainstream—and the fact that there are about 100 million of them today—many conservative evangelicals in the United States think of themselves as a persecuted minority. They are the few faithful who refuse to bow down before Obamicus Maximus (or Sultan Barack the Magnificent, as a disturbing number of crazies believe). The war on Christmas is old news; now half of Americans also believe that Christians are “being persecuted” at the hands of advocates of same-sex marriage. It’s little wonder they are reaching out to Christians thousands of miles away (the ones who are actually being tortured—in places where torture means more than being forced to watch a gay pride parade).
Sscholars of evangelicalism have long observed that cultivating a persecution complex—even one that is mostly a self-perpetuating fiction—is not a bad way to maintain authority and stoke followers’ sense of divine purpose. The trouble is that this mindset may make evangelicals look less like their oppressed brethren and more like the very despots they hate.