State and other persecution of religious people

Donald Sensing wrote

In the lectionary passage from the book of Acts, the apostles are arrested for preaching that Christ is risen. They are questioned before the Jewish priestly Sanhedrin. The high priest reminds them that they had been ordered to stop such preaching.

Peter, speaking for all the apostles, responds, “We must obey God rather than any human authority.” Acts records that had not a Sanhedrin member named Gamaliel argued otherwise, the apostles would have been executed that day.

Fast forward to today, and understand that there are still human authorities who will not countenance any resistance to their authority. China, for example, this month:

This was the destruction of one of the largest church buildings in the country. The Guardian reports,

Witnesses and overseas activists said the paramilitary People’s Armed Police used dynamite and excavators to destroy the Golden Lampstand Church, which has a congregation of more than 50,000, in the city of Linfen in Shanxi province.

ChinaAid, a US-based Christian advocacy group, said local authorities planted explosives in an underground worship hall to demolish the building following, constructed with nearly $2.6m (£1.9m) in contributions from local worshippers in one of China’s poorest regions.

The church had faced “repeated persecution” by the Chinese government, said ChinaAid. Hundreds of police and hired thugs smashed the building and seized Bibles in an earlier crackdown in 2009 that ended with the arrest of church leaders.

Those church leaders were given prison sentences of up to seven years for charges of illegally occupying farmland and disturbing traffic order, according to state media.

And it is not just Christians. Muslims who have lived in China for centuries have suffered even worse: “Before-and-after photos show how China is destroying historical sites to monitor and intimidate its Muslim minority.”

China is waging an unprecedented crackdown on a Muslim minority called the Uighurs, who live in the country’s western frontier region, Xinjiang.

Muslims have for centuries settled in the region, sometimes referred to as East Turkestan.

As part of its crackdown, which has seen the installation of facial-recognition cameras and seemingly arbitrary detentions, China’s government has also destroyed traditional Uighur architecture including mosques and large parts of an ancient city called Kashgar.

Before-and-after images show the extent of some of the destruction of these historical locations.

When the state is the religion, it will always crush or suborn all others. Could never happen here, though, right? Oh, the ground is being tilled already. I give you Harvard University, April 25, 2019, and the keynote speaker of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences “Diversity Conference.”

We are pleased to announce that our keynote speaker will be Tim Wise, prominent anti-racism writer, educator, and activist. A moderated discussion with Tim will be led by Renee Graham, an associate editor and columnist at the Boston Globe.

This is the same Tim Wise who posted on his Facebook page in 2015:

This is America…people basing their beliefs on the fable of Noah and Ark, or their interpretation of Sodom and Gomorrah…rather than science or logic…If you are basing your morality on a fairy tale written thousands of years ago, you deserve to be locked up…detained for your utter inability to deal with reality…NO, we are not obligated to indulge your irrationality in the name of your religious freedom…but we will provide you a very comfortable room, against which walls you may hurl yourself hourly if your choose. Knock yourself out….seriously, knock yourself out, completely, for weeks at a time…I’m sorta kidding but not by much…I don’t believe lunatics like this should be locked up, but I do think they have to be politically destroyed, utterly rendered helpless to the cause of pluralism and democracy …the world is not theirs. They have no right to impose their bullshit on others. They can either change, or shut the hell up, or practice their special brand of crazy in their homes…or go away. Their choice. And this argument applies to any fundamentalist religionist of any faith who thinks they have a right to impose their beliefs on a secular, pluralistic society. Go away.

That is not only no problem for Harvard, it is positively commendable.

All that is bad enough. However, persecution of Jews in America (though thankfully, not by the government) is growing. Not only the violent kind, such as the anti-Trump, anti-Jew gunman, John Earnest, who killed one and shot two others in the Chabad of Poway synagogue in Poway, California. Take for example, this cartoon published by The New York Times in its overseas pages this month:

Yes, that infamous propaganda rag of the alt-right, The  New York Times – oh, wait, you say, the NYT is not alt-right? Really? How can you tell?

No wonder that this week Serge Klarsfeld, France’s most famous Nazi hunter, said, “There is no safe place on earth right now for Jews.” In Washington to receive the Elie Wiesel Prize, the highest award given out by the United States Holocaust Museum, Klarsfeld told reporters,

… the cartoon was “insulting,” for Trump as much as for Netanyahu who was “treated like a dog.”

“It is an anti-Semitic cartoon, that is to say that Jews are guiding the world and that corresponds to a stereotype very common among the far right, which one also finds on the far left,” he said.

Klarsfeld, who spent decades working to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust, is worried about the future of Europe and called on centrists to mobilize ahead of the next European elections.

 “Never has a far-right or far-left regime made its people happy and prosperous, inevitably the extremes of power lead to misery and barbed wire.”

In rhetoric, the far left and the far right differ only in whom they identify as class enemies. Religiously, the alt-right hates Muslims. The alt-left hates Christians. And they both hate Jews even more. So in practice, there is no distinction with a difference.

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