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July 29th, 2012, 02:40
Originally Posted by JemyM View Post
Id like to point out that martyrdom and Christian prosecution is very strongly tied to the belief system and is often drastically exaggerated for political reasons.

Even worse, it's often the case that any persecution will eventually be re-packaged and sold as "Christian persecution". Extermination of Jews under the roman empire = Christian persecution. Oppression of religious minorities due to lack of religious freedom = Christian persecution. Even the nazi's extermination of minority Christian groups (carried out by Christians) = Christian persecution. Throwing out Christians who do missionary work where they shouldn't = Christian persecution. Criticizing Christians = Christian persecution.

It is very important that Christians are in the eyes of the public a persecuted group, no matter it's size, it's own actions and the situation for non-christians in the same situation.
I'd also point out that some of the consistently predictable sources for extreme persecution of religious groups through history come from what outside observers would tend to view as being from the same major faith category. Consider the history of the Catholic Church and how it dealt with apostates and heretics. The definition and prosecution of heresy was not at its inception a cudgel to wield against what we would consider to be non-Christians but rather to crush those Christians who threatened the Church's monopoly and brand (the first person executed as a "heretic" was himself a catholic bishop who espoused holiness to be something that did not quite match papal opulence.) Many protestant faiths were no better in their early days - particularly when they were intertwined with the power of the state and had bot the means and the motivation to jealously guard their brand monopoly.

Consider also the violent clashes and histories of oppression amongst the major branches of Islam. When a single religion establishes itself as the overwhelming dominant spiritual force within a culture the greatest threat to the hegemony of those at its head comes not so much from faiths which seem distinct in some way but rather from those which they may feel are counterfeit. If I own all suppliers of fresh fish in a region, is my position threatened more by a man opening up a burger joint or some fishmonger who moves to town and doesn't seem to be getting his fish from me?

This is how faiths which establish and maintain hegemony with the support of the state's monopoly on the lawful use of force evolve. A dictatorial force declares their nation to be of a kind of faith which becomes the official faith. Then come the official interpretation of the faith which becomes the one true interpretation. This in turn becomes the only allowable interpretation and those who seek to usurp the right to interpret from those in power are seen and treated as one of the most imminent kinds of threat to the established brand.

In Iran, legally resident and practicing but non-evangelizing Christians could well be considered second class citizens. Compared to them those who practice Sufi Islam have it one notch worse - they're not even allowed to practice their faith. So while a Christian who does not evangelize may find some degree of "tolerance at a distance" as well as mistreatment varying from place to place and with the different social strata, a "counterfeit" of the "true" faith demands far more active and regimented persecution.
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