ICC persecution map
Religious persecution has long been a problem, but now we are seeing different forms hitting the West, including the USA.
Here are some excerpts from the beginning of a report by ICC at Persecution.org:
To remember the world’s forgotten martyrs as well as the living victims of persecution, International Christian Concern (ICC) releases this Hall of Shame report that details the world’s worst persecutors and countries that are regressing in religious freedom.
This year, however, we’ve changed the format from our usual structure. Rather than using a straight 1-10 rank – ing of the worst countries, we’ve broken our report into three categories.
The “Worst of the Worst” (North Korea, Iraq and Syria, Nigeria) looks at the most egregious state persecutors.
Our second category, “Core Countries,” contains nations that are less egregious, but are perennial abusers of religious freedom (Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, China, India, and Egypt).
Our third and most exceptional category is “New and Noteworthy.” The persecution in these countries is not anywhere near the same level of persecution as those in the rest of the list, but events in these countries indicate declining religious freedom and are cause for alarm. http://www.persecution.org/persecutionnl/2017-01/ICC%202016%20Hall%20of%20Shame%20Report.pdf
(For an enlarged version of the ICC persecution map, go to the link above.)
The persecution against Catholics, Orthodox, Jews, and Protestants in the Islamic nations has gone up since the so-called 2011 Arab Spring.
But in this post, I want to look more about what has been happening in the USA and what will happen in Europe.
Here is much of what the ICC report says about the USA:
Christians in the US are facing constant attacks in the media, where they are portrayed as bigoted, racist, sexist, and close- minded. The characterization in the media may be translating into direct attacks as well. The First Liberty Institute, the largest legal organization in the US dedicated exclusively to protecting religious freedom, documents such actions and reports that attacks on religion doubled between 2012 and 2015.
More importantly, Christians and all religious people are being marginalized through the law.
From the case of a Christian football coach suspended for praying at the 50-yard line, to Christian business owners forced to pay a $135,000 fine for declining to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding, the number of troubling cases directed towards Christians has exploded.
In 2011, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship lost their official recognition as a student organization in all of their respective chapters across 23 California public colleges. This occurred because the Christian organization required their respective leaders to uphold a doctrinal statement of Biblical principles, which allegedly conflicted with California State universities’ policies. After four years of embattled negotiations, InterVarsity regained their official recognition in June 2015.
In 2014, Eric Walsh was terminated one week after being hired by the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH). The basis of termination was alleged undisclosed income from prior employment in California. However, the Georgia DPH knew that Walsh was a Christian preacher outside of work and went to great lengths to review and investigate the content of his sermons posted on YouTube. Georgia officials have even requested copies of Walsh’s sermons, despite prior statements that the termination had nothing to do with his religious views or affiliations. Walsh is currently suing the Georgia DPH for wrongful termination and religious discrimination.
The rise of these cases stems partly from a broad cultural shift towards secularism. The Pew Foundation found that those identifying as non-religious in the US rose by seven percent, to 23 percent of the total US adult population within just seven years (2007 to 2014).
Anti-Christian entities have been able to leverage the growing secularization of society and culture to their advantage, utilizing the courts as a preferred venue to gradually marginalize and silence Christians. Using the cudgel of “equality,” secular forces in and out of the courts have worked to create a body of law built from one bad precedent after another. Claims of intolerance and inequality are used to fundamentally distort the clear intent of the First Amendment.
The Founders carefully and deliberately placed religious freedom as the first liberty because it encompasses several fundamental rights including thought, speech, expression, and assembly. The First Amendment explicitly grants freedom of religion, not freedom from religion. The essential aim is to protect the right of citizens to practice religion in the public square.
Decades of accumulated poor judicial decisions and precedents have twisted the First Amendment so that the courts, in defiance of the Founders, are pushing religion out of the public square, and into the small space of private expression. In essence, the courts are deciding that you only have full religious freedom and expression in the church and your home. In the public domain, your religious views and thoughts must be restrained and controlled.
This trend is extremely worrying in the country that has long held the ideal of religious liberty.
While there is no comparison between the life of a Christian in the US with persecuted believers overseas, ICC sees these worrying trends as an alarming indication of a decline in religious liberty in the United States. http://www.persecution.org/persecutionnl/2017-01/ICC%202016%20Hall%20of%20Shame%20Report.pdf
In many ways, it is worse in Canada than the USA, but I did not see anything about that nation in the ICC report.
Sadly, as the USA turns more and more away from the Bible, it is becoming clearer to many that its first amendment is not protecting religious speech and practices like it once did. Instead of being a defender of actual religious freedom, the USA has more acted as a suppressor. Combine this with a mainly irreligious mainstream media, including those who run places like Google and Facebook, and we are seeing more and more restrictions of religious speech by those who profess to believe the Bible.
It is my view that the perception of persecution and loss of first amendment rights was a major reason so many evangelicals in the USA voted for Donald Trump. It is not that most saw him as the answer, but that most saw Hillary Clinton as one who took a different view.
Notice what Hillary Clinton said in a speech shortly after she announced that she would run for the presidency:
Hillary Clinton: Religious Beliefs Must Be Changed to Achieve Social Justice
April 24, 2015
In a fiery speech Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton argues that deep seated religious beliefs must be changed so that everyone can enjoy full participation in every aspect of society.
Clinton, speaking in Manhattan on Thursday at the sixth annual Women in The World Summit, declared that “deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases” must be changed both in the U.S. and around the world in order to achieve social justice.
Clinton, after discussing the pressing social justice issues of domestic violence and women’s reproductive health, said:
Laws have to be backed up with resources and political will. And deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed.
As I have said and as I believe, the advancement of the full participation of women and girls in every aspect of their societies is the great unfinished business of the 21st century and not just for women but for everyone — and not just in far away countries but right here in the United States.
Hillary Clinton told all who would listen that she wanted religious views changed so that people will embrace abortion, homosexuality, and other immoral positions that Christians should condemn. She won the popular vote.
It remains to be seen what Donald Trump may do along the lines of religious liberty–the cause of which he has claimed he will champion. But as he also wants to champion certain LGBTQ and greed issues, he has credibility issues.
But what about European persecution?
Well, beyond the terrorist attacks that are usually tied to Muslims against non-Muslims we have seen in Europe, the Bible tells of a persecuting state power called the Beast that will arise in Europe.
In the past, in Europe and/or the Middle East (for some details, see Persecutions by Church and State), true Christians were persecuted because they:
- Kept Passover on the 14th
- Refused to eat unclean meat
- Would work on Sunday
- Had false accusations railed against them
- Were binitarian
- Kept the Sabbath
- Kept the Fall Holy Days
- Were not trinitarian
- Taught that the pope was an Antichrist and precursor of the final Antichrist
- Having and teaching from the Bible
- Rejected papal authority
- Did not accept idols
- Had different teachings than the Church of Rome
- Had writings Rome did not like
- Rejected Roman sacraments
- Objected to the dress of the Roman ministry
- Considered Rome to be the prophesied Babylon
- Taught that in the time of the final Antichrist that some would fall away
- Had practices that Rome considered Jewish
- Refused to baptize infants
- Did not participate in carnal warfare
- Teaching the millennium
- Taught the Kingdom of God
- Baptized adults
These persecutions sometimes included economic problems (cf. Revelation 13:16-17), verbal harrassment, torture, and/or threat of death, often causing them to flee. The same things face Christians in this 21st century.
More persecution is coming–and some of those will be the very reasons.
20 If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also (John 15:20).
Sadly, even many of those who claim to be Christian do not keep Jesus’ word, have persecuted in the past, and will persecute in the future.
Some of the persecution may come from hidden or secret sources, such as governmental surveillance. Notice God’s people are to pray for protection from that:
2 Hide me from the secret plots of the wicked,
From the rebellion of the workers of iniquity,
3 Who sharpen their tongue like a sword,
And bend their bows to shoot their arrows — bitter words,
4 That they may shoot in secret at the blameless;
Suddenly they shoot at him and do not fear. (Psalms 64:2-4)
The Book of Daniel shows a two-part persecution coming from a European leader (I added the a and b below for emphasis):
25 a He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, Shall persecute the saints of the Most High, And shall intend to change times and law. b Then the saints shall be given into his hand For a time and times and half a time. (Daniel 7:25)
First of all (a), he shall persecute certain of the saints, which is consistent with what Jesus said was coming:
9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. 10 And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. 11 Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. 12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:9-14)
Much of the above will affect the Philadelphian Christians (cf. Revelation 12:13), but they will later be protected (Revelation 3:8-10) in the wilderness for a time, times, and half a time (Revelation 12:14-16; see also There is a Place of Safety for the Philadelphians. Why it May Be Petra). Part of why they will be persecuted is for proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and probably also for identifying the coming King of the North, who will not wish to be identified that way. This will likely result in internet and other restrictions on getting the truth of God out to the world (cf. Amos 8:11-12).
Note that the saints will be persecuted before they are “given into his hand”; perhaps that particular persecution means all of God’s people, or more likely at least many of the Philadelphians, will be persecuted before the period “time and times and half a time” begins (Daniel 7:25a ). Then the Philadelphians will flee and escape the sword:
50 0 You who have escaped the sword,
Get away! Do not stand still!
Remember the Lord afar off,
And let Jerusalem come to your mind. (Jeremiah 51:50)
So, the above talks about God’s people who escape (see also There is a Place of Safety for the Philadelphians. Why it May Be Petra).
Getting back to Daniel, the expressions “completely shattered” and “Then the saints shall be given into his hand” seem to show that most of the saints will be in the tribulation (Daniel 7:25b). We know this cannot mean all because the book of Revelation says the Philadelphians will be kept from the hour of trial (Revelation 3:10)–protected “from the presence of the serpent” (cf. Revelation 12:14). God will in some way separate Christians then living when these terrible calamities finally come to be. The Philadelphia Christians will be protected from the Tribulation–most of the rest of the real Christians, however, will not be! (Revelation 3:16).
Daniel 7:25 a, which are consistent with the persecutions in Daniel 11:28-35, are a factor in the opening of the fifth seal in Revelation, which is the start of the Great Tribulation:
9 When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. 10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” 11 Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed. (Revelation 6:9-11)
Notice that this is consistent with Daniel 7:25 a and b. There were those who were martyred/persecuted (a) then there were to be more who were to be martyred/persecuted (b).
Second of all (Daniel 7:25 b), the remaining saints will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time. This is the portion of the COG, the non-Philadelphians, who are NOT protested in the wilderness as Revelation 12:17 shows this separation:
17 And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. (Revelation 12:17)
There are persecutions just before the Great Tribulation starts per Daniel 7:25a, 11:28-35; Revelation 12:13, and then during the time of the Great Tribulation per Daniel 7:25b, Revelation 12:17; 14:12-13.
Although many in the Church of God have experienced economic and social persecution in their walk with Christ, future severe persecution, beginning first with the Philadelphia remnant of Christians, is expected, it is then followed by persecution on all Christians once the Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:21) begins.
While many like to focus on the idea that the Philadelphians will flee to a place of protection, it needs to be understood that there will apparently be a time of severe persecution just prior to the fleeing and the start of the Great Tribulation. Specifically, for another example, evangelist Richard Ames has taught that the 45 day period (the 1335-1290 days) begins intense persecution against the true Philadelphian Church, and this will fulfill Matthew 24:9 (Ames R. Welcome the King, Feast of Trumpets sermon for 9/13/07).
It seems that part of this persecuting time, the one mainly involving the Philadelphians, is also discussed in Daniel 11:32-36 (information of the persecution just prior to Daniel 11:31 can be found in the article Who is the King of the North?):
28 While returning to his land with great riches, his heart shall be moved against the holy covenant; so he shall do damage and return to his own land…32 Those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flattery; but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits. And those of the people who understand shall instruct many; yet for many days they shall fall by sword and flame, by captivity and plundering. Now when they fall, they shall be aided with a little help; but many shall join with them by intrigue. And some of those of understanding shall fall, to refine them, purify them, and make them white, until the time of the end; because it is still for the appointed time (Daniel 11:28, 32-35).
The persecutions above are by one called the King of the North (Daniel 11:40; 7:25a)–the King of the North will NOT like the message that the Philadelphians are proclaiming at least of part of which will likely be the Continuing Church of God identifying him to the world as the prophesied King of the North. While it is apparently the Philadelphia Christians that are targeted for this particular persecution, it is likely that some Laodicean and other Christians will be affected at least to some degree. The Laodiceans will mainly misunderstand what is happening and not realize that their persecution is coming! This is also consistent with the persecution, accomplishments, and problems in Matthew 24:9-20 that will mainly affect the Philadelphians, but will lead to problems then for the Laodiceans in Matthew 24:21-22.
Not worshipping the Beast will be a cause of persecution. But notice that the persecution is not limited to true Christians (saints) as any who do not worship the beast will not be able to buy or sell and this final hour of trial comes to all except the Philadelphians:
Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon. And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived. He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed. He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name (Revelation 13:11-17).
In the future, according to Catholic teachings (most of which come from Europe and the Middle East), true Christians also will be persecuted for:
- Not accepting non-biblical teachings about Mary
- Not accepting the Great Monarch (Beast, King of the North)
- Teaching that the Kingdom of God will come soon
- Not wearing crosses
- Keeping the biblical Sabbath in accordance with the commandments
- Possessing/advocating writings that disagree with the Church of Rome
- Teaching after the Great Tribulation begins that Jesus will return within a few years
Christians have been persecuted for holding doctrines that we in the Continuing Church of God hold and are clearly expected to be persecuted in the future for holding Continuing Church of God doctrines.
Persecution is a fact of history. It has happened before and we should be prepared for the fact that it will happen again. And during the time of the final persecutions, the Bible records:
12 Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus (Revelation 14:12).
Thus, though the Philadelphian Christians will be subject to intense persecution first, even the Laodiceans (The Laodicean Church Era) and other Christians will receive some praise if they endure the persecutions that will then come during the time of “the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world” (Revelation 3:10).
The Bible does show that the persecutors and their supporters will be punished in the end:
1 Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, “Go and pour out the bowls of the wrath of God on the earth.”
2 So the first went and poured out his bowl upon the earth, and a foul and loathsome sore came upon the men who had the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. (Revelation 16:1-2)
24 “And I will repay Babylon
And all the inhabitants of Chaldea
For all the evil they have done
In Zion in your sight,” says the Lord. (Jeremiah 51:20)
19 And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. 20 Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. 21 And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh. (Revelation 19:19-21)
God and His people will win out in the end. Jesus taught that persecutions would come, but He also had it recorded that ultimately the persecutors will lose.
Some items of possibly related interest may include:
Persecutions by Church and State This article documents some that have occurred against those associated with the COGs and some prophesied to occur. Will those with the cross be the persecutors or the persecuted–this article has the shocking answer. There is also a YouTube video sermon you can watch: The Coming Persecution of the Church. Here is information in the Spanish language: Persecuciones de la Iglesia y el Estado.
Christian Repentance Do you know what repentance is? Is it really necessary for salvation? A related sermon is also available titled: Real Christian Repentance.
There is a Place of Safety for the Philadelphians. Why it May Be Petra This article discusses a biblical ‘place of safety’ and includes quotes from the Bible and Herbert W. Armstrong on this subject–thus, there is a biblically supported alternative to the rapture theory. There is also a video on the subject: Might Petra be the Place of Safety? Here is something related in the Spanish language: Hay un lugar de seguridad para los Filadelfinos. ¿Puede ser Petra?
The Gospel of the Kingdom of God This free online pdf booklet has answers many questions people have about the Gospel of the Kingdom of God and explains why it is the solution to the issues the world is facing. Here are links to three related sermons: The World’s False Gospel, The Gospel of the Kingdom: From the New and Old Testaments, and The Kingdom of God is the Solution.
Who is the King of the North? Is there one? Do biblical and Roman Catholic prophecies for the Great Monarch point to the same leader? Should he be followed? Who will be the King of the North discussed in Daniel 11? Is a nuclear attack prophesied to happen to the English-speaking peoples of the United States, Great Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand? When do the 1335 days, 1290 days, and 1260 days (the time, times, and half a time) of Daniel 12 begin? When does the Bible show that economic collapse will affect the United States? In the Spanish language check out ¿Quién es el Rey del Norte? Here is a link to a video titled: The Future King of the North.
Two Horned Beast of Revelation and 666 Who is 666? This article explains how the COG views this, and compares this to Ellen White. Here is a link to a prophetic video Six Financial Steps Leading to 666?
The Mark of Antichrist What is the mark of Antichrist? What have various ones claimed? Here is a link to a related sermon What is the ‘Mark of Antichrist’?
Mark of the Beast What is the mark of the Beast? Who is the Beast? What have various ones claimed the mark is? What is the ‘Mark of the Beast’?
Europa, the Beast, and Revelation Where did Europe get its name? What might Europe have to do with the Book of Revelation? What about “the Beast”? Is an emerging European power “the daughter of Babylon”? What is ahead for Europe? Here is a link to a video titled: Can You Prove that the Beast to Come is European?
Canada in Prophecy: What Does Bible Prophecy, Catholic Prophecy, and other Predictions Suggest About the Future of Canada? There are prophecies that suggest involvement with Canada. And many are not positive about its future.
USA in Prophecy: The Strongest Fortresses Can you point to scriptures, like Daniel 11:39, that point to the USA in the 21st century? This article does. A related sermon is titled: Do these 7 prophesies point to the end of the USA?
Preparing for the ‘Short Work’ and The Famine of the Word What is the ‘short work’ of Romans 9:28? Who is preparing for it? Here is a link to a related video sermon titled: The Short Work.
Anglo – America in Prophecy & the Lost Tribes of Israel Are the Americans, Canadians, English, Scottish, Welsh, Australians, Anglo-Saxon (non-Dutch) Southern Africans, and New Zealanders descendants of Joseph? Where are the lost ten-tribes of Israel? Who are the lost tribes of Israel? What will happen to Jerusalem and the Jews in Israel? Will God punish the U.S.A., Canada, United Kingdom, and other Anglo-Saxon nations? Why might God allow them to be punished first? Here is a link to the Spanish version of this article: Anglo-América & las Tribus Perdidas de Israel. Information is also in the YouTube sermons titled Where are the Ten Lost Tribes? Why does it matter? and British are the Covenant People. A short YouTube of prophetic interest may be Barack Obama and the State of the Apocalypse.
Will the Anglo-Saxon Nations be Divided and Have People Taken as Slaves? Will the lands of the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand be divided? What about Jerusalem? What does Bible prophecy teach? Are there non-biblical prophecies that support this idea? Who will divide those lands? Who will end up with the lands and the people? Here is a link to a video titled Will the USA and other Anglo-nations be Divided and Their People Made Slaves? Here is a related item in the Spanish language ¿Serán divididas las naciones anglosajonas?
When Will the Great Tribulation Begin? 2017, 2018, or 2019? Can the Great Tribulation begin today? What happens before the Great Tribulation in the “beginning of sorrows”? What happens in the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord? Is this the time of the Gentiles? When is the earliest that the Great Tribulation can begin? What is the Day of the Lord? Who are the 144,000? Here is a version of the article in the Spanish language: ¿Puede comenzar la Gran Tribulación en 2016 o 2017? ¿Es el Tiempo de los Gentiles? You can also see the English language sermon videos: The Great Tribulation from the Mount of Olives and Can the Great Tribulation begin before 2020? A shorter video is: Will the Great Tribulation Start in 2017?
Donald Trump in Prophecy Prophecy, Donald Trump? Are there prophecies that Donald Trump may fulfill? Are there any prophecies that he has already helped fulfill? Could a Donald Trump presidency be apocalyptic? A related video is titled: 13 Ways President-Elect Trump is Apocalyptic.
Hillary Clinton in Prophecy Prophecy, Hillary Clinton? Are there prophecies that Hillary Clinton may fulfill? Are there any prophecies that she has already helped fulfill? Could Hillary Clinton be apocalyptic? Could Hillary Clinton be the final Antichrist? A video of related interest is titled Hillary Clinton and Bible Prophecy.