Half of white, evangelical Protestants believe they receive a great deal of discrimination, while only 31 percent of the general public feels the same, according to the Sept. 22 study.
Any objective look at the reality shows this is nonsense. Around 83 percent of the country is Christian, according to a July 18 ABC News poll. Every day in this country, Christians practice their religion freely.
There is no denial of basic services to Christians. We do not jail, torture or murder Christians for practicing their religion.
It is possible one might find an isolated case in which a Christian has been discriminated against, but the idea of widespread Christian persecution has no basis.
What underpins this skewed perception of reality has roots in the social changes that have taken place over the past few decades and in basic elements of Christianity.
For a long time in this country, Christians pretty much got their way in public life. The questions of sexual freedom, gay rights, abortion, the separation of church and state and the broader religious discourse were squarely on the side of conservative Christians.
Now, Christianity has lost the sanctity it once had. Social attitudes on those issues have shifted from the old way of thinking and there is a greater tolerance for criticism of religion.
Particularly, conservative Christians, view these changes as an assault on their religious views. They conflate not getting one’s way with being discriminated against or persecuted.
Having your religion mocked or criticized public is not persecution. It is a necessary part of a free society of individuals who get to choose what they believe.
A second, but no less important, dimension to this problem is the role of persecution in Christian history.
Throughout history, Christians have been genuinely persecuted for their beliefs. Many still are today in places around the world.
The central story in Christianity is that of Christ’s unjust suffering, and believers are told to model themselves after Christ.
In the New Testament, there are numerous verses associated with suffering for the cause, and the expectation Christians must suffer for that cause.
“Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution,” proclaims 2 Timothy 3:12 of the King James Version of the Bible.
For Christians living safely in America who have encountered these messages all their lives, there is some idea that suffering for the cause is part of being Christian.
The attitudes many Christians hold are important for the larger question of religion in America.
For some, particularly young people and those not associated with religions, this false sense of victimization can easily be interpreted as out of touch with reality and pathetic. It is.
If Christians at large want to engage people, they have to find a way of dealing with these peculiar attitudes.
Griffin, a junior journalism major from Madison, is an opinion writer.