Real persecution actually exists

It is my hope that the following statement offends just about everyone who regularly reads my blog, because I have something BEYOND that to which we need our attention drawn:

For evangelical Christians and gay rights folks in America, here is the stark truth: none of us know persecution. 

The current broohaha over the Arizona bill concerning businesses and serving gays or not serving gays… nothing. 

I hope I have your attention. I truly hope I have your anger in some way. Because here is the reality:

Beirut (AFP) – A jihadist group in Syria said Wednesday that Christians in the city of Raqa will have to pay taxes and hold religious rituals behind closed doors, under a set of rules.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), listed 12 rules which made up an “agreement” with Christians in the northern city to provide “protection.”

The terms, bearing the stamp of ISIL which controls Raqa, were distributed on jihadist forums.

They include a provision that Christians must pay a “jiziyeh” tax, as imposed in early Islam on non-Muslim subjects.

It said wealthy Christians must pay up the equivalent of 13 grams (half an ounce) of pure gold, that middle-class Christians pay half that sum, while the poor pay a quarter.

The agreement also demands Christians “do not put on display a cross or anything from their book, anywhere on Muslims’ path or markets” and that they should not “use megaphones to make their prayers heard.”

The jihadist group demands that Christians follow “rules imposed by ISIL, such as those relating to modesty in clothing.”

ISIL is rooted in Al-Qaeda in Iraq, which also imposed the jiziyeh tax on Christians after the US-led invasion of 2003.

When there are truly places in this world where real people are being severely limited in their freedoms… and severely isn’t a term I would give as “in the eyes of the beholder”… we in America have issues. 

Gays and evangelicals may now scream arguments about, “Well, if we keep on this road we’re on we’ll be right there.”

I disagree.

There are deep issues we have to face and need to work out. But, we get to work them out. And work them out we should… in a free country.

Call me what you want. Anti-gay. Anti-evangelical. Anti- whatever makes you feel good about not like me. Go ahead.

I am simply pleading for perspective… and prayer. Prayer for people in places like Syria that have no voice in how they are treated. In America, we all have voices… and they are so loud right now we can’t even hear each other.

Today, let us pray. Pray for brothers and sisters in parts of the world that aren’t some “slippery slope.” They are in hell. Cut off. Persecuted. And voiceless.

God help us.