In the United Kingdom, Premier Christian Communications released the results of a survey of 12,000 Christians that sought to assay the level of anti-Christian prejudice and discrimination. The survey found:
93% of respondents believe Christianity is being marginalized;
80% believe that Christianity is not accorded the same level of respect as other religions;
67% say they are not able to express themselves openly about their faith at work;
50% say they have been subjected to anti-Christian prejudice;
26% say that being open about their faith will mean persecution.
Tim Dieppe of the UK’s Public Policy at Christian Concern said that the results of the survey indicate the experience of Christians in recent years, including the LGBTQ agenda, aggressive atheism, as well as Islamic and academic intimidation. "People try and say that our cases are the exception and extraordinary cases,” Dieppe said, adding that the survey by PCC is but the “tip of the iceberg” of what he called a “ground swell” of feeling and experience of “prejudice or marginalization.”
There has also been an uptick in anti-Semitism in the UK.
Care CEO Nola Leach, whose Christian organization lobbies politicians, is very concerned that Christians’ viewpoints are being silenced. She said that the survey foretells “worrying times.”
The head of PCC, Peter Kerridge, said that the UK is anything but the model of tolerance when it comes to Christianity. In the report, he wrote: "It's clear that we are not the liberal accepting society we think we are if we don't tolerate and accept everyone, including Christians.” Kerridge added, "People of faith, from all religions should be allowed to live and work in freedom. They should be encouraged to hold to their faith not just in their homes and churches, mosques, synagogues and temples, but also in their jobs and hobbies and in the public square. This survey clearly indicates how it feels to be an ordinary Christian today. I suspect that other faith groups may have similar stories to tell."
Jesus Christ: Extremist
Another poll, carried out by ComRes for the Evangelical Alliance of the UK, found that Christians are increasingly concerned about government plans to crack down on “non-violent extremism.” This comes as the poll found that nearly a third of those polled said Jesus Christ was an “extremist.” The poll also found that nearly half of the respondents believed that it was extremism to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman only.
Speaking for the Evangelical Alliance, Dr. David Landrum said: “The language of extremism is a recipe for chaos and division.” The Evangelical Alliance represents approximately 2 million Evangelical Christians in the UK.
“This poll shows the scale of moral confusion in our society with the public having no way of deciding whether something is extreme or not. It also shows the division that might ensue if the Government persists in trying to use extremism as a way of regulating peaceful ideas in society. Detached from terrorism and incitement to violence, extremism does not work as a litmus test for judging peaceful beliefs and opinions.”
Landrum said, finally, “Indeed, the Government has tried and failed over the last two years to define extremism with any precision and this poll shows that the public share that confusion.”
The survey was based on a pool of 2,004 respondents. Of these, 28 percent considered Jesus Christ to be an extremist. Of those polled, 13 percent thought that the Dalai Lama could be considered an extremist, 20 per cent said Mahatma Gandhi could be considered an extremist, while 25 per cent thought that Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela could be considered extremists. A total of 41 per cent of those polled said that people who believed in traditional marriage were extremists.
The poll found that 48 percent responded that they do not think the abolition of the monarchy was extreme, while the same proportion said it was not extreme to give animals the same rights as human beings.
The survey comes just weeks after the British government’s announcement of a Commission for Countering Extremism not only to combat Islamic ideology, but also “to support the Government in stamping out extremist ideology in all its forms, both across society and on the internet, so it is denied a safe space to spread.”.
The various Christian churches have been highly skeptical about the strategy to combat the spread of ideas considered as extremist given the subjective and changing nature of how extremism can be defined. Some complain that government measures to combat radical Islam are a mere pretext for interfering in church schools and thus introduce secularist ideology. They fear that new government powers may be misused against peaceful organizations that do not share the values of the secular state.
Dr, Landrum said: “The Government has failed to define extremism, and the public is clearly divided about which ideas are extremist. It therefore seems unlikely that a newly-established quango [British usage for quasi-autonomous non-governmental organization], such as an extremism commission, will solve such problems. It is not wise to foster a society where volatile public opinion can be used to determine what might be extreme or acceptable views.”
As goes the UK, so goes the US
The United States is not immune to anti-Christian incidents, which also seek to squelch free speech and freedom of conscience.
The Catholic League website, for example, has recorded multiple examples of anti-Catholic incidents, listing offenses stemming from activists, artists, as well as businesses, government, employers, educational institutions, and the media. According to Bill Donohue of the Catholic League, “We have noted that the biggest spike in bigotry in recent years has emanated from government; it is also the most problematic venue of anti-Catholicism.”
Donohue also noted that Evangelical Christians has seen an uptick in bigotry. The Family Research Council recently published "Hostility to Religion: The Growing Threat to Religious Liberty in the United States." It noted a 76 percent increase in attacks on religious liberty over the past three years. Also this year, First Liberty published "Undeniable: The Survey of Hostility to Religion in America," finding that there was a 133 percent increase in attacks on religious liberty over the past five years.
In February, the Public Religion Research Institute did a survey of white evangelicals and found that they believe they face more discrimination than Muslims.
Asserting that there is no tolerance for practicing Christians in the UK and the US, Donohue wrote: “Much of the animus has to do with Christian sexual ethics: Christianity values restraint and the dominant culture in both nations values the abandonment of it.” He noted, however, that Muslims appear to be more in agreement with practicing Christians on sexual issues than they are with militant secularists. “Yet in elite circles, the British and American high priests of tolerance are more accepting of Muslims than Christians. How can this be?”
The Secularist/Islamist Axis
Donohue wrote: “For one, Muslims are feared and Christians are not. Two, due to the corrupting influence of multiculturalism, elites in the West are more likely to embrace outsiders than they are their own, and this is especially true of practicing Christians. Three, those on the Left welcome everyone who seeks to undermine the basis of Western Civilization, namely the Judeo-Christian ethos. It's a sick admixture of these three factors.”
Donohue urged Christians to work together to fight anti-Christian bigotry. “The alliances they forge must not be sidetracked by bigots, or by arrogant and boneheaded leaders in their own ranks who wish to crush such coalitions.”