It’s Not Persecution

A very interesting contribution from Robyn J. Whitaker, Bromby Senior Lecturer in Biblical Studies, Trinity College, University of Divinity, to the ongoing debate on whether or not Christians in Australia are being persecuted for, you know, being Christian.

I can’t subscribe to any position that suggests Christian are, largely because it assumes that Christians should have a privileged position in public discourse, that Christians as Christians should be given more authority or power to determine. We don’t have a privileged position, and we should never aim to have a privileged position in the public square. That is not the task of Christianity.

By the same token, Christians do have a place in the public square and have the same right to be able to put forward their position on topics, positions which are based on the Christian faith. To say that Christianity has no place in the public square would be an infringement of the rights of Christians but again it would hardly constitute persecution.

Why do I say that? Whitaker provides the answer:

The rhetoric of persecution evokes a mythology associated with the earliest centuries of Christianity. Christians were initially a minority group in the Roman Empire, where they did encounter sporadic hostilities. Graphic stories survive of the bravery of Christian martyrs who were condemned to be burnt alive, eaten by wild beasts, or face other tortures by the state. Martyrs such as Polycarp and Perpetua were celebrated as heroes of the faith for their courage in the face of savage punishments.

Read the full contribution from Whitaker below.