by Ed Stetzer, USA Today:
I'm not one who believes Christians in America are persecuted.
I agree with former Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams that Christians in the West who feel they are persecuted need to "grow up" and not claim persecution when they are simply made "mildly uncomfortable." The alleged "War on Christmas" hasn't cost any lives.
Yet, there is in fact a disturbing pattern to shootings in Fort Worth, Texas, New Life Church in Colorado Springs, and in Charleston. Though Charleston was clearly connected to race, in all cases, Christians were targeted. We already have a research database for church shootings.
If this report turns out to be wrong, as others have, the tragedy will remain, as will this reality: people of faith, in some cases Christians, have been targeted in mass shootings.
I understand the United States' cultural tension in which Christian-held values do not always align with current popular opinion. But the truth is, the irreligious in our culture must de-escalate hateful rhetoric toward Christians, no matter how vehement the disagreements between us.
We are quick to point out the deadly consequences of enraged right-wingers (think Tucson) and the emotional terrorism of organizations like the Westboro protest cult. Yet, Christians seem to be one of the few groups you can denigrate with impunity, regardless of how the unbalanced in the population are influenced-- dare we say radicalized-- by such rhetoric.
If Christians are labeled as "haters" simply because they hold views derived from their Scriptures, the elevated rhetoric can, and indeed does lead to violent actions. It is inevitable.
I am not saying we don't criticize, but we must not demonize. When we demonize others-- Christians, Muslims, gays, African-Americans or whomever-- we give mentally unstable or hate-filled people additional justification to kill. Such actions are not our fault. But, everyone should remember the influence our words can have.
The entire article can be read here.