Forced Conversion of Christians in America

Barb Wire

It was a scene guaranteed to gladden the heart of anyone who endorses the state religion of secular progressivism.

Under the cover of darkness, construction workers removed from the grounds of Oklahoma’s state capitol a granite slab on which the Ten Commandments were engraved. The furtive undertaking, which had the appearance of a mini apocalypse, complete with an eerie darkness and billowing stone dust clouds occurred within a state in which only 5.7% of the population declares itself “non-religious.”

Why were the construction workers toiling away at night?  According to the appropriately bureaucratically named Office of Management and Enterprise Services spokesman John Estus, “We wanted it to be done as quickly and efficiently as possible, and doing it at night gave us the best opportunity to do that. The Highway Patrol was also very concerned that having it in the middle of the day could lead to having demonstrations of some kind.”

Yes, God forbid Christians might actually demonstrate in protest against the desecration of the law they regard as holy — given by God to Moses on Mt. Sinai. God forbid Christians might be as outraged as Muslims would be if the State decided to burn a Koran on the capitol lawn.

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What is really going on when incidents like the above are almost daily occurrences? What is the underlying significance of this and other attempts by modern-day iconoclasts of the Left to eliminate Christian symbols and Christian influence from the public domain?

What is going on is the forced conversion of American Christians to the religion of the State.

Oh, doubtless organizations such as the ACLU, the SPLC, Freedom from Religion and other anti-Christian organizations would not ever admit their relentless anti-Christian campaigns amount to forced conversion.

No, the attackers prefer to speak of their attacks against Christianity in terms of “freedom from religion” — religion being, in their opinion, the opiate of the people and an unnecessary restraint on human freedom. Why, they are only interested in our good and in the good of our children. Freedom from religion and forced conversion to progressivism is a positive good!

Such an attitude actually means, as C.S. Lewis has noted, that such do-gooders are the most dangerous people of all:

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies…[T]hose who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be ‘cured’ against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.”

It’s well to point out to the do-gooders who wish to, oh so kindly but forcibly rescue believers from their religious delusions that there is no such thing as freedom from religion — not even for them. As theologian Paul Tillich pointed out, everyone has something or someone they worship; that is, everyone is religious –and none more deeply religious than radical secular progressive fundamentalists who are as impassioned about converting Christians as ISIS is about killing them.

Actually, the attempts to radically reduce the very large Christian footprint of this nation as well as the very foundation for the Judeo-Christian ethic represented by the Ten Commandments merely mean another religion is being substituted in the place of Christianity — a religion whose gods Christians are increasingly being forced to bow down and worship.

Apparently, we are all to be forced to become progressives.

Yes, mandatory capitulation to another belief system, in this case, the religion of the progressive State, is actually forced conversion from Christianity to progressive secularism. If Christians must bow down to, sacrifice and worship the gods of the State, Christians are no longer Christians. They are converts.

What does forced conversion to the state religion look like?

A program of forced conversion looks very much like what is happening to the churches in California.

According to Becky Yeh, reporting for Live Action News, the California Department of Managed Health Care is mandating that churches subsidize elective abortions by requiring congregations to cover the practice in their health insurance plans. She writes:

“The mandate at its core is a flagrant disregard for the Constitution and for religious freedom. The requirement violates multiple aspects of the First Amendment, as noted by Alliance Defending Freedom, and imposes a substantial burden on Americans who simply wish to exercise their religious convictions. Since the Affordable Care Act requires health care coverage and the state mandate forces abortion coverage in health plans, churches are essentially gridlocked into insuring a practice that violates their most fundamental religious beliefs. The law is the entanglement of government at its worst, and it must be stopped.”

But the demand that churches provide abortion coverage goes far beyond “government entanglement” to government demand that Christians must participate in the progressive sacrament of abortion. As just noted, capitulation to that demand effectively means forced conversion to the current religion of the State. A person or Church simply is no longer Christian after so severe an overriding of their conscience and principles.

If a person or church (or other institutions such as hospitals, universities, schools) persists in resisting the government’s religion by refusing to provide or pay for the sacrifice of unborn children, both will be considered enemies of the State. The situation in California and indeed in America in general, is that Christians who will not obey government-mandated worship are and will be seen as traitors to the State and will be punished accordingly. The government apparatus of bureaucracy will enforce the doctrines of the State as outlined in ObamaCare, which is not so much interested in health as it is the proselytization and conversion of the American public to the sacraments of progressive religion.

The situation in America, as well as in Europe, is increasingly similar to that of Christians living within the Roman Empire. Because followers of Christ refused to make the required sacrifice to Caesar and his gods, they were seen as traitors to and therefore enemies of the state. They were thought of as deserving punishment — even death.

Theologian John MacArthur has explained the New Testament Christian’s life was in complete opposition to the state religion:

“Because the Christians refused to make the required sacrifice offered in worship to the emperor, they were seen as traitors. They also proclaimed the kingdom of God, which caused the Romans to suspect them of plotting to overthrow the government…

“The Romans also persecuted Christians for religious reasons. They allowed their subjects to worship whatever gods they liked, as long as they also worshiped the Roman gods. But Christians preached an exclusive message that there is only one God and only one way of salvation. That, coupled with their evangelistic efforts to win converts from other religions, went against the prevailing atmosphere of religious pluralism.”

History is replete with other examples of the almighty State forcing non-conforming Christians and other people of faith to convert state approved religion. The ratcheting up of persecution and forced conversion of the Jews of Europe is often cited, the prime example being the Jewish conversos of Spain.

Spanish Jews outwardly adopted Christianity after a severe persecution in the late 14th and early 15th centuries.  Persecution was followed by the expulsion of religious Jews. Conversos continued to be viewed as subversives by the Church and state. Conversos were forbidden to hold public or ecclesiastical positions and forbidden to testify against Spanish Christians. Eventually, Spain enacted laws of purity of blood (limpieza de sangre), which discriminated against anyone of Jewish ancestry. Those who know their history know where Spain’s persecutory model was most effectively, devotedly, and tragically followed.

Another very useful example of forced conversion is found in the history of the Huguenots of France. Huguenots, who were followers of the Protestant reformer John Calvin, were subjected to extreme persecution and attempts at forced conversion. For example, children of Huguenots were forcibly removed from their homes and educated to become Roman Catholics. Even when Huguenots who survived the persecutions of the French State under Kings Louis XIV and XV were eventually tolerated by 1787, they still were not allowed to practice religion in public.

History also shows that forcing people to convert to a state religion never works out well for that state. For deeply religious people, core convictions are written so strongly on the heart and soul that they will continue to practice in secret what the State forbids to be proclaimed and practiced publically. Believers will continue to follow the Ten Commandments even if the State were to grind every monument inscribed with them into dust. That is because for believers, those commandments are not merely engraved on stone, but on the heart.

When freedom of religion perishes and Christians and other people of faith and their children are forced to convert to a State religion, especially one that rejects the Ten Commandments, republics disappear and tyrannies are established. That is because, as Alexis de Tocqueville noted, the spirit of religion and freedom are inextricably intertwined. Commenting on the deeply Christian nature of American Society, he wrote:

“In France I had almost always seen the spirit of religion and the spirit of freedom marching in opposite directions. But in America I found they were intimately united and that they reigned in common over the same country.

“I do not know whether all Americans have a sincere faith in their religion — for who can search the human heart? But I am certain that they hold it to be indispensable to the maintenance of republican institutions. This opinion is not peculiar to a class of citizens or a party, but it belongs to the whole nation and to every rank of society.”

Dispense with freedom of religion; accept the State’s power to force its religion on you and your children, and you will get the results you are seeing in America today. You will see the end of the Republic.

But while there is still a window of opportunity, Christians do not have to passively accept exile, be it self-imposed, as it often and lamentably has been in the past, or forcibly imposed on them by a rival State religion that brooks no opposition.

There are still tools available to Christians who wish to preserve their religious freedom, civil disobedience being among them.

Forming strategic alliances among likeminded denominations to resist legal pressure from the State; refusal to pay taxes and fines for not capitulating to State doctrinal demands; resisting pressure to water down Christian doctrines in order to avoid confrontation from the State — all such strategies must be employed.

In the meantime, while current front line battles will continue to occupy much of the energy of the Church, she must also do the hard work of establishing or re-establishing Christian institutions such as schools and universities.

Lastly she must articulate once again a Christian world view encompassing all of society, a project she has largely neglected for so many decades.

She can and must do all these things if she is to remain the Church of Jesus Christ in the fullest sense of that term.

First published at American Thinker

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.

Fay Voshell
Fay Voshell holds a M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary, where she was awarded the Charles Hodge Prize for excellence in systematic theology. She was selected as one of the Delaware GOP's "Winning Women," Class of 2008. Her articles have been published in American Thinker, National Review and RealClearReligion.

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