Tacitus wrote: “In their very deaths they were made the subjects of sport: for they were covered with the hides of wild beasts, and worried to death by dogs, or nailed to crosses, or set fire to, and when the day waned, burned to serve for the evening lights.”
The prior quote is one that speaks about persecution. More specifically, the quote speaks about the persecution of Christians during the time of the Roman Empire, under the rule of Nero. Christians are not unfamiliar with persecution, but living in an advanced country, and in a modern time, we often forget just how vile humanity can be.
With this laid back attitude, when we see stories of American Christians being pressured and attacked, we tend to dismiss them as one-off problems. We disregard these things as rare. That’s a dangerous mistake.
Kenneth Reyes, a Christian chaplain in the military, is being persecuted for speaking about Christianity. The MRFF (Military Religious Freedom Foundation) has descended upon Reyes for an article he wrote in which he quoted a phrase made famous by President Eisenhower. The quote is as follows: “I am delighted that our veterans are sponsoring a movement to increase our awareness of God in our daily lives. In battle, they learned a great truth that there are no atheists in the foxholes.“
Reyes (a Christian chaplain, mind you) was simply doing his job. Through words and a famous reference, he was conveying his understanding of Christ’s place in military life. As a chaplain, it is his duty to speak of Christ and God.
According to Ken Klukowski: “As reported by Fox News’s Todd Starnes, when Reyes referenced this famous line in his essay, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) contacted the base commander, Col. Brian Duffy, demanding he take action on Reyes’s ‘anti-secular diatribe.’ MRFF’s letter says that by Reyes’s ‘use of the bigoted, religious supremacist phrase, ‘no atheists in foxholes,’ he defiles the dignity of service members.’ They accuse him of violating military regulations.”
Further, the MRFF wants Reyes to be punished: “Faith based hate, is hate all the same…Lt. Col. Reyes must be appropriately punished.”
For speaking of Christ, Reyes must be punished. For invoking a famous quote, he must be punished. What punishment is required? Who gets to decide the punishment? Who gets to dole it out? These are all questions that the MRFF would prefer us not to ask, because they want to hold all the cards. They want everyone to believe that they are an oppressed minority, who is maligned and pushed aside. This is how persecution begins. And once this punishment is doled out (violating Reyes’ First Amendment rights), where do we go from there? How expansive will this persecution become? Once a point of origin has been established, how quickly will the contagion spread? We have no idea.
Persecution begins in small places: in courthouse rulings, and in military hearings. Persecution doesn’t stride about like a monster, it creeps under doors and through cracks, like oil. Persecution is insidious. This seemingly small case involving a military chaplain points to something much bigger. It points to a growing, deeply rooted anger toward Christianity.
We need to be on the lookout for stories like this. Persecution of religion is the first step toward tyranny, and a complete abandonment of democracy. This resentment will only continue to grow and develop. When it reaches its peak, it will no longer need to sneak about, but it will then stride about the earth like a colossus. Once that happens, we can do nothing to stop it.
Protect freedom of religion. Protect democracy. Cry out against tyranny.