The Catholic News Agency reports that Cardinal Bertone, the Vatican’s top diplomat, stated today, “It is well-documented that Christians are the most discriminated and persecuted religious group.” This was part of his report to a summit of international leaders meeting in Kazakhstan. He continued, “Worldwide more than 200 million Christians ‘live in difficult conditions’ because of legal and cultural restrictions on worship and religious freedom.”
In this time of difficulties in the United States between groups of believers and non-believers, political groups vilifying Christians as well as those who hide behind their Christianity, it is hard to fathom the levels of persecution in other parts of the world. Here, we struggle to hold on to our faith without upsetting the apple cart of political correctness. Some groups do promote their agenda to unsuspecting Christians, and twist their logic to build a culture of exclusion. But the opposite is also true. Many groups point their collective finger at all Christians, saying that they have nothing but hate in their hearts for those who fall outside of the moral code they embrace.
It’s beginning to seem to me that we need to really practice that Christian custom of discernment. As Christians it is our duty to use discernment to allow the Holy Spirit to guide our actions, words, and choices. In allowing the Holy Spirit to guide us, we can make wise choices in how to spend our time, whether it’s in the friends we keep or in the organizations where we spend our time and money. We are well served to consider in what way the Holy Spirit really is guiding us. Are our choices building up our communities, or are they tearing apart the relationships that Jesus wants us to foster? If we are only building those relationships which are popular, might we deserve the finger of bigotry pointing in our direction?
Keep in mind, too, that self-education is key in determining which way to vote; which organizations to support that promote peace and understanding, not just an agenda; and where you can put your best foot forward to remind others of what Christianity really is. If we are pro-active in our Christian discernment, we may not have to face a future of overt persecution. But if we simply sit back, and vote for popular candidates, we may be opening ourselves to a difficult existence shared by those 200 million other Christians worldwide.