Of Mordecai, Bonhoeffer, and Such

 

Conservative news outlets and activist groups have been heralding the announcement by Franklin Graham that he will be visiting all fifty States and urging the Christians of the Unites States to awaken to the surge of persecution against the Christian faith both in the citizenry and the government. A worthy quest to be sure, but, given the spotty at best history of the Christian Church in speaking out against persecution, one would wonder if Reverend Graham’s zeal will succumb to the apathy so prevalent in the Christian Church of the United States. It is amazing or perhaps appalling that the people of this Nation, who have been given so much more Freedom, more than any other peoples throughout history, Freedoms given to us for their preservation, and yet we have done so little to protect these Freedoms.

Within it’s storied past, the Judeo-Christian history holds examples to each side of the pendulum of strength as the beasts of repression and oppression have raised their ugly heads in a cyclical pattern to which no civilization seems immune. The Biblical story of Mordecai holds lessons for all of us who now face the rising tide of hatred in this Country. The events recounted from the time of the Persian Empire are the basis for the Feast of Purim that our Jewish friends celebrate to this day.

After his niece, through a series of events, had been chosen to be Queen of Persia, Mordecai made a habit of sitting outside the gate of the palace. He did so in hopes to hear news from the palace so he could look out for his beloved niece. There was resentment in Persia against the Jewish people and because of this Mordecai had advised Esther to keep her lineage a secret.

The King’s second in command was a man named Haman who despised the Jewish people and especially Mordecai. All the people were supposed to bow when Haman walked by, including the Jews. The Jews must have obeyed because Haman’s anger was singular against Mordecai when he refused to bow. It was a violation of the Jewish faith to bow to anything but God. So Mordecai offended Haman and the statutes of the day to stay true to his faith.

Haman manipulated the King and influenced him to sign a law that designated a certain day for all Jews to be killed by the citizens of Persia. It’s interesting that, for all the compromising done by others in bowing to Haman, it did not save them from the new law. It was all the Jews they wanted not just Mordecai. Mordecai told the Queen as much when he informed her of the plot. Even her station would not protect her. She was hated because of her faith.

We all know the story. Queen Esther exposed the plot to her husband. The Laws of the Medes and the Persians bound the King and he could not revoke the law, but he did write another law giving the Jews the right to a defense. Thus, the Hebrew people were saved again from destruction because someone was willing to speak up in the courts of the King.

Fast forward to Germany pre-World War II. The ominous shadow of fascism was over the land. Dietrich Bonhoeffer warned the Christian Church of the dangers of the Third Reich. Bonhoffer admonished the Church that their silence would not save them and that it was immoral. He was ignored.

Bonhoeffer was executed for his faith and his words against the Third Reich. Too late the Church saw their folly and what followed is one of the darkest moments in world history. Those Christians who sought to help the Jewish people were executed right along with them. The others were cowed into silence.

And now today, again, we are being told to be silent and leave our faith at home. In the public place, it is now demanded that we bow to the government and set our beliefs aside or face retribution from our government. To all my fellow Christians, I say this: Silence will not separate you from the persecution that’s on the horizon. The hatred is for all Christians. Not just the vocal ones.

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