Vivian Gilmer of Myrtle Beach, S.C., has returned from her missions trip in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. I’m glad she’s back. She can probably teach us a thing or two about religious persecution. The real kind.
Gilmer broke the law in Dubai by openly distributing Bibles and Christian literature. She and missionary Marie Bush from Waxahachie, Texas, were held for about a week for such a dastardly deed. They’ve since been deported at the request of their sponsors.
Gilmer can tell us about what life looks like in a country where religious freedom isn’t a right, about life in a country where the government has a declared official religion, Islam.
For years, I’ve heard many say Christians in this country are being persecuted for their views because, in some quarters, they’ve been labeled bigots and homophobes. I’ve heard people say banning forced prayers in public schools is a form of persecution.
Prayers never actually left, mind you. Teachers and students, sometimes together, sometimes separately, freely hold prayer meetings in schools throughout our area.
For years, I’ve heard religious persecution – particularly Christian – meant not being represented more thoroughly in popular media. For years, I’ve heard that attempts to take God out of the Pledge of Allegiance or off our currency is more evidence of that persecution. That mantra gained more traction last week after the Supreme Court heard a case to decide if display of the Ten Commandments is an official endorsement of religion.
And for the past couple of months, I’ve heard it was an act of religious persecution that “The Passion of the Christ” wasn’t nominated for a major Academy Award. Never mind that it made hundreds of millions of dollars, received front-page coverage for weeks and was shown to millions throughout the world.
It strikes me as odd that the majority group, when challenged or questioned, finds it necessary to resort to victim posture, when all along it’s been among America’s most protected classes. It strikes me as odd that the majority doesn’t instead simply state its case and get involved in the hard work of convincing everyone that its views are the correct ones.
But if Gilmer, a 72-year-old woman who volunteered to enter the mouth of the lion to do what she’s been called to do, wants to say anything about what religious persecution really looks like, I’ll listen.
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