“Discernment is not simply telling the difference between what is right and wrong; rather, it is telling the difference between right and almost right." ~ C H Spurgeon
And end on a more somber note. I often tell myself, to ensure that I maintain a proper perspective, that I really have it good, here in America. I have never been at want for food, clothes, a place to live or enough money--thanks to my hardworking parents--to keep me in school until I've seen it finished. And as a Christian, I've never faced true persecution. Opposition, maybe. But I have lived my whole life without being treated unjustly by society-at-large, or someone in a position of great authority, because of my Christian faith.
That's why the email I received from a faculty member at my university made me pause and consider that maybe, in a small sense, I'd just gotten a tiny taste of what persecution is like. I say tiny, because I still have freedom of movement, freedom of speech, freedom to engage in the economy (you don't have that if you're a Christian Dhimmi, or second-class citizen, in an Islamic country), and I don't fear for my life, like they do in Nigeria, for example.
It's weird, when you realize that you just got treated with disregard simply because of your beliefs. At least the first time it happens. You know to expect it, but it's strange nonetheless -- there's just something about it that feels like it isn't a "normal" sort of dislike...which I would of course chalk up to the spiritual nature of the war we're fighting.
I won't say what university, or what State I'm in, but I live in the region that I would consider the Mid-Atlantic Region of the United States. My university has an online discussion-forum where students can debate things if they wish. It is non-anonymous--our names are attached to our posts. I was the only outspoken Christian, who consistently used Biblical arguments and logical reasoning to justify my positions on various political issues that would be brought up. I never considered -- and here I was naive to not do so -- that some students would seek to go after me personally in order to intimidate me out of sharing my beliefs. Well, they don't know me very well. I don't fear man. But what I didn't realize was that my enemies (it's fair to call them that) were engaging in a rumor campaign to poison public opinion against me. It sounds extreme, and a bit ridiculous -- but sinful men will stop at no lengths to justify their rebellion against their Creator, and as a consequence, they will stop at no length to attack that which reminds them that God is in authority over them. Namely, you. There's nothing they won't do to shut you up. Presently they will use intimidation and seek to use the justice system or public opinion to silence you; but if they had the motive and opportunity, they would gladly kill you for your witness. I don't know how long that day is from today, here in America. I won't speculate. But I will say that the hatred I've seen in college students toward God and toward those that preach Christ causes me to be utterly convinced that, given the right cultural climate, the God-haters will easily escalate angry words into murder. Christ said that he who hates his brother is a murderer. I believe it. Those who hate you secretly want you dead. All that prevents that from being a reality is the restraining ministry of the Holy Spirit that holds them back from acting on their sinful desires.
Okay, on to the conclusion of the story. I went to a professor that I had had, and asked him for a letter of recommendation so that I could apply to internships (which required you to turn in two recommendations for your application to be considered). He agreed, at first. Then he sent me an email saying that he had mentioned my name to someone else, and they had told him I'd said "inflammatory" things on the university discussion site. I explained myself to him in a second email. Here is an excerpt of his response:
Much more significantly my unenthusiastic recommendation will be more readily apparent to any reader for its sterility because they will read between the lines. I, and most recommenders, would strive to make supporting comments that the student would make a welcome addition to any lab and that their career in science is promising. I can't offer that for you. Homophobes and proselytes are not welcome in any lab, or any workplace that I know of, and strict believers in the bible are anti-science.
"The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also." -Mark Twain
I can write a recommendation letter, Hakam, but it's probably not one that would advance your chances. Perhaps your true vocation is in the clergy or as a missionary? You have faith ... that's great for you. But for those of us in science faith is not enough.
Are the universities tolerant of Christianity? This professor wasn't. A word of advice to Christian parents; think carefully about whether you send your child to a public university. If they go, they'll need to be more skilled than I was at not stirring up the hornets' nest. I would further recommend this online book, which gives advice for how to 'survive' college as a Christian: Fish Out of Water
This email is very real. It reveals the very real animosity that exists toward Christians in the scientific fields at public research universities in the United States.
This is far from open persecution. But it's a part of the cultural attitude that will eventually rationalize the "implementation" of oppressive legal restrictions on Christians unless a miraculous revival were to take place and turn back this country from the brink.
Not to sow fear or anything.
~ Rak Chazak