This week I was interviewed by a local radio station about the place of Easter in the post-Christian West. Specifically I was asked how I felt about schools removing references to Easter in their annual hat parades.
I told them I couldn’t care less.
I honestly don’t care if schools want to run a “happy hat parade” or a “crazy hat day” instead of an Easter hat parade.
I just don’t.
And then I heard about the two suicide bombings at Coptic churches in Alexandria and Tanta and the deaths of 44 worshippers on Palm Sunday at the beginning of Holy Week.
And then I didn’t just not care about Easter hat parades, I was outraged at our insensitivity and complete lack of perspective on these things.
And then I saw this photo (above) of a shocked and grieving nun staring blank-faced into the debris caused by the bombing at St George’s Church in Tanta, and I remembered that there are Christians in the West who actually talk about experiencing “hostility” because of their faith. They say they are being persecuted and marginalized, silenced and ignored.
This Easter, Egyptian Christians will have to clean the blood spatters from the marble pillars of their church and grieve the deaths of worshippers and priests and choristers. And I really hope no one tells them that the biggest challenge facing Christians in the West is the “controversy” about Easter hat parades.
I hope they don’t find out we think we’re persecuted because the state is removing statues of the Ten Commandments from outside our city halls.
I hope they don’t find out our biggest problems include whether Christians can refuse to bake cakes for same-sex weddings.
I hope they don’t discover that in the West, with all the opportunities, freedoms and privilege afforded to the church, we still whine and complain about the occasional loss of that privilege as if it’s the end of the world.
Can we make a pact here in the West to stop referring to our own persecution or hostility or marginalization ever again? Can we reserve those terms exclusively to describe the horrors faced by the Copts in Egypt, the Maronites in Lebanon, the Assyrian church in Iran and Iraq, the Nestorians in Bahrain, and all Christians across the Middle East?
Can we pray for those who suffer because of their allegiance to Christ? Can we mourn for their loss? Can we act in solidarity with them? Can we recite the words of our Lord, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.”
And can we just get some perspective, please?
[photo credit: Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters]
21 thoughts on “They’re dying in Egypt while we’re whining about Easter hat parades”
Thank you so much for these words. They are so needed now. Someday Western Christians may really be persecuted, but today we have enormous liberties. To compare ourselves with those suffering real persecution is shameful.
Well said Mike. I agree with you wholeheartedly.
I love the Coptic Christians, and my heart breaks for them, but I think the culture wars here are real and the hearts and souls here are worth fighting for. I don’t think it is useful to critizise the efforts of other Christians when we all know the real enemy here is Islam. Islamic doctrine is what drove these people to this evil deed, not an the people in Australia wanting their children to know that Easter is Easter and not a crazy chocolate Hat day. I think you have been very misguided in your confusion of two very different issues.
I am not sure that we do all know the real enemy is Islam.
When children in our churches are abused by people who are meant to protect them. When one in three women are raped and abused. When doctrinal correctness is more important that LGBTIQA people suiciding. Christianity is the cause of just as many problems as Islam, but it is much easier to make ‘them’ the enemy.
Easter is still Easter regardless of your hat parade, regardless of the packaging on some chocolates, regardless of the wording of greetings at specific times of the year.
For God so LOVED the WORLD….. not just those who we have decided are worthy.
I agree, Michelle. It can be easy to locate the enemy “out there”, whether it’s radical Islam or something else, without looking within to see the ways we can be our own worst enemies.
Absolutely! You got that right Mike. Ashamed at our ignorance and political correctiveness here in the West.
As a wise little Mexican girl once said, “por que no los dos?”
Why does the trouble of one person or group have to negate the pain and trouble of another?
Just because some people have an issue with the erosion of what they see as their Western Christian heritage here in Australia (although to be honest, the celebration they’re worried about has more in common with Oestre than the death and resurrection of Christ); doesn’t mean that they cannot care deeply, and act in in a way so as to support our Coptic Christian brothers and sisters.
Being blown up while you’re praying is in no way comparable to “the erosion of our Western Christian heritage,” whatever the heck that is. When Christians in the West start being killed for discriminating against LGBTQs, Muslims, or whoever else they think their “Western Christian heritage” gives them the right to discriminate against, then you’ll have a point.
Michael Frost is on point here.
To say that members of the LGBT community and Muslims are being discriminated against by Christians is laughable. Real persecution against the gay community can be found in how they are treated in predominately Muslim countries or in the fact that roughly 100000 Christians die yearly around the world for their faith. Who’s talking about that? I hear crickets chirping. All I hear is outrage over the fact that a Christian won’t bake a cake for a gay person.
We are all gods childrens the Western world has lost the way in protecting and turning the countries back to be Christian
I agree that Christians in the West are not facing real persecution and I agree that our hearts should break for suffering Christians in other parts of the world. Our church had just helped sponsor a man building homes for displaced Christians in Iraq. But I think it’s ridiculous that you “don’t care one bit” about the growing and glaring hostility toward the Christian faith in the U.S. if you and enough people like you keep thinking like that we may fund ourselves in real persecution a lot sooner than we ever thought it could happen. Can’t we be concerned about both issues at the same time? Give me a break.
I said I don’t care one bit about Easter hat parades. Try to read things more carefully. I acknowledge that I think the ‘persecution’ meted out on christians in the West is nothing compared to the suffering church in the Middle East, but I didn’t say I “don’t care one bit” about those isolated situations of real hostility toward Christians in the West.
Thanks Mike, some helpful perspective there! I want to suggest something that might be helpful for people to hear you better: I often find that some of your statements in intending to (rightly) point out the seriousness of the situations of our brothers and sisters overseas, unnecessarily dismiss or reduce the experiences that brother’s and sisters have in our culture. “Whining” or “Can we make a pact here in the West to stop referring to our own persecution or hostility or marginalization ever again?” are not particularly gracious, helpful and careful in affirming real hurts (however less than that of overseas) that our local brothers and sisters sometimes face. It is possible to hold the two together carefully without having to subtract from one. I know you don’t mean to dismiss the loss of being able to do business (ie cakes), have to give up a job as a X (X being marriage celebrant or other) or those who experience ridicule in the workplace, but sometimes your writings throughout choice of language/phrases suggest otherwise.
In dismissing one thing well please be more careful in language and gracious towards other brothers & sisters. Apart from that, thanks brother!
I appreciate your tone and the kindness that motivates your comment, but I’m not sure a blog article entitled, “They’re dying in Egypt while we’re whining about Easter hat parades, although some are being quite reasonably concerned about losing your jobs because of your stance on same-sex marriage” quite rolls off the tongue. 😉
Terrible. And, yes, an example of hostility, although an isolated one.
As a Coptic Christian living in the West, all the more reason to have the word “Easter” and to have Easter Hat Parades.
They are dying for it, literally, and we in the West can’t even say it.
Honestly, we have not only trivialized persecution here in the West with our whining over feeling marginalized, we been complicit in the trivialization of Easter! Easter is not about hat parades, bunnies or candy. I visited several Coptic churches in Egypt last year and worshiped in more than one. There is a sobriety to living out one’s faith in Jesus in Egypt, which I fear many of us in the United States have lost. Lord, have mercy on us as well as those who genuinely suffer for the cause of Christ.
Excellent post, Mike. I posted a link to it on our church’s Facebook page.
Thank you Mike for writing the truth. Living in Australia and I came from a Coptic Egyptian background. Our hearts are gutted & tears have not stopped when watching our people killed, bombed & persecuted for simple basic principles we take here for granted !!!! .But i am so proud of them, they witnessed Christ to a very stubborn-hearted nation & they walked with Jesus through the crucifix in this Holly week. Not sure if you saw the media interviews of the families who lost their dear ones .. unbelievable their response ! They are all forgiving the ones who killed their mums, their dads & their own child !! They pray for terrorists salvations & Christ to open their eyes !! These are the gems & the salt of this world ! These are the ones Christ chosen to witness Him on earth in this generation .. sadly sadly, We live in a culture that moulded us to be a lukewarm , not that we hot or cold ! We get offended from nothing . We celebrate the bunnies & left the crucified who died & ressurcted for us..
The kingdom of heaven will have be worthy to those who really fought the good fight & fnished the race where God has called them to be ..
A few people have raised the point about not dismissing instances of prejudice against Christians in the West while talking about the much more serious persecution of Christians in Egypt and other places. Having thought about it, I think this is right. We rightly don’t condemn women in the West for fighting against inequality in what they are paid, just because it is not as serious as the persecution and brutality women face in other parts of the world. And we don’t minimise the hurt an indigenous football player receives by way of a racist slur at the footy because some people in other countries are killed in racist attacks. I think we just agree to call out injustice, discrimination and persecution in any form.
And in agreement with the main thrust of Mike’s post here, Others have written/commented this week on how Western media and politicians downplay global Christian persecution. In an opinion piece for the Telegraph, Journalist and Historian, Dr Tim Stanley wrote: “When Christians are killed for being Christians, politicians overlook it and public interest fades”.
“We should call what’s going on in some Muslim countries a war on Christianity because that’s what it is. If we refuse to do this to avoid causing offence, we are allowing our worst enemies to police our language. “There is one other reason why we’re so nervous about engaging with this fight: the West is reluctant to identify itself as Christian.
“Our spirit has become so weak, our culture so vapid, that we struggle to see that the rights, the democracy, the religious pluralism that we all enjoy in our part of the world were not invented yesterday but are part of a historic, global story of Christian social progress. “We’ve forgotten who we are. No wonder that when we see members of our religious family suffer, we don’t realise the responsibility that we have for them.”
As Mike asks, “Can we pray for those who suffer because of their allegiance to Christ?” Yes, we can and we must. And we must also not allow silence to prevail regarding their plight.
I just totally agree. Thank you so much.