Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Christian Freedom in the U.S., Russia, Israel and Brazil

Christian Freedom in the U.S., Russia, Israel and Brazil

By Julio Severo
Even though overwhelmingly evangelical in its origin, the United States does not privilege today evangelicalism and the U.S. government clearly does not favor it. In the U.S. religious freedom, all the religions are equal. So the evangelicalism that founded the U.S. is officially in the same level as Islam, Hinduism, Catholicism, witchcraft, etc.
According to this U.S. equality system, officially Jesus Christ is in the same level as Mohammed, Beelzebub and Satan. In fact, in American schools you can pray to Satan and recite the Islamic Koran, but you cannot pray to Jesus Christ or recite the Bible.
According to this system, the U.S. government cannot honor its evangelical foundation above Islam, Hinduism, Catholicism, witchcraft, etc. If the U.S. government wants religious partnership, it cannot give preference to evangelicalism. It is obliged to give equal partnership to Islam, Hinduism, Catholicism, witchcraft, etc.
In Russia, which is the largest Christian Orthodox country in the world, there is no such equality. The Christian Orthodox Church is recognized by the Russian government as the largest Christian religion in Russia. Catholics and evangelicals, who are 2 percent of the Russian population, are second-rate religious citizens. Orthodoxies have their reasons to do it with Catholics, considering that the Vatican has always antagonized the Orthodox Church, seeing it as an opponent of its supremacy.
Orthodoxies seem to bear a grudge against Catholics because of an invasion of Catholic crusaders in Constantinople, which was the capital of the Orthodox Church. Constantinople was looted, raped and victimized because of this old hatred. Even though with its focus largely on Muslims, the Catholic Crusades victimized also multitudes of innocent Jews and Orthodox Christians. But evangelicals never acted this way toward Orthodox Christians. Then Orthodoxies should not put evangelicals in Russia as second-rate religious citizens.
Brazil imitates the U.S. in religious freedom. In the recent Olympic Games in Brazil, football player Neymar, who is a nominal evangelical, was criticized by the Olympic Committee because he used a headband titled “100% JESUS.” But the same Olympic Committee did not criticize the official closing of the Olympic Games, which showed fetishistic sorcerers and a blatant glorification of Afro-Brazilian religions (which are similar to voodoo).
Many Christians protested that it was discriminatory. But what did they want? Did they want the same respect and consideration afforded to demons to be equally granted to Jesus? Did they want Jesus to be equated with demons?
In the equality democracy, Jesus is no better than a voodoo demon or Satan. In Jornalismo TV Cultura (Brazilian Culture TV News) on August 20, 2015 Brazilian historian Leandro Karnal said, “If it is forbidden to mock or insult religions, an issue being considered in Rio de Janeiro, let us remember that Satanism is also a religion and when an evangelical minister begins to expel the devil of someone, we can fine him because he is insulting the faith of a Satanist, because the devil also produces a religion. Whoever wants to attack the devil, whip the devil should also be fined because he is insulting faith on Satan.” You can watch his comments here: https://youtu.be/VkXm3nOm-rg

Many can think that the fight for legal equality is helpful, but it is bringing more rights to Satan and his demons and does not glorify Jesus, and to glorify Jesus is the most important mission for a Christian. A Christian’s mission is not to fight for Jesus to have, in democracy, the same worth as Satan and his demons.
Whether laws acknowledge it or not, Jesus is above demons and Satan, who are fallen creatures condemned to Hell. He is the Creator and Lord. It is blasphemous to agree with laws that equate fallen creatures with the Lord who creates, saves and changes.
I do not like the current American system that equates Jesus with Beelzebub. If risen today, George Washington would fight this system, because he supported the practice, common in the U.S. beginnings, that all politicians, to be inaugurated, should swear, with his hand on the Bible, that he believed in the Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
And I do not like the Russian system that puts the Orthodox Church as a Christian church above evangelical churches. But the current U.S. system seems the worst.
Yet, if the U.S. thinks the Russian system worse, why not criticize Israel too? Just as in Russia, evangelicals in Israel are no more than 2 percent. Pew Research Center has identified Israel as one of the countries that places high restrictions on religion. Pew said,
“But the list of countries with high restrictions also contains some that are widely seen as democratic, such as… Israel. Israel’s score is driven up by… its preferential treatment of Orthodox Jews. The government recognizes only Orthodox Jewish religious authorities in some personal status matters (such as marriage) concerning Jews and devotes the bulk of state funds provided for religion to Orthodox Jews, even though they make up only a small portion of all Jews in Israel.”
In his book “Persecuted: The Global Assault on Christians” (Thomas Nelson, 2013), Paul Marshall says,
“In another instance, in Israel, proselytism is legal as long as no material benefits are offered for conversion. But elements within the government sometimes act as though this isn’t so. People suspected of being missionaries have been denied visas and sometimes detained and required to post bail and pledge not to evangelize. There are also occasional mob attacks on churches or other buildings hosting converts.”
In comparison with Islamic nations, Israel offers much more freedom to Christians. But in comparison with the U.S., Israel offers them less freedom. In fact, if in the U.S. the Jews were treated as Christians are treated in Israel, there would be complaints of “anti-Semitism.”
The same reality is applicable to Russia. In comparison with Islamic countries, Russia offers much more freedom to Christians. But just as Israel protects and privileges its main religion, Russia does the same thing for the Russian Orthodox Church.
Therefore, the U.S. media’s hysteria against Russia is baseless. When Russia establishes some restriction for non-registered religious activities, the U.S. media cries “censorship” and a “return of the Soviet Union.” But this same media does not cry anything over the Israeli restrictions on activities of Christian evangelism in Israel. In fact, it remains silent.
The media, which makes a great stir against Russia, does not make the same stir against Saudi Arabia, which murders Christians and bans the Bible and worship meetings. The only difference seems to be that Russia is a political enemy of the U.S. and Saudi Arabia is officially a “friend.” Just as Israel, Russia does not murder Christians and does not ban the Bible and registered worship meetings.
Evidently, all these nations need a powerful change.
Israel needs a revival, to live the wonders of Messiah Jesus Christ.
Russia needs a revival, to understand that better than the Russian Orthodox Church is to live for Jesus Christ.
The U.S. and Brazil need a revival, to stop equating Jesus and Satan and putting them in the same level in their laws of religious freedom.
The Pink Swastika author Scott Lively, who is very familiar with the religious-freedom challenges in the U.S. and Russia, has offered his comment for my blog:
In this age-old conflict of doctrinal camps, it is important to recognize the failure of all denominations and church institutions to fully reflect “The Way of the Messiah” as it taught in the Whole Bible. Any religious movement or institution that pretends to speak for God or provide the “one true path” to fellowship with Him commits the sin of arrogance. None of the Apostles claimed infallibility and their perspectives varied widely, resolving their differences practically (by voting). Paul addressed the question of doctrinal disputes squarely in 1 Corinthians, admonishing the church “do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes.” In the meantime, we should seek the spiritual unity of ALL believers in Christ on the points on which we can agree — including the Torah-faithful Jews who simply haven’t yet recognized Jesus as the Messiah — and approach our differences with charity and humility.  
Portuguese version of this article: Liberdade cristã nos EUA, Rússia, Israel e Brasil
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