From the first century AD to the present, harassment and persecution of the Church by government or cultural elites have followed a pattern:
- Accuse the Church of obstinately clinging to an unpopular teaching out of hostility and bad will.
- Attack the Church, using a false accusation as justification for unjust treatment.
- Offer to relent if the Church will cede a part of the obedience owed to God to the state.
- When the Church refuses, increase the attacks and use that refusal as “proof” of unreasonableness of the Church and justification for continued mistreatment.
Sometimes these attacks have been overt, cruel and barbaric. Sometimes they masquerade as enforcement of an ordinarily good law but is misapplied. But regardless of how it is done [*], the State using these tactics is abusing its authority and often betraying the principles it was established under. In most circumstances, the Church in a region has two choices: To endure the persecution while trying to convert the persecutor or to capitulate to the State and consent to doing evil or having evil done in her name. The goal of the state is to force the second option. The call of the Christian is to choose the first option.