The Times Be Changing

Two news stories caught my eye that came out this week. One was of a man charged with a hate crime and the other was of some protestors possibly facing up to 11 years in prison. The man accused with a hate crime was Michael Cassidy. He destroyed a Satanic statue that was displayed in Iowa’s State Capitol. The AP News reported, “A Mississippi man accused of destroying a statue of a pagan idol at Iowa’s state Capitol is now being charged with a hate crime.
The statue was brought to the Capitol by the Satanic Temple of Iowa under state rules allowing religious displays in the building during the holidays. The move drew strong criticism from state and national leaders, including Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and Florida Gov. and presidential candidate Ron DeSantis, both Republicans. On Dec. 14, the figure depicting the horned deity Baphomet was “destroyed beyond repair,” according to the group.
Photo courtesy of NY Post
Michael Cassidy, a former congressional and legislative candidate from Mississippi, was charged the next day with fourth-degree criminal mischief, a misdemeanor. He told the conservative website The Sentinel that “my conscience is held captive to the word of God, not to bureaucratic decree. And so I acted.” It is not so much that he was charged, but that he was charged with a hate crime. He knocked down a statue. An inanimate object. In a public building. He did not go after someone of opposite faith or destroy any property at their place of worship.
The protestors I mentioned earlier were christians that were protesting at an abortion clinic. The AP News reported, “A Tennessee jury has convicted six anti-abortion protesters of violating federal laws after they blocked the entrance of a reproductive clinic outside Nashville nearly three years ago.At issue is a 2021 “blockade” held outside a reproductive health clinic in Mount Juliet, Tennessee, a town 17 miles (27.36 kilometers) east of Nashville, nearly a year before the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. The event was organized by anti-abortion supporters who used social media to promote and live-stream actions that they hoped would prevent the clinic from performing abortions, according to court documents.”
Now, did they do something illegal? Perhaps. Did they block the entrance of the abortion clinic? Yes. But if you watch the video of these christians, they were sitting down singing hymns and praying in front of the entrance. When the police came they went  peaceably. There was no violence. They didn’t yell or scream.  They were not being intimidating. They were not being verbally abusive or throwing things. Yet, they could possibly get eleven years in prison for sitting, singing and praying. The AP News also reported, “The jury’s decision, handed down late Tuesday after a weeklong trial, marks the latest development in a case that has been closely watched by conservative groups, who have accused the federal government of unfairly targeting abortion opponents by using 1994 federal law designed to protect abortion clinics from obstruction and threats. Reproductive rights supporters counter the law, known as Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, or the FACE Act, is more critical than ever in shielding abortion providers from violence now that the constitutional right to abortion has been revoked.”
Now I bring this up to compare to some other headlines. In December, the Chicago Maroon reported, “During a court hearing on December 20, state prosecutors dropped all charges against the 26 students and two faculty members arrested during a sit-in of Rosenwald Hall on November 9 organized by UChicago United for Palestine (UCUP). The University charged protestors with “criminal trespass to real property,” typically a Class B misdemeanor in Illinois, which can carry a punishment of up to six months in jail and a $1,500 fine.”
Then a couple of months ago WUSF and NPR reported, “A group of University of South Florida protesters known as the "Tampa 5" have been cleared of felony charges stemming from a campus rally in March.The group gained national attention following their arrests. They were charged with battery on a law enforcement officer, resisting an officer without violence, and disrupting a school campus or function, and each faced the possibility of a five to 10 year prison sentence. After a Tuesday morning pre-trial hearing at the Hillsborough County Courthouse, it was announced that felony charges would be dropped.”
Photo courtesy of Tampa Bay Times
It certainly does not seem to be like an equal measuring stick is being used. In situations where there was violence and verbal assault, the charges are dropped. Yet when there is a peaceful protest and something happens to an object, heavy charges are filed. I highlight this to warn and also encourage.  First the warning. Times are changing in America. Christians are going to be targeted and treated unfairly. We should just expect it. And we should not be surprised by this. Christians will be persecuted. We will face unjust actions toward us. The Bible promises us this: “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted…” (2 Timothy 3:12). We are in a war! The enemy is prowling around seeking how to douse the flame of our hearts. We should be honored to take slings and arrows for our king. “Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.”(Acts 5:41)
The encouragement I want to mention here is while there are many unjust judges, we serve the perfect Judge. Many courts do not serve justice, even in the best country in the world. Ecclesiastes tells us, “If you see in a province the oppression of the poor and the violation of justice and righteousness, do not be amazed at the matter, for the high official is watched by a higher, and there are yet higher ones over them.” (Ecclesiastes 5:8) Yet we can rest assured that our Lord will balance the scales. He will vindicate those who are His. We may be unfairly treated now, but the day is coming where He will set the record straight. He promises us, “For the Lord will vindicate his people and have compassion on his servants.” (Psalm 135:14) and “Say to those who have an anxious heart, “Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.” (Isaiah 35:4)
The times are certainly changing. It is only getting worse. But know this is part of being a disciple of His. We need to die to ourselves. We need to be willing to lose our life to save it. We must decrease and He must increase. And remember that He promises us justice. We may have to wait, but He will vindicate His children who are unfairly treated.

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