Believers have been persecuted throughout the history of Christianity, and are still persecuted in many countries around the world. Many Believers must still worship in private and can only gather together in secrecy. The Book of Revelation indicates that in the End of Days, Believers will be persecuted in the countries that fall under the dominion of the Anti-Christ.
When we look at current and historical examples where Christianity is suppressed or persecuted, we can identify certain conditions that are necessary for it to occur. Once we identify those conditions, we can monitor them to see if the probability of persecution rises. Given the prophesies in Revelation, we can expect to see this probability rise in nations that he will come to rule.
There are some basic conditions that are generally present when Christianity is suppressed and persecuted. One condition relates to prevalence. When Believers are a small percentage of the population, it becomes easier for them to be persecuted. The Jewish authorities never recognized the legitimacy of the Christian belief after the crucifixion of Jesus, and persecuted Christians both inside of Judea as well as pursing them abroad. The Roman government similarly persecuted Christians until finally recognizing the legitimacy of the Church as the number of Christians grew despite their efforts.
Since those dark early days, Believers have been able to worship freely in the West. However, as we approach the End of Days, it is highly possible that the number of Believers will diminish until they once again become an endangered minority. The rosiest scenario would be one where the percentage of Christians remains stable and will represent a sizeable portion of the general population until the Rapture. Indeed, should the Rapture occur, then there will be zero Believers in the world for an instance of time. In this scenario, only those who come to Christ after the Rapture will be forced to endure the persecution of the End of Days.
In a darker scenario, should there not be a Rapture (there is debate on this point among Christian theologians), we may see a world that increasingly turns away from God. Polls seem to indicate a negative trend, with small decreases of those professing to be of the Christian faith.1 Those of the Protestant faith now represent a faint majority of Americans. There may be certain factors at work that could cause a more rapid decrease in the percentage of Believers in the nation.
One factor may be illegal immigration. Among the illegal immigrants, I would expect most to be of Catholic background, given that they are from Latin America. This could be a boon to the Christian faith in America, however, I fear for the state of the Catholic Church and the faith of these immigrants may disappear as much as other Catholics in the US.
Another factor may be a falling out of faith among Believers. Though a slight majority of Americans profess to be ‘cultural’ Protestants, a much smaller percentage actually attend church services on a regular basis.2 I admit that I rarely attend church services at present and regular church attendance is not the basis of faith, but it still can be used as one barometer for measuring the number of Believers in the population. It is interesting to note that the number of people attending church is not declining so much as it is not increasing with the increase in population (thus a declining percentage of the general population). This could indicate that new immigrants and the youth of America are not attending church services – obviously the two sources of population growth that also represent the future of America. In a separate study in Britain, the loss of youth attendance has been documented.3
The aging demographic of those who do attend church regularly, and the corresponding lack of church attendance of the youth, could by itself argue that within 20 years, Believers could shrink in both absolute and percentage terms as the older Believers die off and the lack of belief among the young.
It is interesting to note in the English study, the one group that is growing is the Pentecostal churches. Perhaps as we draw closer to the End of Days, the ‘lukewarm’ will cool and only the fieriest flames will have sufficient heat to survive the night.
The decreasing number of Believers is documented, and perhaps at a later time, we can discuss more on the factors, but this falling away of faith by the overall population looks to be a long term trend. Its continuance would mean that Believers will become a small minority of the population, and thus vulnerable to suppression and persecution.
The second condition that is required for the suppression and persecution of Christianity is a hostile government or overarching authority (e.g. hostile religious group). Currently, in Muslim countries as well as in Jewish countries (at this point, only Israel), the activities of the Christian church are restricted (if they are allowed to exist at all). In these nations, Christians make up a small percentage of the population, and the governments (as well as their religious leaders) want to make sure it stays that way. In America, with a decreasing population of Believers, we can see the first glimmers of laws that are hostile to the Christian faith as groups that are hostile to the Christian faith succeed in not only suppressing Christianity, but are moving to be able to legally harass Believers.
The suppression of Christianity in America has been ongoing for decades in the courts, as certain ‘activist’ groups sought to enforce ‘separation of state and religion’. These groups have suppressed the expression of Christian symbols, such as nativity scenes at Christmas, or the display of the cross on public land. They have sued companies that would wish people ‘Merry Christmas’, forcing by lawsuits to say, ‘Happy Holidays’. They have sued children who wanted to pray in school. These groups have won more than they lost in the courts, as they are well funded and have worked relentlessly over decades. This has been one front where the suppression of Christianity has occurred.
The passage of laws that are in direct contravention of Christian teachings will increase and the enforcement of those laws will be used to legally harass Believers. Believers will be facing an increasingly hostile environment as we get closer to the final ascension of the Beast. The legal establishment of gay marriage is the rotting fruit of the effort of certain groups, and they will not stop there. There will be no end to the sexual perversions that they will look to establish on the youth and rest of society. I have noted previously news where a Believer who refused to sell flowers for a gay wedding was being prosecuted by a local government. As more moral perversities are legitimized by an increasingly hostile government, Believers will find themselves pushed to the edges of society – a precondition for persecution.
As we have been taught, ‘by their fruit you shall know them’, and by this, we can ascertain that the children of the Beast are very politically active in America – as their goals are consistent with those of the coming Beast. As they use their wealth to increasingly control the different government institutions – they seem to have already won a majority on the Supreme Court – they will increasingly to be able to create laws that are hostile to the beliefs of Believers.
God told us what to expect in the End of Days, just as He has told us what He wants us to do while on this world. We watch for the signs of His return, and while doing so, look to be faithful stewards, doing His work as His representatives on this world. We are not fearful of what is to come, but rejoice in that we may be blessed to witness His second coming.