This Week in Imaginary Persecution: Chris Pratt and Women’s World Cup edition

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Did you hear about how Chris Pratt is totes persecuted for
being a Christian and liberals are literally blackballing him for talking about
his faith? We know it’s true because Facebook told us so and random clickbait
from rightwing websites never lies.

I mean, he’s so persecuted that his blockbuster summer
popcorn franchise only made half a billion
dollars opening weekend. And in the unfairness of it all, he just signed on to
costar with Jennifer Lawrence in a big budget sci-fi space opera, because what
choice of films does he have, being blackballed by Hollywood and everything?

Without this dreadful persecution, he’d be the biggest, most
beloved action-star-of-the-moment on both Earth and Mars, but because everyone
hates Christians he’s going to have to settle for being loved by just
earthlings. The tragedy of it all.

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Plus, I thought we were supposed to hate Jurassic Park because EVILution!

Also taking a bold stand for their faith in the face of
risking persecution from the homogheys are the professing Christians on the
USWNT at the World Cup. Or at least that’s what WORLD Magazine would like us to infer:

At least four professing Christians join hands on the current
team, including Amy Rodriguez and Heather O’Reilly, as the U.S. team tries to
get back to the World Cup Final July 5, where the United States women lost to
Japan in 2011. In World Cup defeat or gold medal glory, “when I walk away my
identity is still the same,” Holiday told Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
“I’m still a follower of Jesus Christ.” In contrast, team leaders Megan Rapinoe
and Abby Wambach and coach Jill Ellis all identify as lesbians.

A national
team, of necessity, creates a functional pluralism with mutual respect and
practical sacrificial love as teammates work toward a common goal. To date,
nothing has publicly challenged that unity for the U.S. women. Holiday sees her
own role as that of Barnabas from Acts, known as Son of Encouragement. She and
Heath are arguably more open about faith than their teammates are about their
chosen identities.

See, on one hand we’ve got our good Christian players, on the other, there are those evil dykes, and “even though nothing has publicly challenged” the unity of the USWNT, we’re clearly supposed to conclude that there’s tension and that it takes bravery to be Christian when the coach and star players are gay.

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(GIF: What I imagine comes to mind when WORLD thinks about the scary gays)

We shall, I supposed, ignore that Abby Wambach’s private Catholic high school named their soccer field after her (also, I guess we’re to ignore that Wambach is the youngest of seven kids from a Catholic family). I guess we’re also supposed to ignore that Megan Rapinoe, while describing herself as not religious, went to a private Catholic college and said she didn’t have problems being out while
in college.

Funny too, that for all of WORLD’s imagined tension between the Christians and the homogheys on the team, Heather O’Reilly is interviewed for ESPN’s lengthy profile of Wambach last year and describes Wambach as a friend. And indeed, O’Reilly instagrammed her attendance at Wambach’s wedding in Hawaii. But that doesn’t exactly fit WORLD’s narrative, does it?

Besides, this Christians vs. The Gays dichotomy that WORLD
is using to try and manufacture tension amongst the members of the USWNT out of
thin air doesn’t actually exist except in the minds of the religious right. There
are plenty of queer people of faith, and contrary to what the folks at WORLD
seem to think, being a Christian doesn’t mean constantly running around telling
queer people that they’re going to burn in hell.

What both WORLD’s little attempt at manufacturing controversy in the USWNT ranks and the imagined persecution of Chris Pratt demonstrate is an out-of-control persecution complex among American Evangelicals. Christians in America are not being persecuted. Christians in America will never be persecuted as long as the rule of law exists, the First Amendment makes sure of that.

This imagined persecution of their own making is an insult to the Christians around the world who actually are facing difficulties and persecution for their faith.

Christians in parts of the Middle East make real sacrifices to believe. So do Christians in other countries. In my travels I met a young woman whose parents locked her in the house every Sunday for over a year to keep her from going to church. That’s persecution. Being driven from your homes and killed by ISIS is persecution. Facing prison for worshiping in underground churches not sanctioned by your government is persecution. A few people disagreeing with you isn’t persecution.

American Christians need to stop cheapening the sacrifices of their brothers and sisters around the globe. It’s crass, distasteful, and disrespectful to those who have paid a high price for their beliefs.