On Sunday, the day of the church massacre, cultural commentator David French tweeted, "The amount of anti-Christian hate on Twitter the same day Christians were massacred is stunning and chilling."
If ever there was a time when we might have expected sympathy for Christians, or at least restraint in attacking them, the opposite proved true far too many times. Why?
On Fox News, Laura Ingraham noted that some of the reactions to the shooting pointed to "elite hostility to people of faith," stating that "hostility to faith infects the popular culture." She also spoke of a rising "militant secularism," drawing attention to comments which mocked the prayers of believers on behalf of those affected by Sunday's church massacre.
This is more than heartless and tactless. It is intentional and quite focused: Faith in God is to be mocked, in particular Christian faith, and when Christians are slaughtered during a church service, that is the perfect time to pile on.
To paraphrase: "Where was your God, you stupid Christians? A lot of good your praying did! Go ahead and stick your head in the sand some more and keep praying to your imaginary deity. You deserve each other!"
On Sunday, someone posted a picture on my Twitter account of three lions holding up signs that looked like those held up by cows on popular Chick-Fil-A ads. Except these signs were not saying, "Eat Mor Chikin." The signs read, "Eat Mor Cristins," with a caption adding: "America. Yeah. It's getting that way."
Unfortunately, at this point in time, these sentiments should not surprise us at all, as despicable and ugly as they may be. The truth be told, there is an increasing, palpable hostility towards the gospel in some quarters in America, and it can easily be explained.
First, it is a natural fruit of the harsh and condescending "new atheism," which continues to poison many hearts and minds with its venom. God is not simply to be rejected; He is to mocked and ridiculed, as are His followers.
Second, the hatred is a result of the culture wars, in which conservative Christians are targeted because of their opposition to LGBT activism and abortion. Bible-believing Christians are commonly compared to ISIS, accused of wanting to establish a Taliban-type theocracy, and called bigots and haters and Nazis. (Just search for any of these key words as AskDrBrown.org for a plethora of relevant articles. You'll even find examples of gay activists calling for us to be thrown to the lions.)
On a regular basis, I receive death-wishes (in perverse and graphic terms); on occasion, I receive death threats. And this is quite common for those of us on the front lines.
Others, whose voices may not be as prominent, receive ugly, personal attacks on social media, and those attacks are filled with malice and bile.
Consequently, when tragedy strikes conservative Christians, it brings the hatred against us to the surface, especially when we respond with faith in God.
Third, evangelical Christians in particular are lumped together with President Trump, as if we are responsible for (or in support of) every statement he makes and every stand he takes. To the extent that he is divisive, we are blamed for his shortcomings, and just as many on the right despised President Obama, many on the left despise President Trump. And as they despise him, they also despise us.
Fourth, the darkness hates the light, and this is an age-old battle that will continue until Jesus returns. To the extent we stand for sexual purity and biblical morality, and to the extent we preach Jesus as the only true way to God, we will be mocked and scorned.
That's the way it has always been, and that's the way it will always be, and that's why we must not deceive ourselves in terms of the cultural climate in America. The hostility against us is reaching a crescendo, and things could get even uglier in the days ahead.
That's why we should remember the words that Peter wrote almost 2,000 years ago: "Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name" (1 Peter 4:12-16).
And that's why we should also remember the words of Jesus, who called us to pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44), as well as the words of Paul, who called us to overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21).
Many of those who ridicule us viciously today will be preaching our message tomorrow, and some of the finest gospel ministers in the world were once profane gospel mockers. So, we can expect more abuse in the coming days. We can also expect some of our abusers to have a change of heart as they encounter the God whom they mock.