The Dispatch: More from CWR...

No, the persecution is not coming—it is already here

When a federal or state agency targets the Christians for their faith, they don’t often single out large groups or institutions. Instead, they persecute an individual or a single family, isolated from their support structure and the larger Church.

After being acquitted of federal charges by a jury in Philadelphia on Monday, Jan. 30, 2023, Mark Houck embraces and kisses his wife, Ryan-Marie Houck. Also with Houck are his son Mark Houck Jr., 14, and his daughter, Ava Houck, 12. / Joe Bukuras/CNA

Many in Catholic media have taken to warning that religious persecution is coming. Yet, such statements seem oblivious to what is already taking place. The persecution of Christians and especially Catholics tends to target individuals (and families) over groups, which makes it easier to miss. We are so disconnected from our neighbors in the pew that we can neither fight alongside them in their battles nor help them to bear their crosses. These are among the tragic consequences of the lack of community that exists today.

A realistic appraisal of current trends would reveal that no one in the modern age, neither government agency nor politician, makes neutered decisions out of fear of “upsetting the Catholics”. Those days have passed. There was a time in which Catholics as a body were more acknowledged, but that was when they were not trying too hard to blend with the world, nor did they care to apologize for their distinctiveness.

They didn’t join in eating hotdogs after a Friday night game, because Fridays were reserved for fish. At a Saturday night party, Catholics would stop eating and drinking at midnight (at least those planning on receiving Holy Communion the next day), because that was the requirement of the Eucharistic fast. These stricter rules caused Catholics to be differentiated from the rest of the world. It occasioned them to be seen, and known as Catholics, willing to be counted as such. That would have been uncomfortable at times and in some crowds, but certainly not the stuff of martyrdom.

The Faith and its adherents now appear less serious and present. It is for this reason that when a follower of the Church makes a choice based on his faith, such as rejecting a gig as the photographer of a “gay wedding” or declining to instruct an immoral sexual education class in schools, it appears so foreign to the secular world. Maybe the example seems extreme or ridiculous, but the difference in the acceptability of forcing a Christian to violate his faith versus doing so with another religious group is stark. One major contrast is that the expectation of outrage from the oppressed group and their defenders is much larger than if a Christian were subjected to similar abuse. Why? Perhaps because Jews and Muslims have set a standard in which they are expected to live differently, and to take their religious beliefs seriously.

A man of my own parish lost his management position at a major grocery store chain because he was asked to supply Plan B (the emergency contraceptive) to customers who requested it after the pharmacy had closed. He refused to comply with that dangerous and immoral directive. That’s a noble (and theologically correct) position for the parishioner, but it’s an example of a lived faith that is not only rare, but has come to be unexpected. The grocery store chain wasn’t afraid of “upsetting the Catholics”.

The main aggressor against the faithful is not corporate America, but the mighty boot of the government. When a federal or state agency targets the Christians for their faith, they don’t often single out large groups or institutions. Instead, they persecute an individual or a single family, isolated from their support structure and the larger Church.

Take the case of families in Oregon who cannot bear children of their own and who decide to adopt. Doing so requires first fostering the children, which involves agreeing to the state’s “standards”–including condoning promiscuity by teenagers, without forcing moral values upon them. It requires the promotion of LGBT exploration, along with exposing those children to “Pride events”. Of course, a practicing Catholic cannot agree to do something so immoral to a child in his care. Oregon is not the only state to mandate that they do so.

Jessica Bates filed a lawsuit earlier this year against the Oregon Department of Human Services for precisely this reason. The state’s policy is impossible for her to obey, on account of her faith. Is the state anti-Christian or merely explicitly pro-LGBT? That’s a distinction without a difference. In fact, this is the primary method of anti-Christian bigotry and selective persecution in the modern age. It is done by claiming that agencies are not anti-Christian, they are just opposed to Christian values, such as by favoring LGBT ideology. More precisely, they claim to be acting against Christian ‘disvalues’, that is, against the Christian lack of enthusiasm for immoral ideologies and practices. It is an attempt to falsely claim religious impartiality, by implying that those promoting sexual degeneracy are in fact doing what all people of common sense and goodwill would do, regardless of the presence or absence of religious conviction. Thus bureaucrats aren’t choosing between religions, only between religious observance and secularism. But the ideology of the modern left has all of the hallmarks of a religion, and a bad one.

That religion seeks to deny reason (such as in its denial of the most basic elements of biology), to force outsiders to accept and repeat their mantras, and to ignore horrendous evils enacted by their adherents (as with abortion). Of course it’s religious. Man is a religious creature, so he who feigns atheism is merely denying who his gods are. We must note the irony of those seeking what are, in effect, blasphemy laws that would punish those who use the wrong pronouns—while decrying Christians for their intolerance and zealotry.

The judicial system has been leveraged against the faithful. The FBI has admitted to not just investigating traditional Catholic communities, but actively placing undercover agents inside of them. This is a move that sows distrust among communities and invades the privacy of people who have done nothing wrong. It falsely connects traditionalism with immorality, as if praying an Ave Maria were a sure stepping stone to violence or terrorism. Intriguingly, one of the FBI’s alleged chief concerns about traditional Catholics was that they were not approving of LGBT lifestyles. In other words, the FBI really had a problem with doctrine, and those who follow it.

When the FBI was asked by Representative Jefferson Van Drew if it was okay to be Catholic, he was met with an eerie silence, before someone decided to conform to public appearances with a much belated yes.

Mark Houck is a pro-life activist who pushed a Planned Parenthood volunteer who had gotten in the face of his then 12-year-old son, shouting that the son should, “Go home and masturbate”. They had been standing outside of the abortion clinic to pray. In any other context, this tussle would not have even made local news. Yet, in this age, abortion clinics and their workers get special protections, which resulted in FBI agents descending on the father’s home, arresting him, and charging him with two counts of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act. The charge carries an 11-year prison sentence.

The trial and charges were so ludicrous that it took the jury less than an hour to dismiss them. Yet the emotional turmoil, financial distress, and burden upon the family cannot be overstated, nor can the chilling effect that such abusive prosecutions have upon the thousands of people who pray in front of abortion clinics around the country. There is no equivalent law to offer special protections to pro-life centers, even as the list of clinics attacked and vandalized continues to grow.

While men like Mark are being prosecuted for attempting to defend children, there hardly seems to be an avalanche of prosecutions against those who are harming juveniles. When Forsyth Tech Community College in North Carolina posted a drag event that resulted in high school students receiving lap dances, no prosecution was expected nor begun. Those who have children perform highly sexualized roles at drag events likewise never face prosecution. Children have become collateral damage in an ideological battleground.

Immediately after taking office, the Biden Administration notoriously dropped charges against those on the political left who had engaged in city burning as an act of protest. It did so while it aggressively pursued those who attended the January 6th protest–even those who neither engaged in assault nor damaged any property.

It’s easy to embrace the convenient illusion that persecution won’t happen to oneself or one’s own family, to assure ourselves that it’s something that happens out there, to “other people”. Yet, as demonstrated, the victims are not usually major figures or large Catholic organizations, but vulnerable individuals.

We must stop pretending that persecution may be coming someday, and face the awful truth of what has already begun. Our brothers and sisters are suffering persecution right now–and there are no signs of relief or better days on the horizon. They shouldn’t be suffering alone. We must join with them to serve a two-fold purpose: to provide real compassion to those suffering and to fight back.

Close-knit communities that are devoted to God and each other can help victims to fund legal expenses, change laws, activate ignorant or indifferent representatives, and prevent abusive agencies from singling out one of the faithful to destroy in the darkness. We must force them instead to confront the Body of Christ in the light.

Disconnectedness causes a vulnerability that is already being exploited. It is made worse in America because the national ideal lauds self-reliance and individualism, but it isn’t possible to fight these battles alone. Moreover, we are not meant to. We are innately social creatures, designed for community. In isolation, we are less than we could be. Collaboration and allyship cause us to grow, surround children with those striving for virtue, and have opportunities for stewardship that aid our rightful paths to Sainthood.

There have already been casualties stemming from the solitary mode of living that has become normal (and which was perversely encouraged during the covid years). Building a Christendom that might exist parallel to the rest of the world will be an essential mode of survival. It begins with forming groups and networks within parishes of those serious about living the faith.

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About Sarah Cain 3 Articles
Sarah Cain, known as The Crusader Gal, is a political and cultural commentator who makes regular videos about the decline of the West, and she writes Homefront Crusade. Originally from England, she lauds the traditional values that have so far prevented America from succumbing to the darkness that envelops Europe.


  1. Everyone should check out the Veritatis Splendor community in TX and the covenants governing that development.

    • Thanks, dear Sarah Cain.

      There are many complicating matters that arise from your impassioned account.

      For example: how many committed Catholics are happy with descriptors like: ‘Christendom’ and ‘Crusader’ that are connected with very un-Christian crimes of the past? Do we need to be careful that the names we adopt don’t exacerbate the existing socio-political splits in The Church? “Blessed are the peacemakers . . .”

      Where you write: “We are so disconnected from our neighbors in the pew that we can neither fight alongside them in their battles nor help them to bear their crosses. These are among the tragic consequences of the lack of community that exists today.”

      I’d thoroughly agree that only a few parishioners that I’ve met in Catholic churches around the world understand our Master Jesus’ teaching for us to LOVE one another sacrificially, as He loved us & will always love us. In daring to receive The Sacred Body & Precious Blood of our LORD, Jesus Christ, we are incorporated in His Body, under His Head; as such we deeply sin if we do not recognize our mutuality.

      It certainly seems that we need strong teaching on the awesome love nature of God, the cosmos-changing ministry of Christ, and the significance of Holy Eucharist.

      Among the nations, including America, I’ve found some, mainly laypeople, who understand and live the life Jesus has won for us. So, the yeast is still in the Church though it is laboring with a massive lump of inert Catholic dough.

      Yet, always, a genuine Holy Spirit Revival could ignite hearts in every parish with unconquerable, world-confronting, sacrificial love. “See how those Christians love one another . . . It must be true that The Father has sent Jesus Christ to save us!”

      Plenty for us to pray for, dear Sarah . . .

      Always in the grace & mercy of King Jesus Christ; love & blessings from marty

      • This committed Catholics is blissfully happy with descriptors like: ‘Christendom’ and ‘Crusader’.

        Within Christendom, heretics against the truth concerning (1) the value and inviolability of human life; (2) the divine law concerning marriage and the family; and (3) the constitution of the human person as unchangeably male and female, would have suppressed by all necessary means.

        There’s nothing in this to be ashamed of.

        • Thanks, dear Michael & ‘mrsc’.

          Am short of time to give a full account of the scandalous & even plain evil actions historically associated with those names that are (presumably in ignorance) held dear by some Catholics, who (unwittingly?) approve of violent conquests & who conflate worldly political dominance with the completely different Kingdom of God’s Peace that Jesus Christ & His Apostles have commanded us to live.

          Just one of numerous examples on the web:

          “The Crusaders began the siege of Antioch in October 1097 and fought for eight months to a stalemate. Finally, Bohemond persuaded a guard in the city to open a gate. The Crusaders entered, massacring the Muslim inhabitants as well as many Christians.”

          In contrast, see, for example Matthew 26:52-53 & many other peacemaking instructions from our LORD: “. . for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Or do think that I cannot appeal to My Father who would promptly send more than 7,200 angels to defend Me?”

          See also the powerful testimony of John 18:36-37.

          Faith-filled Catholics who follow our LORD’s irenic instructions will affirm that God is well able to employ holy angels to deliver us from what is not in God’s plans for us. We have not been left as orphans in this fallen world.

          ’tis good to remember Jesus taught us that God’s Realm is close & even within.

          Ever doing our best to follow King Jesus Christ; love & blessings from marty

          • God hasn’t appointed angels to exercise civil and military power on earth. He has appointed men to do so. It is for Christians to see to it that governments subordinate themselves to God instead of serving Satan.

            It is not only Christians who are being persecuted today. It is unborn children, the child and adult victims of divorce, and the young people who are being deceived into the mutilation of their bodies.

            Heresy against the truth of the natural law is and ought to be a public crime.

          • Dr Dr. R
            Like you I have little time to go into full account, but I see that you dwell on some instances that were terrible in Catholic History. I don’t deny crimes were committed by human beings (the Crusaders were not God, and therefore, not perfect). However, you forget that the Crusades were a response to the Muslim crusades that preceded it. In the space of a few short centuries, the Muslims swept across Christian lands and slaughtered all Christians who refused to convert to Islam. Those that weren’t slaughtered went into hiding. Christians didn’t start the Crusades, but were pulled in by a crime committed by adherents of another religion.
            You treat Catholic history like those who treat wars. America is blamed for the killing by the two A-bombs, but people forget what led up to the bombs being dropped. Remember, America didn’t start the war, but pulled in by a crime committed by another nation.
            The Allies are blamed for the killing by our planes which were dropped on Germany. But people forget that Germany committed horrible crimes against the allies and innocents.
            War is hell, there’s no denying that. But it is rare for the losing side to be innocent in the first place.
            As for your constant reminder about “God is love,” or quoting the Beatitude, “Blessed are the Peacemakers,” don’t forget those who refuse to take up arms (in any form or context) are usually the ones who are victimized by evil—remember the Holocaust. Also, keep in mind the victims of atheists of the 20th century where hundreds of millions were slaughtered by the communists in China, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, South America, Cuba, USSR, etc. God never meant us to go meekly to our deaths. We are to resist evil in any way we can.

      • Three cheers for Crusaders and Christendom! (And the author of this article!)

        Catholics nowadays have become little more than sissies and cowards. Somebody tells us that somebody called a “Crusader” who lived in “Cristendom” did something bad, and we immediately disown the words and everybody who once used them.

        Would that this generation had 1/10th the courage of Catholics in generations past. Would that there was still any sort of “Cristendom” left to live in.

        The present and future persecution will not be entirely bad as it will get rid of all the weak, faithless, liberal, Catholics-in-name-only who have taken over and polluted the Church. Good riddance.

        • I thank dear Michael, dear Pamela, & dear Cullen for their kind responses.

          The problem is that when we disobey the clear instructions given us by King Jesus Christ and His Apostles – even for the very good reasons that you lovely people present – we end up in the kingdom of this world rather than in The Kingdom of our God & Christ.

          Jesus taught us, that when we face unbearable persecution, we must up-sticks and move elsewhere. He promises that we’ll never run out of places to go to, as in, e.g., Matthew 10:23. The Apostles taught us that persecution is the norm for us believers while we are in this world – we are therefore indeed aliens here and pilgrims, sojourners, strangers just passing through, as in, e.g., 1 Peter 2:11.

          Our response is perfectly understandable: “How impractical is that! To leave my house, my land, our children’s schools & their friends, our parish, our careers, our country club, . . .” Even more courageously: “We’ll never give in to those persecutors; God will fight for us; we’ll win & cut them in pieces!”

          Am embarrassed to write this, praying that I’ll find grace myself to do what our LORD has commanded, loving my enemies & moving whenever impossible.

          It all comes back to what we have been taught and think that God is doing in this world. Does Jesus say we should WIN this temporary world or that we should simply WITNESS to God’s eternal realm of love, forgiveness, goodness, & peace?

          Apostle James gave his answer: “Friendship with this world is hatred of God!”

          Will leave the personal answer for each of us Catholics to pray about.

          Trying my best to follow The Lamb of God; love & blessings from marty

  2. Yes, but a small quibble. We read: “The main aggressor against the faithful is not corporate America, but the mighty boot of the government.” Corporate complicity with government’s gay agenda was manifested in 2015:

    Corporate America formally positioned itself in favor of the pivotal gay “marriage” ruling when it was on the docket of the United States Supreme Court. As broadly reported and rewarded in the media (them too!), AT&T and Verizon, Dow Chemical, Bank of America, General Electric, Coca-Cola and Pepsi, Google, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft, and the San Francisco Giants, were among nearly four hundred agenda-assimilated corporations and business organizations that weighed in.

    Together they spontaneously filed their own amicus briefs asserting a constitutional right to the oxymoron same sex “marriage.” The stated reason: stock market numbers might benefit marginally from spending patterns! The current annual drain on national spending—absent more homosexual households—involved “an estimated cost to the Gross National Product (GNP) of over one billion dollars per year” [or, a miniscule one 40th of one percent of the annual federal budget, or one 240th of one percent of the US GNP].

    Boardroom bobble heads with keyboards and photocopiers! And, buxom, prime-time media talking heads!

    Butt, it gets worse. I recall reading, somewhere and perhaps correctly, that the corporations are doing the bidding of the still larger international money managers, and that access to venture capital will be withheld if political correctness is violated.

    We begin to sense the depth of serpentine original sin, and the expansiveness of the divine charity Who would freely take all of this upon Himself, down to the last dregs. Pope Benedict held that what the world needs is not even better management, but saints…and these are now disallowed.

  3. I am old, and I have been disturbed in the last two years to watch my own nation become unrecognizable. Our children are being sexually groomed while the parents who oppose it are told by leftist judges their kids cannot “opt out” of such classes. Colleges are worse, with a growing intolerance for expression of different (conservative) opinions, leading to violence to suppress free speech. A two tiered justice system, flash mobs driving businesses OUT of town and OUT of business, our military compromised by partisan philosophy. Lying to turn a heated J6 protest into an “insurrection”, which was NEVER the case. Homeless defecate on the streets in our blue cities and attack solid citizens on trains and buses. Our borders are WELDED wide open by DEM decree, allowing for drug deaths and sexual trafficking of children, and gun toting cartel members to enter our country, while an AMERICAN (???) political party supports such for their own gain.And we do not yet know what the impact will be of terrorists who have walked through our wide open gates.Let us pray that we will not be struck by another 9/11.In all seriousness, I would like to know WHY anyone would vote for Biden , and WHAT one of his policies, if you can name one at all, has actually IMPROVED quality of life for American citizens??? If you CANNOT name one, I plead with you to remain home and refrain from voting, because your vote for these poisonous, partisan DEM politicians is destroying the country.

  4. There is another kind of persecution that is not at the individual or family level but has applied to Catholics for years but we seem to be oblivious to it. When one of our clergy commits a sexual crime the property of the entire church community can be taken by lawsuit. This does not (yet) hit us personally but it does hit that which the congregation has paid for over generations. This is group punishment for the crimes of an individual. Clergy run our church but it is not their personal property. To my knowledge other denominations are not treated this way.

  5. Dear JJR.

    Are you sure that (“the property of the entire church community can be taken by lawsuit”) what we think of as ours is not actually legally held by the clerics.

    The senior clerics, from the Pope down, are supposed to over-sight all other clerics, hence they are held legally responsible and can forfeit all ‘their’ funds . . ?

    Am not sure. Maybe we should ask an experienced Catholic cannon lawyer, like Ed Condon of The Pillar, to make a determination for us – maybe an article in CWR ?

  6. It is my belief that persecution will result in the unification of Protestant and Catholic (and perhaps Orthodox) Christians in the United States. I spent the first 45 years of my life involved in many ministries in stellar Evangelical Protestant churches which produced authors, speakers, musicians, and politicians with national and international followings. I grew up with teachings that Catholicism was “anti-Christ”, and I also grew up in an era where almost all of the Protestant denominations taught the importance of the Ten Commandments and other Biblical teachings about issues like homosexuality, modesty, etc. But now, many Protestant denominations have given themselves over to teaching that what the Scriptures call “abominations” are actually beautiful and godly–and these denominations are bleeding members who are heading to the “Praise and Worship” fellowships that are often led by one charismatic Evangelical Protestant individual–and all too often, these churches fold after scandals reveal that their leadership is not what they claimed to be (sexual and financial abuses, etc.). But there is light and hope! Prominent and anonymous Evangelical Protestants are working side-by-side with Catholics in many ministries especially pro-life ministries, and even stalwart Protestant magazines like Christianity Today include positive articles by and about Catholics, along with quotes from Catholic saints and current Catholic authors and even priests and religious! Almost every Evangelical Protestant pastor I meet welcomes me as a Catholic and does NOT try to “convert me back to the truth of the Gospel”, but rather, asks me questions about Catholicism and receives my testimony with joy! It’s miraculous, IMO, and I pray that I will live long enough to see all Christians re-united in the Catholic Church! The persecution of Christians is one of the major driving forces towards unification–we are stronger when we are together, not separated into hundreds of “denominations”.

  7. Very good article. Whatever one may feel about past impressions of the words Christendom and Crusader, we need more Christendom and Crusader today. We might hear a homily in October about being pro-life. But don’t even think about including in the bulletin a public record, such as the democrat platform statement on murdering unborn babies – which is that they are in favor of murdering unborn babies anytime, anyplace, for any reason, paid for by the government. Very recently top government officials have stated that abortion should be permitted up to the day of birth. What bishops or pastors are making an issue of this (and mentioning names)? Pro-Life demonstrators were tried and convicted last month and more this month and they are awaiting sentencing. Where is the outrage? I guess the bishops are too tied up with Synod issues.

    • Thanks, dear ‘C’.

      Abortion at any stage is murder and must be opposed by all legal means. At the same time, effective practical help must be provided for those tempted.

      We only need to claim to be a New Testament-faithful, Catholic Christian to identify our authority in this matter.

      Is it not preposterous to call ourselves ‘crusaders’, for history shows the crusaders arbitrarily cruelly murdered pregnant mum’s and tiny infants; among their other iniquitous, Christ-defying, violent abominations. Sad but true.

      Violence is never a godly solution to violence. Persistent prayer, self-giving care, and loving persuasion are what attract God’s help to solve this vexatious problem.

      Always in the love of Jesus Christ; blessings from marty

      • “Violence is “never a Godly solution to violence.” Really?
        Four years ago, a man broke into my home in the middle of the night when I was alone. Yes, he had a gun. So did I. I responded to his violent action of breaking my window and before he got 5 feet into the room, I shot him in the head. I didn’t ask questions. His breaking my window and climbing though was enough information.
        I used violence to stop violence. What were my other choices? Call the police? In just under 30 seconds, I was confronted by a violent individual and there was no way the police could have been there in time.
        You do seem to have a habit of making absolute statements. I cannot help but wonder at your reasons.

        • Thanks for the moving account of what must have been a truly dreadful experience for you, dear Pamela. Hoping you’ve found a Jesus-empowered prayer ministry that is anointed for inner healing and healing of memories.

          Thank you, too, for asking about my reasons. Just simply trying to hear, obey, love, and follow King Jesus Christ, no matter what happens, for the last 80 years, often in great danger in Africa (shot at), in Asia (given poison), and assaulted on the streets of New York, etc., etc.

          Reading little books: ‘The Hiding Place’ by Corrie ten Boom; ‘The Cross and the Switchblade’ by David Wilkerson; and ‘Chasing the Dragon’ by Jackie Pullinger convinced me that it is possible to be so close with The Living Christ that I will know when danger is near & will be (according to His will) saved and blessed. [That does not mean I leave my home unsecured or feel free to drive on the wrong side of the road! Presumption is a sin.]

          Each person has to make up their minds about how to balance sensible personal protection and obedience to Jesus’ command to accept the blows & to turn the other cheek. Only Christ in Glory can judge our hearts in this matter; only Christ in His Mercy can forgive us when we get it wrong.

          Take care beloved sister; ever in Christ; blessings from marty

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