American Family Radio has been airing an ad recently pimping their DVD special “Speechless: Silencing the Christians.” (There’s also a book that accompanies the DVD.) I’m not 100 percent certain, but I think the content is about how government officials and political activists are stopping Christians from speaking out about gays and other boogey men.

Normally, I wouldn’t bother gracing such an ad with an eye roll, but something about this particular one has gotten under my skin lately. Approximately three-quarters through the ad, the spokesperson says, “At 22 minutes in length, each episode is perfect for your Sunday School, mid-week service or small group discussion.” (I paraphrase, but Sunday School is explicitly mentioned.)

Here’s my problem: the aim of Sunday School in most evangelical circles is, ostensibly, discipleship. The same goes for mid-week service. I’ll grant a little leeway for discussion groups, but my point is that participation in the culture war is being implicitly sold as discipleship.

And that’s a problem. Someone can take a strong stand against gay marriage, abortion, sex education, evolution being taught in schools, violent video games, Hillary Clinton’s 2012 presidential campaign, ad nauseum, and still not know a lick about what it means in real world terms to be a follower of Christ.

I am sure that the examples of nasty government and corporate action against Christians that the American Family Association dug up are truly appalling. But I am also sure they are not, in any real sense, persecution. If they are persecution, well, Christ promised us just that (though he didn’t spend nearly as much time talking about homosexuality as these folks).

I actually believe real anti-Christian legislation and culture is coming, but this kind of crying wolf doesn’t help it, and I suspect the whining might even make it worse and bring it a little more quickly. I’m tired of the harping about anti-Christian bias in science textbooks every time someone’s child comes home with a book from the public school library that says dinosaurs lived 65 million years ago. I’m not saying we should sit back and take it, but American Christians need to pick their fights wisely and rely more on truth and love and less on hysteria and propaganda. It’s no wonder the Homeland Security office wrote a memo about the possibility of right-wing terrorists who would be focused on single issues like gay marriage — when you talk about a war long enough, though they might laugh about it at first, the perceived enemy just might take you up on it.

But the trick is, the real enemy knows that the best way to distract someone is to take a little truth, twist it a tad, and then let them run with it. (In this case, crusading for what a person thinks is righteous rather than pursuing righteousness.)

My other thought is this: would the martyrs and catacomb Christians look at what is going on now and think, “Man, they’ve got it rough?”