Punishing the wrong party
An odd thing kept happening to Paul. He would be preaching God's Word, such as in Philippi (Acts 16) or Jerusalem (Acts 21 and 22). The Word would infuriate those opposed to God. They would become riotous and intimidating, even physically violent with Paul. The Roman authorities would be called in. And what would they do? Would the authorities rescue and defend Paul, arresting the riotous individuals who were disturbing the peace and assaulting Paul?
They might extract Paul from the situation, but HE was the one arrested, flogged, punished, and imprisoned. The illegal acts of the mob were being done against Paul, yet the authorities charged HIM with the crimes. "Odd," we think. "What an unjust legal system they had back then!"
But it's not only "back then." If the facts and video we're getting from Philadelphia are at all correct, it appears that Christians are again being prosecuted when they are the victims of lawlessness, rather than the perpetrators. (See several accounts and video linked to an article on the WorldNetDaily website.)
Here's what happened: Homosexual groups hold a public "Outfest" in Philadelphia. A Christian group decides to witness at the festival, using signs and public preaching. It is probably not the most diplomatic or even effective move on the part of these Christians, but it ought to be their right. In the open marketplace of ideas on a public street, two very different ideologies should be able to be presented.
But the Christian voice is not treated equally. First, they are accosted by "Pink Angels," kind of like Storm Troopers for the gay movement, who encircle the Christians with blocking pink panels, shout obscenities and blow whistles to drown out their witness, impede their free movement, and generally harass the Christians in an aggressive manner.
Next the police show up, but what do they do? Do they referee, so that each side is allowed to have its say in a reasonable manner? Do they cause the Pink Angels to stand down and behave themselves? No. The police ignore the harassing Pink Angels and concentrate on forcing the Christians to leave the area. Eventually the Christians, set upon and harassed by the mob yet unwilling to forfeit their right of free speech, are arrested by the police, while the mob cheers.
Now, out of that Christian group, four adults and a 17-year-old young woman face trial for a number of felony and misdemeanor charges, which could land them in jail for up to 47 years. And the Pink Angels, the mob that was the aggressor in denying free speech to the Christians? They are celebrating their victory, thanks to the Philadelphia police.
In Philippi and Jerusalem, with the Roman authorities, and in Philadelphia, with its police authorities, the Christians remain the fall guys.
Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.