Well, the four were just acquitted this week. They were found not guilty of the charges of disorderly conduct and released. It was an expensive proposition, defending themselves in court and all. They had financial support from other believers and legal defense from the Thomas More Law Center, but it was a week of expenses and it wasn't cheap. Still, they're happy to be vindicated ... I suppose until next year if the Dearborn Arab International Festival fires up again and they go back.
Getting into trouble with the local law enforcement isn't new to Christianity. It is, in fact, a problem from the beginning. The Apostles faced this very problem. Some were killed for their faith. Others were imprisoned. Some of the more stirring stories come from the book of Acts when men like Peter, Paul, and Silas are thrown in prison and enjoy miraculous releases. It's a funny thing, though. I don't find any accounts of where they hired lawyers and fought for their right to justice. Oh, Paul did speak on his own behalf -- "Is it lawful for you to flog a man who is a Roman citizen and uncondemned?" -- but that was intended to get him to Rome to share the Gospel, not to get out of facing consequences. Indeed, "This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar." So where do Christians get this idea that we ought to be defending our Constitutional rights? I don't know.
Americans live under the Constitution. The Constitution ensures rights. Americans are certainly free to defend their rights ensured by the Constitution. I would not suggest otherwise. But I'm disturbed by the sense that I get that the Constitution confers on Christians certain rights worth fighting for. The sense is that we ought not to be persecuted in this way. The idea seems to be that it's unfair to be faced with the kind of opposition that we face. "This is America! Christians shouldn't be persecuted here!" It is a mixed metaphor, so to speak, because Americans have rights under the Constitution, and Christians who are Americans have rights as Americans to defend themselves with the law, but Christians who expect no persecution are not reading their Bibles. Further, even if we can manage to use the Constitution (or other laws) to force our "rights", it isn't going to make disciples, and that, not "defend yourself", is our Great Commission.
Here, let me put this another way:
"Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you" (Matt 5:10-12).Now, which headline would more clearly express this idea -- "Christian missionaries acquitted in Dearborn" or "Christian missionaries accept false charges in Dearborn"? Are the Dearborn Four more blessed because they were acquitted or because they were persecuted for righteousness' sake? I'm not sure that we Americans, accustomed to rights and comfort, could calmly answer with the latter.