Why Congregate Anonymously?
Updated as of: 2 May 2017.
The reasons are:
increased Personal Safety by increased security of our personal
information from enemies:
At first it might seem suspicious, untrustworthy, and unnecessary to have a Christian ministry where members are typically anonymous, in the sense of not knowing each other's personal information (name, date of birth, home address, etc). If you have something to hide, doesn't that mean you are doing something wrong? Since when did Jesus hide?
Actually Jesus hid with his parents in Egypt just after his birth. And the early Christians hid quite a lot.
A need to hide does
not arise out of doing something wrong at all; it arises out of a
desire to escape or reduce attack. Attack can be motivated by good
or evil, and it is not up to the victim to choose. The perpetrator
attacks according to their own priorities, morality and criteria,
not yours. If they are vaguely on the same side but like the old
ideas and you're introducing new ideas, they might decide to attack.
If they are on the opposite side and you're doing great work, they
might decide to attack to stop or at least deter you. Although you
might give others freedoms, they might not: just by having different
beliefs than them they might decide to attack.
Let me put it this way: if you live in a democracy, is it publicly visible which candidate you voted for, or is that kept anonymous? In the system I'm familiar with, they check your ID to let you go to the voting box, but once there that vote is anonymous: totally unlinked from your name. Have you ever thought why this is done or why it's important? Because someone could use your choice of political affiliation against you, even to attack you, as used to be the case in the early days when voting was not anonymous.
Have Christians been persecuted once identified for having different beliefs? Extremely much so. There has been persecution against Christians for the first few hundred years after its inception, hundreds of years during the Inquisition, and unfortunately it has continued today in many places where Christians are in the minority.
The worst thing about information is that once it's out, you can't take it back, and it gets used for their purposes not yours.
To gain a more fearless, and therefore more total, promotion and exposure of truth: you much less need to worry about offending evildoers and what they might do. This is much more important than at first appears, because a primary function of a good church is to be a fountain of truth: if you can't get the truth here, where can you reliably get it: news agencies supported by corporate advertising dollars and/or government funding?
To avoid the temptation and control of government tax incentives. There is a tremendous tax incentive in some countries for charities which register with the government for no income tax on what donations they bring in, and a tax deduction or credit of some kind to everyone who donates to them. It is a big incentive to bring in much more money than would otherwise happen, and keep it in the ministry. But there is a price. The word register alone starts with regis which meals to rule. By registering with the government you are submitting to them as our master. That's why many Chinese churches have suffered persecution because they would not register. Once you take the incentive, they can threaten to take it away if you don't run the show the way they say, or without them saying a word to you specifically, you might find yourself self-censoring your ministry to avoid offending them and losing the incentive. I've seen one large Christian ministry disappear after the government took away their tax-exemption status for being 'polititcal'. If we stay anonymous we avoid this problem entirely.
To view everyone who comes with equal value, because we don't know who they are in the real world. Their social status, gender, appearance, etc won't be a factor in how we welcome and deal with them.
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