A recent John Zmirak article suggested, in the words of its title, “If we reject Trump, we may be inviting persecution.”

So there it is. We’ve seen threats of all manner of other things against any who might determine not to defile themselves by supporting Trump. We’ve been warned that gun confiscation, unlimited abortion, and massive negative shifts in everything from demographics to the Supreme Court are all assured if, for whatever reason, we refuse to do whatever might be necessary to prevent the dreaded Hillary Clinton from becoming president. If nothing else will do it, we are to be brought to vote for Trump out of fear.

All this would be more impressive to me if I hadn’t heard this kind of thing in almost every presidential election since 1976. Yes, 1976. I remember people saying we probably wouldn’t have another free election if Carter won. Well, Carter was definitely a bad president, but I think the elections now are about as free as they were then.

Fear is not a new tactic for Republicans (or Democrats, for that matter). Over the years, the Republican Party has tried to compensate for the fact that most of its presidential nominees have been, at best, uninspiring to its own rank-and-file voters by painting their Democratic opponents as something across between Joseph Stalin and Freddie Krueger. The worse the Republican nominee, the more lurid must the Democrat be portrayed. When the Republicans actually had a good candidate, this wasn’t as necessary. Thus during the campaigns of the excellent Ronald Reagan, we saw positive Republican ads about “Morning in America.” On the other hand, when George H. W. Bush was running, we saw scary ads about Willie Horton.

It wasn’t just that the Democrat was scary though. We were assured that he was absolutely fatal. We heard, “The country can’t take four more years . . .” and “We can’t afford . . .” and “This is the most crucial election of our lifetime,” and, at least informally, “This may be our last free election.” We also heard, “This is not the election to stand on your principles!” and “This time we’re going to have to hold our noses and vote for . . .” Right. Been there. Done that. Got the sore nose. Somehow, if you listen to the Republican Party, it never seems to be time to stand on principle. And now we have a Republican nominee vastly worse than all who have gone before.

Don’t get me wrong. The Democratic presidents since 1976–Carter, Clinton, and Obama–have been among our worst, but the country survived. I’m not a prophet or the son of a prophet, and I don’t know what will happen if Hillary Clinton should win the election any more than I know what will happen if Donald Trump wins it, but I’m guessing the country’s survival chances are about as good either way.

But what about that persecution? Zmirak didn’t say how he thinks Clinton will manage it. I would suggest that she will not be able to do as much damage as she would like. She will probably continue the trend to toward low-grade persecution that has prevailed under Obama. That may not be a great comfort, but neither is it cause for panic. It’s certainly a weak argument for abandoning our principles.

And Donald Trump isn’t going to help. The main area of persecution in America today is the homosexual lobby’s campaign to force people actively to show approval of sinful acts, specifically, same-sex “marriage.” Trump said we should accept the Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision. He said Christian bakers should make wedding cakes for same-sex “weddings.” He had pro-homosexual businessman Peter Theil speak at his convention, and both he and Theil implied Republicans should accept same-sex “marriage.” In his meeting with evangelical leaders, Trump evaded questions about whether he would strive to protect freedom of religion in relation to same-sex “marriage.” In short, Trump, if elected, would be no help at all against persecution of Christians.

But suppose it were true that Hillary Clinton was going to accelerate America’s march toward religious persecution faster than Trump would. I don’t believe that, but let’s suppose for a minute it were true. Should we do wrong because we’re afraid of persecution? Isn’t it usually possible for anyone to escape persecution simply by abandoning his principles? If we were now to abandon our principles and vote for Trump out of fear of persecution, wouldn’t the mere threat of that persecution already have done its job?

Yes, people are trying to scare us into voting for Trump. People will try to scare you into a lot of things if they think it will work. Don’t let them. As Stonewall Jackson said, “Never take counsel of your fears.”