“Not only are Christians more persecuted than any other faith group, but ever-increasing numbers are experiencing the very worst forms of persecution.”
Sadly, this article has caused me to add a new tag to my list: “Persecution of Christians.”
Incredibly, there are still those who believe that Christians “have a persecution complex,” that we are the ones doing the “persecuting,” and if anyone does attack us, it’s no more than we deserve. Well, it’s not a persecution “complex” if we really are being persecuted – and we are indeed, as this report makes plain.
“The persecution and genocide of Christians across the world is worse today “than at any time in history,” and Western governments are failing to stop it, a report from a Catholic organization said.
“The study by Aid to the Church in Need said the treatment of Christians has worsened substantially in the past two years compared with the two years prior, and has grown more violent than any other period in modern times…
“The report examined the plight of Christians in China, Egypt, Eritrea, India, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria and Turkey over the period lasting from 2015 until 2017. The research showed that in that time, Christians suffered crimes against humanity, and some were hanged or crucified.
“The report found that Saudi Arabia was the only country where the situation for Christians did not get worse, and that was only because the situation couldn’t get any worse than it already was.”
The Newsweek article goes on to add that
“The report put special focus on Middle Eastern countries like Iraq and Syria, where the authors argued Christians would have been entirely wiped out if it weren’t for military action and the assistance of Christian humanitarian organizations, like Aid to the Church in Need.
“The defeat of Daesh [the Islamic State militant group] and other Islamists in major strongholds of the Middle East offers the last hope of recovery for Christian groups threatened with extinction,” the report found. “Many would not survive another similar violent attack.”
Nor is the violence limited to the Middle East.
“In Africa, the report focused on countries like Sudan, where the government ordered that churches be destroyed, and Nigeria, where ISIS-affiliated groups like Boko Haram have led a surge in attacks on Christians. In Eritrea, hundreds of Christians have been rounded up and imprisoned over the past year because of their faith.
“The report also documented numerous case studies in which Christians in countries such as India and Nigeria were murdered or beaten for practicing their faith.”
The majority of these crimes are – not surprisingly – perpetrated by Muslims, whether in the Middle East or Africa, with the addition (more surprisingly, to someone like myself who since my college days had believed the assertion that “polytheists are religiously tolerant”) of some militant Hindus in India.
It is true that the situation has not yet really reached the U.S., and is only beginning to impact Europe. But we are islands in the storm, and the sea is rising. What makes the situation even more alarming is that Western governments seem all too eager to welcome in large numbers of immigrants from many of the very regions and even countries where the problem is greatest.
I am moderately confident that it is true, as is always claimed, that the majority of these are peace-loving and non-violent. But I suspect the majority are basically peace-loving and non-violent in the countries where Christians are under violent attack, too. It doesn’t take a particularly large percentage of malefactors to cause a large problem!
And the cultural and religious milieu supports the militants, whether or not the majority of the population does. Do we really wish to import this problem into the West? I don’t!
As to the belief that Christians deserve to be persecuted for their actual or alleged crimes in the past – anyone who believes that is either sadly deluded, or mentally disturbed. Yes, it’s true that some Christians have committed some unfortunate and even terrible acts in the name of their faith, over the centuries. It’s called human nature… or, in Christian terms, sinfulness. And it is far from unique to Christianity!
As a faith, however, Christianity teaches love of one’s neighbor, and even for one’s persecutors (it is possible to love someone in principle while still using whatever means necessary to prevent them from harming oneself or others, so let us set aside the idea that a Christian must be a pacifist, immediately), in a way that few other religions – and certainly not Islam – does not.
And Christians have been in the forefront of movements to end slavery, seek peaceful relations between nations and peoples, and even to provide medical, agricultural, and other assistance to less-developed nations, engage in disaster relief, assist displaced persons, and many other such activities.
Indeed, one of the great ironies of the present crisis is that through its strong support of aid to the down-trodden, Christianity has been partially responsible for the population explosion in some parts of the world that are distinctly unfriendly to Christianity, and the West! But that, unfortunately, is a chance one takes when one is trying to be decent to other people.
But here again, the question arises: do we really want to welcome into our own nations people who are unfriendly to us, or whose cultures and value systems are alien, even inimical, to ours? Particularly in large numbers? A few here and there can be assimilated, or if they are not, are unlikely to cause much trouble. But en masse… well, the “no-go” zones appearing in a growing number of European cities should serve as a cautionary tale, in my opinion.
With respect to Christianity, and our Christian responsibility to love our neighbor, and welcome the stranger: as I have commented before, in the parable of the “Good Samaritan,” even that compassionate and benevolent individual did not welcome the person he helped into his own home. He set him up in an inn, and paid the innkeeper to nurse him back to health. Nor is there any indication that he continued to support him, once health was restored. These points should, I think, serve as a model for us!
Loving your neighbor as yourself starts with loving yourself: not to excess, but in a properly ordered fashion. And loving yourself includes having self-respect, without which it is unrealistic to expect anyone else to respect you, either. It also includes the willingness and ability to protect yourself, and those you love (by extrapolation including your nation and culture), from those who would harm or assault them. Anything else is not love, but a form of self-immolation.
And even if you are willing to sacrifice yourself for another – which, if done for the right reasons, can be praiseworthy (if done for the right reasons… otherwise, it’s just foolishness) – no one has the right to sacrifice others, or to fail to defend them if that is within one’s power. And beyond individuals, we have both a right and a responsibility under natural law – which is, after all, God’s law – to protect and defend our people and our heritage, that we might pass them on, undiminished, to our posterity.
Again, our responsibility to those who came before and to those who will come after (*) are factors which must be taken into account. We can sacrifice ourselves, and our own possessions, if we so choose; but we do not have the right to sacrifice others, or their possessions and patrimony.
(* Remember the famous “seven generations” of Native American lore? As in, whatever we do should be considered in light of seven generations? This refers to the effect of that action, or inaction, on our own generation, plus the three generations that came before us, and the three that will follow – that is to say, ourselves, our ancestors, and our descendants – that none be dishonoured. Something even those of us who are not Native Americans might profitably keep in mind!)
It is this collective, community-focused, social and cultural responsibility which is often missed or ignored by people who have been trained by our dysfunctional culture to believe that it’s all about me, and what I want. Charity really does begin at home, with our family and our immediate community; once they are cared for, protected, etc., then we can widen the circle – carefully and advisedly, and not beyond our means – outward. But if we help others at the expense of our own (family, people, community), that is not morally virtuous, it is morally vicious.
So, to conclude: this report, from Aid to the Church in Need, makes it clear that the persecution and genocide of Christians across the world is worse today “than at any time in history,” and that Western governments are failing to stop it. We need to do what we can, and pressure our governments to do what they can, to try to protect persecuted Christians world-wise – and we need to push back against the false claim that Christians are the persecutors, and not the persecuted.
But we also need to make sure that we are not importing the problem onto our own shores, and into our own cultures. We of the West cannot be a bastion for others if we are allowing ourselves to be undermined! We need to stand strong, and limit immigration to those who we can be confident will be assets, not liabilities; who support our values, and who will be a benefit, not a detriment, to our cultures.
And not solely for our own sakes: for all our faults, the Western world is the last, best hope for freedom and opportunity. We cannot take everyone in! But we can serve as an example, an inspiration, and (cautiously) as a resource. While it’s a mistake to confuse any earthly entity or institution with the Kingdom of God, we are the closest thing the secular world has to that “shining City on a hill” mentioned in Scriptures – and the closer we cleave to our Judeo-Christian patrimony, the brighter we shine. If our light has dimmed in recent times, it is because we have fallen away from that ideal.
Should the West ever fall entirely, the outlook for the rest of the world will be bleak and dark indeed.