As anxious as many Christians are about religious freedom in America, nothing we’ve experienced—and God willing, never will—comes close to the brutal persecution of Christians abroad. The stunning extent of this persecution is documented in Times Literary Supplement religion editor Rupert Shortt’s evenhanded and unsettling new book, Christianophobia: A Faith Under Attack.
Some 200 million Christians—two-thirds of the entire population of the United States—are now suffering oppression, even to the point of death, on account of their faith. Yet, if you ask the average person about it, they probably wouldn’t know anything about Christianity’s modern martyrdom, much less know where and why it’s occurring.
Speaking to Shortt last week, we discussed the crisis, and he underscored the complexities and difficulties involved in overcoming it.
This story is being downplayed, he said, because of subliminal reasons, both secular and religious. On the secular side, much of the media has disdain for Christianity, and considers it not only regressive, but dangerous—an attitude broadly shared by intellectuals, academics, and celebrities. Christianity is mistakenly seen as an exclusively “Western” religion, and part of the West’s assumed imperialism.
Given that perspective, who wants to be seen openly sympathizing with such an unfashionable lot as practicing Christians? Shortt calls this “the blind spots that can affect bien-pensant opinion-formers.” Add to this the latter’s reluctance to question any aspect of Islamic culture (even though many reform-minded Muslims do); and the idea that Islamophobia is more intense and widespread than Christianophobia (even as human rights organizations document just the reverse), and you begin to understand the depths of the problem.
And yet, paradoxically, it is Christian theology itself that also explains the current situation. Christianity’s teachings on love, humility, forbearance, and forgiveness create a non-confrontational ethos—which is a genuine strength of persecuted Christians—but also makes it more challenging to communicate their plight.
Here is Rupert Shortt in the Telegraph: The problems faced by Christians are not by any means restricted to the Muslim world.
Take India, where minorities – Muslims included – are menaced by Hindu extremists who consider the monotheistic traditions to be unwelcome imports.
Elsewhere, the culprits include not only Communists, but also Buddhist nationalists in countries such as Burma and Sri Lanka. The scale of Communist intolerance is a matter of record. Curbs on freedom of worship in countries including China, Vietnam and Cuba are draconian and sometimes exceptionally sadistic.
Just this week. Suspected Islamists kill 10 Christians in Nigeria with guns and machetes after burning down their houses. Boko Haram the Salafist Islamist movement which literally means "Western education is sinful" continues on its rampage against Christians, killing over 450 in the first six months of 2012.
More details of persecution at the Bulletin of Christian persecution Oct 30-Nov 30, 2012 and Persecution.org and Christian Solidarity Worldwide and Aid to the Church in Need, a Catholic charity under the guidance of the Holy Father.
Despite persecution, the Church is growing. Theologian says China to have largest Christian population within the next two decades.
During a recent book launch in Rome, a noted theologian ( Harvey Cox, professor at the Harvard Divinity School) said that China will be home to the majority of the world's Christians within the next two decades.Posted by Jill Fallon at December 6, 2012 10:31 AM | Permalink
“There are two world phenomena happening right now,” he added. “The first is that we can't recognize Christianity as a western religion anymore and the second is that countries with the fastest growing number of Christians don't have a Christian culture or traditions.”