I try not to duplicate material found on other blogs here at Patheos, but Mark Shea posted a powerful and important video from John Allen, Jr. on the global persecution of Christians, and it deserves the widest possible distribution. I’ve read John Allen for a long time, and always admired his work, if not the publication for which he writes. He’s the best reporter on church matters in America. He has put together a long, detailed presentation explaining that Christians are far and away the most persecuted religious group on the planet. This isn’t even counting the current unpleasantness in America, which is pretty minor-league stuff compared to what most Christians face.
The big takeaway number is 80%. Of all instances of religious persecution in the world, 80% are direct against Christians. Next time you hear some whinging nonsense about the horrible way Muslims are treated in America (the most tolerant, least racist nation in the world), try to keep that number in mind, because those 80% aren’t people made to feel uncomfortable for wearing a burka, or subject to extra scrutiny at the airport.
Nor are they people facing mere curtailments of their religious liberty as form of election year political gamesmanship, as we are seeing with the HHS contraception mandate. Our problems here in America certainly are serious by our high standards of absolute religious freedom, but they are of a considerably lesser order than being shot, stabbed, assaulted, beaten, jailed, repressed, or blown up. It’s an important reality check. I imagine the HHS mandate debate would seem almost quaint to an Egyptian Christian who is facing the destruction of a church founded by St. Mark. We should keep that in mind, and adjust our rhetoric accordingly.
Ancient Christian groups throughout the Middle East are being annihilated, many of them due to our bumbling military adventurism. And it’s not just the Middle East: places where Christianity is not only ascendant but dominant also see violent persecution against Christians.
This is long, but never dull, and full of hard facts and specific anecdotes outlining the seriousness of this issue. I always point out to my students that the 20th century was the century of martyrs. More Christians were killed for being Christian in the 20th century than in the previous 19 centuries combined. Tragically, the 21st century will almost certainly be worse.