Christianophobia

Some find a suspect guilty of something in a Muslim and such persons are infected with Islamophobia, while those who find Christians suspect of covert political and religious corruption are infected with Christianophobia. There are those who, because of power and dominant culture and, let this be clear, connection to the USA, think whatever is said about Christianity is probably deserved, but such a posture is an ideology. I find the work of Rupert Shortt, Christianophobia: A Faith Under Attack, entirely reasonable. More than that, his reporting of hostility toward, laws against, hypocrisy toward, and persecution of Christians is the story of a sickness at work in the world.

Why are these stories not more well known in the USA? 

Western liberals ought to know better, but for some reason they find Christianophobia — though they probably despise the term — predictable, more or less deserving, though they tip their hat to the injustices. If the same injustices were shown to Buddhists or Muslims they’d be up in arms. That, too, is an ideological posture rather than a genuine commitment to justice. Protest against the injustices against Christians has become, for many, politically incorrect. Sometimes there is the careless shrug, other times a suspicion that the story is hard to confirm (but who advertises their persecutions with reports blow by blow?), yet others the persecuted Christians are but the “detritus of empire”, but far more often there is a tolerance waiting out the sad stories until something really grabs the attention of the major media.

Shortt’s book sketches — he’s a journalist with a flare for finding the good story and the right concretions — opposition to Christianity inEgypt, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Turkey, Nigeria, Indonesia, India, Burma, China, Vietnam and North Korea, The Holy Land, and Six Countries at a Glance. The book is too much a chronicle but, so far as chronicles go, a good one. He sketches concrete details of persecution and opposition — sometimes profound hypocrisies in the government when pretentious claims of tolerance and freedom of religion are made while those claims mask relentless pressure, persecution and vicious punishments. In each chp he finds the uniqueness of that countries laws and religions and ways of pressuring Christians, focuses often on laws against conversion away from Islam, and fleshes each out with stories — many of them sad.

For me the highlights in the book were the sketches of Pakistan and Turkey.

In Pakistan… Aasia Bibi (or Aasia Noreen), a Christian, was sent to prison for blasphemy in 2009. Working in a field she was asked to get some water but some refused to drink it because she was unclean as a non-Muslim. She was attacked for insulting the Prophet. At first the government explored the case and the investigative body was headed by Shabhaz Bhatti, a Catholic, who fatally shot by militants. Bhatti had proposed penalties for unjustifiable accusations, but these were deplored by conservatives. In Nov 2010 Aasia Bibi was sentenced to death. A man who reported the facts, Salmaan Taseer, was murdered. The govt yielded to the pressure to tighten blasphemy laws.

Shortt’s book is filled with story after story not unlike this one.

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than fifty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com/ Lothar Lorraine

    In France liberal politicians are also hostile to Christianity in a way they are not against other religions.
    In a very similar way they combat very severely racism from white people but not racism against white people:
    http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com/category/anti-white-racism/

    This is the politically correct Zeitgeist-

    However the French people are really disgusted by that and have become very Islamophobic while having neutral or even positive feelings about Christianity tough they all remain agnostic or atheist.

    Lovely greetings from Europe.

    Lothars Sohn – Lothar’s son

    http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com

  • Jakeithus

    Christianity is seen as the dominant religion in the West and as having a position of power (although I think this is often overstated). Because of this, it can be hard to see Christians in other parts of the world as not being in positions of power, as it doesn’t line up with what they see as their personal experiences.

    You’re right when you say it is an ideological posture. For many Western liberals, Christianity is the enemy that uses its position of power to negatively impact those who are less powerful, meaning it must be opposed. By validating the idea that Christians in other parts of the world are experiencing injustice, it might give more power to the Christians in the west, so it’s easier to just ignore it.

    Unfortunately, there are certain aspects of Western Christians who have encouraged this by correlating the minor bigotry and persecution that takes place in North America and Europe with the far greater crimes committed elsewhere.

  • http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com/ Lothar Lorraine

    Yep and for Europeans it is much harder to understand the rage of American militant atheists because we don’t experience many detrimental influences of Christian movements on our continent.

    Lovely greetings from continental Europe.

    Lothars Sohn – Lothar’s son

    http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com

  • Tom F.

    “Why are these stories not more well known in the U.S.”

    Highlighting stories of persecution of Christians in the rest of the world is a tricky business. First, one has to make sure that one isn’t perceived as being simply a cheerleader for Christians. If one is working in the mainstream press, this is a balancing act. Consider your average reader at a mainstream or progressive site: maybe they will be sophisticated enough to discern that the author is not simply trying to help his or her “tribe”, but maybe they aren’t.

    On the other hand, conservatives love talking about these stories, but in some ways, their persistent cries of persecution here in the US have probably made it less likely that mainstream/progressive outlets cover those stories. Its not logical, but if “persecution of Christians” becomes a political/social theme in the US for conservatives, you can bet that mainstream/liberals will not want to get anywhere near that theme in the rest of the world. Sort of what Jakeithus is saying, but lets be honest- at least some conservatives have exploited “persecution of Christians” for political gain, so its not just in liberals’ head’s that “validating persecution…might give more power to Christian in the West”.

    The truth is that “persecution of _________” is very, very difficult not to end up connected to political ideology of some kind. Certainly, highlighting persecution of US minorities in foreign countries is about reinforcing the goodness and rightness of (classically) liberal values of tolerance and so forth. Persecution of US minorities or even groups that have no presence in the US are highlighted because its a simpler story, without all the layers of US complication. Very few people will think that a mainstream US journalist is secretly advocating the advancement of Islam by covering the persecution of Muslims in the US (scarily- some will!).

    As to “ideological”, I was praying with some folks for Syria, and I found it incredibly difficult to pray without seeming to be connected with a particular political plan. Did I pray for the persecuted “Syrian people”- or does that mark me as politically advocating for non-intervention? Did I pray for persecuted Christians- or does that mark me (as a Christian) as more likely to advocate for intervention to protect those Christians? Does that mark me as only caring about Christians? In that space, the only non-”ideological” prayer I could come up with was to simply ask Jesus to come into that situation. But!– certainly this is a very “ideological” prayer– the political system it advocates is one where Jesus is lord.

    In short, it might be as much about the desire to avoid being seen as “ideological” as it is about being ideological that leads to the dearth of coverage on persecution.

  • Jakeithus

    ” Sort of what Jakeithus is saying, but lets be honest- at least some
    conservatives have exploited “persecution of Christians” for political
    gain, so its not just in liberals’ head’s that “validating
    persecution…might give more power to Christian in the West””

    I totally agree, it’s an unfortunate reality that Christians in the west, by overstating the “persecution” one experiences here, damages not only their own claims, but the much more legitimate ones from the parts of the world where it is a serious problem.

    It’s identity politics at its worst, as each side points to the worst possible cases to try and gain sympathy, whether the comparison the the actual situation for the majority is justified or not.

  • http://wildbohemia.tumblr.com/ Tim H

    Hi Lothar.
    I live in France (Aube) too. But I haven’t had the same impression as you. In my experience of evangelical churches over here, there is a lot of barely concealed Islamophobia (and sometimes even racism towards North Africans). Racism against white people may be a reality, but it is minor compared to what people from African origins face, especially when it comes to job opportunies.

    It’s true however that liberals (which I am myself, to a certain extent) are often rather hostile to Christianity, which is very sad.

  • Tom F.

    Okay, great. So more like: “Exactly what Jatheitus is saying…” :)

    Of course, at the end of the day, whether we are conservative or liberal, there are still Christians dying out there. We should all be more aware, and books/stories that help us remember to pray and peacefully advocate for our brothers and sisters as well as any human being who experiences religious persecution are good and useful.


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