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.