Despite dangers, Middle East Christians express hope

The position of Christians in the Middle East appears today more tenuous than ever."[T]here is now a serious risk that Christianity will disappear from its biblical heartlands," said Rupert Shortt in a recent report for the British think tank Civitas, citing estimates that "between a half and two-thirds of Christians in the region have left or been killed over the past century."Shortt's report, entitled Christianophobia (PDF here), does not hold Christians blameless for some of the grief … [Read more...]

Islamist constitution spells trouble for Egypt’s Christians

Egypt has approved a new, pro-Islamist constitution, and while Christians prepare to celebrate the Nativity of Christ they and other minorities foresee bleak and repressive days ahead.Voter turnout in the two-stage nationwide referendum was reportedly limited, and Christians were particularly underrepresented, "as low as 7% in some areas," according to one report.Intimidation by Islamists kept many from the polls. In one instance, an estimated 50,000 pro-constitution marchers swept through … [Read more...]

Exposing China’s newest crackdown on Christians

China is none-too-comfortable with Christians, and a newly released government document reveals a deeply ingrained bunker mentality about outside religious influence, especially in the country's universities."Resisting foreign use of religion to infiltrate institutes of higher education and preventing campus evangelism is an important and imperative/urgent/pressing strategic task," says the document, which was issued by the Communist Party Central Committee's General Office.Obtained and … [Read more...]

Pray for Egypt’s Christians

Egyptians will vote on a new constitution tomorrow.Newly enthroned Pope Tawadros II has so far sought to keep the church disentangled from politics, though he is encouraging his flock to "go and vote."Coptic Christians, who make up only 10 percent of the Egyptian population, are understandably fearful the outcome. The new pro-Islamist government has little regard for religious freedoms, and opposition groups believe the new constitution will further enshrine discriminatory … [Read more...]

The true state of Christian persecution in Iran

I posted Friday about religious persecution in several countries, particularly Syria, Iran, and North Korea.An Iranian reader objected to the way I had characterized the situation in Iran. I responded to his comment but think it would be good for readers to see this material directly, rather than allowing it to get overlooked in the comments.As I mention in Friday's post, the UN has expressed concern that over 300 Christians have been arrested since 2010 and that churches are being … [Read more...]

Christians under attack in Syria, Iran, N. Korea

"O Lord . . . for thy sake I bear reproach." --Jeremiah 15.15An Algerian Christian faces five years in prison for the crime of sharing his faith with a Muslim. Authorities claim that Karim Siaghi insulted Mohammad, something he denies.His appeal is being heard in Oran, a costal city just 600 miles away from where Augustine once presided as bishop. There has been a lot of history a between that moment and this, much of it going against Christians, but for me that geographic realization … [Read more...]

Prayers of the persecuted church

“'For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.' Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” --Romans 8.36-37On November 4 this year Christians gather to pray for their suffering brothers and sisters. The annual International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church provides a time to lift up believers who suffer deprivation, torture, and death for confessing Christ.Martyrdom has been a part of Christian witness … [Read more...]