You want to really talk about Christian Persecution?

We talk about it, and it’s a serious issue, but how much do we really know about the reality of Christian persecution, and how we folks in the pews need to be prepared to help each other as people are “paying blood for their fidelity to the Gospel”?

Watch this masterful, balanced, stunningly-well done presentation by the great and knowledgeable journalist John Allen, delivered to the 2012 Los Angeles Religious Education Congress. Mark Shea has linked to it and so has Thomas L. McDonald — normally, with two bloggers linking, I would not jump on board, but this speech is too good to be missed, and jump I must:

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The whole talk is great — you’ll be hooked, but do stick around for the Q&A wherein Allen reveals who challenged him to bring this up, and why the mainstream media is really not interested.

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  • Diane

    He spoke at our parish mission this year and his book with Dolan is next up for our book club.

  • Katherine Harms

    I would love to view this video, but it is not an option for me. My internet access is via my phone service, and I almost never have enough bandwidth for a video, certainly not for a 1 1/2 hour video. (It takes a half hour wait to load a 5-minute video.)Is there any place to obtain a transcription of this speech?

  • J. R. P.

    There are spiritual threats and physical threats, spiritual persecutions and physical persecutions: it’s not just against ‘religious freedom’.

    I appreciate the wide-ranging nature of red martyrdom in the modern world, but if you think the physical stuff has a primacy, the arguments presented here will be more compelling.

    I’ll go further: if the spiritual death by the wealth of mortal sin in so overwhelmingly many in the US and around the world is vastly less important than the physical death of the blessed, you might want to double-check your priorities and renew your appreciation for how big a deal sin actually is – and double-check your understanding of he lessons of Church history.

    That said, those around those who undergo martyrdom are also under grave spiritual threat. But to consider that this overshadows the spiritual danger we have in the US is to misunderstand both kinds of danger.

    You also have to ignore the millions of murders a year in the human abattoirs of Planned Parenthood and like organizations all over the world – 1.2 million+ a year in the United States alone – in order for this to be a commensurate deal.

    For those of us who hold a soteriological position very much away from universalism, we abhor both spiritual murder and physical murder, and by the numbers, spiritual murder outweighs the physical, even though the physical by the numbers is enormous. We would further suggest that it is prevenient spiritual death that leads to express itself as murder by bomb, gun, scalpel and poison. Physical religious persecution is bad, but the killings of an innocent because they are an inconvenience is worse.

    Other notes, picky but important to rational thought, as I’ve been listening to the speech:

    There’s no such thing as an ‘empirical certainty’: that’s philosophically wrong conceptually. Not to undermine the fact of them.

    We aren’t just in a ‘global community of saints’ but a ‘universal communion of Saints from all times’.

    1/10 of the effort of debating the new mass – I don’t know who spent any significant amount of time debating it – in the current political climate will do precisely nothing except make a few people feel better about themselves.

    “Traditionalist Catholics” – dude, seriously? Those people are reported hold a ‘mix of Catholicism and indigenous practices’ – they’re more like Voodoo. I’m looking at the reports of it, I can’t find whether the pastor is legitimate and in communion with his Bishop, or not: all the articles that come up have more heat than light, arguably astroturf because most of the articles are copy-pasted.

    You can’t just put every murder of a missionary in the field under the category for Martyrdom, that’s just silly and an ahistorical standard. Death in “odium fidei” is the right category, and includes, for instance, a death specifically defending a principle of the faith like chastity, or a death because one is doing charitable work (but not despite it). For those, you can say they lived a life of white martyrdom – no problem there if true. You can’t say they had a death of red martyrdom. You can’t just make up new definitions, especially if by it the term is rendered, in effect, meaningless in contrast with history. _That_ reads to me as an imposition of a political ideology.

    There aren’t really tribes that I’ve ever seen: there really are the faithful and everybody else. If you’re honest with yourself, you’re recognize that the faithful pretty much get along together even if we have radically different prudential judgments on how to respond to different topics. (He argues at the very end ‘we have been evangelized by culture’ – I don’t find that amongst the faithful, they seem to have made a motion to explicitly reject the culture. I agree with the fact of the bubble, but being in liberal Massachusetts, I am aware of how deeply pernicious it is, being in reaction to it as I learned to embrace the fatih, and I feel John might not.)

    Also, the Vatican and the Church’s interest is in the ‘defense of the rights of the Church and the natural rights of people’, not ‘defense of religious freedom’ the way the moderns think of it. Although I don’t mind the expression as a thumbnail, it is an incorrect category.

    “R&D wing” he advocates in an answer sounds just a little too much like the invalid, modernist sense of ‘development of doctrine’. If he had said ‘apostolate’ anywhere in there, I’d be on board.

    Look, I don’t think Allen’s a bad guy, but it’s a pretense for him to claim to represent some kind of a ‘reasonable middle’(or a ‘balanced guy’) when he’s so trivially shown wrong in terms of the relationship of competing truths, for instance the spiritual to temporal as I mentioned above, even on the temporal he distinctly ignores the body count. It’s sort of like the big 4 in major media claiming the same ground – I’m sure they believe it, I’m also sure they’re wrong.

    And,what’s the action item here (I wrote this before we got to the QA section about it)? I can pray (and I do), I can give to Churches in need (I have and can reasonably do more), I vote for politicians who are more likely to make some kind of a response, I’ll raise awareness/blog stories that I read and think derserve more. But, unless you are going to give me leave to reform the Militant Orders (I’ll be happy to), I’m out of options, and I can only do what I do already: evangelize that part of the world that is within my power, by act and speech, ordering rightly all things I have power over, including my conscience. I suppose I could fast a bit more often.

    Anything else reads to me as jawboning and hand-wringing, a pretence of effort with a pretence of efficacy like most ‘social justice activism’, and as we see at the beginning and end of the speech, these facts are not being used for its own end, but for partisan effect: be nice, we’re told, let us alone in our errors and then we can work together, we’ll go along to get along, kumbaya, and everything will somehow magically work out okay. Nonsense: reform yourself, first, being as you are in most control, live the gospel, and we then reform the world one person at a time, by all good means, including our martydoms (white or red).

    (Old guy at the end hit it, and his response I think shows precisely the flaws of his reasoning, ‘an equivalent share of energy’.)

  • Chuck

    Make that 3 bloggers previously linking: I first saw this on Fr. Z’s blog.

    But, as you say, it’s a great talk and this topic really is worth the extra attention.

    [Actually I meant Patheos bloggers! :-) But you're quite right. -admin]

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  • Mark Greta

    It is interesting to see those coming up for questions. This looks like a gathering of occupy LA. Father Z calls this conference the Three Days of Darkness for all its open dissent over the years.

    But as to the content; I think it is tragic that Christians are being killed around the globe. I think it is important to identify the killers of Christians around the world. Most of them are either drug dealers or government agents as in most of South America or are Islamist almost everywhere else. So when he talks about tribes, that is certainly a factor in their deaths. But evil when it has risen to the level of these type of killings are not going to stop with what John Allen is calling for because none of them would respond to exposure when if fact the very act of terrorism loves exposure to as many people as possible. that is what make terror work. You see massive violence and you stay away. Tourism drops in the Holy Land as violence increases. What it takes to stop this form of evil is someone with a big stick to take out the evil violent folks. Most of Allen is talking about is designed to make the person sending the emails of support feel better as if they have done something. I think of this as a typical liberal response. Remember Obama was going to end all wars by talking to Iran and Korea or the taliban. How has that worked out? Backing an army to really get serious about fighting the evil by name, Islamist and their supporters in the Islamic community and those teaching children radical hatred.

    When Bonhoeffer was trying to arrange the various churchs in the early days of the nazi’s to organize and do in essence what Allen is talking about, was before he had power tightly in control. Later, Bonhoeffer signed on as part of the assassination of Hitler and his buddies in power. The justification was that if he stayed, Germany would be destroyed with defeat and if Hitler won, he would destroy Christianty and the west into a very evil state. Evil if let fester and grow in power needs to be taken out by force. Because we played nice and did not want to say Islam is evil, we allowed the islamist to be in control and to spread that evil faith with its sharia and its terrorism built into the koran. When Germany was defeated, the nazi party was outlawed forever. When Japan was defeated the military control of the country was eliminated and blocked from having power over the country. We should have done this with Islam in its radical forms for it is far more than a religion, but a dominant part of the very core violence they teach their kids.

    Where non violence and shame can work is early on and with countries like England and America as shown by Ghandi and MLK. Showing blacks being beaten and firehosed made a difference in America. However, in Islamic countries, the terrorist film their actions and try to get everybody they can to show it on national news. The Koran needs a new testament if it is ever going to be a religion of peace where war is only needed to stop grave violence and threat. I think this talk really does nothing but push the normal liberal solution to make themselves feel good.

  • Gordon Jewett

    I watched the entire video. I am saddened by the death’s of God’s children. It is amazing that as follower’s of Christ, we, at this point in time, are still being killed because of our dedication to Christ. But, that is what it is. We can take it to be exactly what He said it would be. If we believe, there is a time and place that we may be called to attest to His truths. With our lives. May God have mercy on us and on the entire world. He Himself called on His Father to forgive those who do what they do not know what they are doing. Be it calling for forcing support to end the lives of the unborn, or those who willingly kill those who profess Christ in opposition to Islam.
    Peace and God Bless

  • Manny

    Well that was awareness raising. One hears of disparate Christian persecutions here and there in the news, but I have not seen someone put it all together like that. We have a problem. While I have heard the Papacy mention it, I think they need to be much more vocal. On the other hand, being vocal might make the situation worse. But there needs to be some sort of game plan to make this a worldwide issue.

  • Noah

    I completely agree with his idea that people should be seen as martyrs who die for the faith regardless of the motives of their killers, but I’m more than a little annoyed with and confused about his assertion that the murder of a Christian during a robbery is part of the war on Christians? I’m in full agreement that there really does seem to be a war on Christians going on, but to include these cases where the murderers were possibly not even aware that their victims were Christians, and/or where they frankly didn’t care, just seems to hurt his credibility. Again, martyrs yes, but casualties of a war, no. Potential allies outside of the faith are going to be much less likely to take him seriously when he makes this claim.

    Maybe this shouldn’t be what I’m focusing on, but I was already somewhat aware of the situation before watching this. If anyone could explain his reasoning here I would be very grateful. He always seems to be such a reasonable (as was said, “balanced,” etc.) guy, even possibly to a fault at times, I don’t understand why he’s not seeing this as, well, unreasonable.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    I’m not sure, Noah—but I do see that Christians who are murdered, and attacked and robbed, could be seen as martyrs—to the rising tide of violence that is engulfing our cities, and reaching downright satanic proportions. It could be an exaggeration; on the other hand, maybe he just want to point out how dire things have become in our society.

    As for any possible non-Christian allies—well, if this one comment, by this one man, is enough to make them not take worldwide Christian persecution seriously (a fact which can be easily verified simply by following the news, or typing “Worldwide Christian persecution” into any search engine), I suspect they weren’t much incined to be allies in the first place.

    The day is coming—and sooner than many think—when all those of good will are going to have to choose, and stop nitpicking over words and the like.

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