The Modern-Day Persecution of Christians

Recent surveys are indicating that the fastest growing religion in the world is Christianity. This remarkable growth is on a particularly clear display in Africa and Asia, where there's a shortage of churches and seminaries which can’t be built fast enough to accommodate the need. It is especially important that christians of the world become cognizant of this state of affairs, for with the rise of secularism and the fall-off in church attendance in Europe, Canada, Australia, and America, one can easily assume that Christianity is in a state of permanent decline, but it is quiet the contrary as a matter of fact.

But other studies carry the dark truth that the fastest-growing religion in the world is also the most persecuted. Again, this might surprise many westerns in the post-September 11, who presume that it is the western world which is most targeted, but in fact christianity was the main "brand" or reason behind the killing of innocents in New York, Madrid and London. Bin Laden himself said in one of his video appearances that Al Qaeda's aim was to attack the US interests and the "Nassara"  (Christians in Arabic). All over the world, and particularly in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, Christians are, by far, the most threatened communities. Indeed, Vatican research shows that 75% of those killed around the world for religious reasons are Christians.

Persecution of Christians started since the early days of Christianity,
under the Roman Empire

Who can forget the horrendous attack on the Church of Our Lady of Salvation in Baghdad in late 2010? Islamist militants burst into the church while Mass was in progress and proceeded to open fire indiscriminately on men, women and children. As they finished up their grisly work, the killers found themselves trailed by a toddler who asked plaintively, “Why are you doing this?” In time, they turned on the child and killed him. In the wake of that assault, huge numbers of Catholics and other Christians left their country.

Estimates are that in the last ten years somewhere between 600 thousand and one million Christians have been forced to flee Iraq. In Saudi Arabia, no Christian is allowed to worship publicly, and no church of any kind can be built. In Egypt, no construction permit has been granted for a single church to be built in the last 30 years for the 10 million Egyptian Copts. Many were cheered by the “Arab Spring” which saw the expulsion of dictators from Libya, Yemen, and Egypt and the shaking of the Assad regime in Syria, but Christians in those countries are far from encouraged. The secularist proclivities of the dictators at least allowed for a rough toleration of non-Islamic religions; thus the collapse of the tyrants has made possible the tyranny of the Islamic majority, resulting in an aggressive campaign against Christianity.

Recently, Egyptian Copts, who form one of the oldest Christian communities in the world, were publicly assaulted in the streets of Cairo by representatives of the Islamic brotherhood. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that an Egyptian Christian mother of two young girls was blithely informed by her Muslim physician that, according to the prescriptions of Sharia law, her daughters would have to be circumcised. Convinced that the government would no longer protect them, mother and children fled the country.

Also recently in Nigeria, the Nigerian president declared a state of emergency in sections of his country, due to a series of unprovoked attacks on Christian churches. Boko Haram, a militant Islamist sect, has claimed credit for the assaults, including attacks on Christmas day that left 42 christians dead.

One of the most troubling stories of Christian persecution comes out of Pakistan, where fierce anti-blasphemy laws are in effect. A Christian woman named Asia Bibi was imprisoned on trumped-up charges of speaking against the prophet Muhammad. Despite protests from around the world, she was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death. Currently she languishes in prison, awaiting her execution and praying for her jailers.

It is true that Christianity is the most tolerant religion with regards to other religions, but the fact remains that as time goes on, Christians are by far the most victimized religious community in the world. In Pakistan, Nigeria, Egypt, and Iraq, ordinary Christians routinely risk their lives simply by declaring their faith and worshiping according to their lights. They are walking in the footsteps of great christian martyrs such as Stephen, Peter and Paul who understood the Word saying:"Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven" (Matthew 5:11,12).

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