The Ongoing Plight of Christians
In the CQ Researcher issue titled "Religious Persecution," dated November 21, 1997, Kenneth Jost highlighted the "well-documented cases of churches being bulldozed or burned down, clergy and lay leaders [being] arrested and imprisoned and clergymen being murdered by [Sudanese] government troops." In the 21 years since this article was printed, global Christian persecution has increased exponentially. The following is a small sampling of what Christians are facing, and the sad truth is that no one seems to be stopping the oppressors and punishing them.
- In Sweden, Muslim migrants often persecute Christian migrants, or immigrants who convert to Christianity. Thus, "Open Doors Deutschland documented 743 attacks on Christians in Germany in 2016, and German police documented another 100 in 2017. Similar violence plagues Christian refugees in Sweden, but the Scandinavian country has yet to issue an investigation. A survey published by Open Doors Sweden last year found that ... one hundred and twenty-three Christian asylum-seekers reported religiously motivated persecution, and 512 separate incidents. Christian refugees suffered 65 violent assaults, 55 death threats, 7 cases of sexual assault, along with instances of social exclusion, insults, contempt, and threats. More than half, 53 percent, said they had been violently attacked at least once. Almost half, 45 percent, reported receiving at least one death threat. More than three-quarters of those who faced such persecution were converts to Christianity, and almost all of the perpetrators were Muslim."
Open Door's top countries where Christians face the most persecution are:
- North Korea (94 points) – Christians and Christian missionaries are routinely imprisoned in labor camps.
- Afghanistan (93 points) – The government of this Muslim country does not recognize any of its citizens as Christian.
- Somalia (91 points) – The Catholic bishop of Mogadishu has described it as "not possible" to be a Christian in Somalia.
- Sudan (87 points) – The Muslim government has slated Christian churches for demolition.
- Pakistan (86 points) – Christians and other non-Muslims sit on death row, facing charges of blasphemy.
- Eritrea (86 points) – Only four religions are officially recognized (Sunni Islam and the Eritrean Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Evangelical Lutheran churches). Those belonging to other faiths are persecuted, and those of recognized faiths are routinely harassed by the government.
- Libya (86 points) – The government is reportedly training militants to attack Coptic Christians.
- Iraq (86 points) – Iraqi Christians have yet to return to their homelands after expulsion by ISIS.
- Yemen (85 points) – The ongoing political and humanitarian crisis has further squeezed Christians and other religious minorities, who already faced severe restrictions on practicing their faiths.
Jeff Simino at the National Review writes about minority religious groups who suffer in Iran. Thus, "the Iranian government continues to persecute religious minorities, including groups supposedly given special recognition by the country's constitution: Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians."
Raymond Ibrahim, chronicler of the status of Christians, assiduously documents what is happening to them. In fact, "[t]he Islamic world has the lion's share of Christian persecution; 38 of the 50 worst nations are Muslim-majority. In short, the overwhelming majority of persecution that these 215 million Christians experience around the world – especially the worst forms, such as rape and murder – occurs at the hands of Muslims."
Moreover, "[u]nlike the persecution of Christians in Communist nations, rooted to a particular regime, Muslim persecution of Christians is perennial, existential, and far transcends any ruler or regime. It unfortunately seems part and parcel of the history, doctrines, and socio-political makeup of Islam – hence its tenacity and ubiquity. It is a 'tradition.'" Ibrahim asserts that "those persecuting Christians come from a wide variety of racial, linguistic, cultural, and socio-economic backgrounds – from African, Arab, Asian, and Caucasian nations – and share little in common with one another, except for Islam," thus underscoring the source of the hatred.
On January 31, 2018, Jack Kerwick wrote, "[T]here was more violence against Christians recorded in Pakistan than anywhere else." As Islamists expand in the Philippines, Bangladesh, and Indonesia as well as Egypt, Nigeria, and Somalia, Christian oppression increases. In Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Azerbaijan, "with a grassroots revival of Islam" has come an increase in anti-Christian persecution.
Notwithstanding the entrenched Islamic hatred of Christians, "India and Nepal are two prominent illustrations of intense, anti-Christian Hindu nationalism. But, notably, in Myanmar and Sri Lanka, Buddhist nationalism is being used as an instrument of anti-Christian oppression as well."
Nathan Johnson documents that in February 2018 in Nigeria, Muslims continue attacks on Christians. In fact, "International Christian Concern (ICC) documented at least 32 attacks by Fulani militants on Christians, which killed over 95 people and destroyed dozens of villages. These attacks spanned 11 different states and killed nearly 100 Christians." With more than twice as many Christians killed this year than last year, there "is a clear uptick in attacks. Between January and February 2018, there have already been more than 270 Christians slaughtered by invading Fulani" (who share many beliefs with other West African Muslims).
Furthermore, "[t]his continued violence demonstrates either incompetence or complicity by the Nigerian military in these attacks. Villages that have been attacked are often within sight of military outposts or checkpoints. Despite this, the military has almost never successfully intervened and stopped an attack from causing overwhelming devastation."
Less obvious than the outright violence is the fact that "Islamists around the world are furthering their agenda through diplomatic and political action, as well as grassroots social efforts." Consequently, "sharia law has been 'peaceably' enacted into law" and with it the desire to expunge any faith of the infidel.
Thus, Ibrahim explains the draconian hardships imposed for centuries upon Copts and other religious groups by Muslim rulers prompted many to convert to Islam. Therefore, "nations such as Egypt which were about 95 percent Christian in the 7th century are today only about 10 percent." Acquiescing to dhimmi status and accepting life with few rights, they eventually converted to Islam "to find relief." Fifteenth-century anecdotes describe Muslims burning churches, slaughtering Christians, and enslaving their women and children. Besides being "physically purged, they were spiritually murdered – a slow-motion genocide," if you will. Negative conditions of life of coercion coupled with "social bondage and financial bondage" pressured many to convert to Islam.
And it continues to the present day.
In 2016, at the Hoover Institution, Ralph Peters wrote:
The genocide against Middle-Eastern Christians approaches its endgame, while Western leaders look away as resolutely as they ignored the Holocaust when it was happening. In time, there will be crocodile tears and, perhaps, a museum designed by an in-demand architect. For now, though, the presidents and prime ministers who romanticize Islam and explain away its excesses all but condone the extermination of a 2,000-year-old religious civilization.
H.R. 565 – Save Christians from Genocide Act was sponsored by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.-48) and introduced on January 13, 2017. As of this date, it has been referred to the Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security. It is intended to "recognize that Christians and Yazidis in Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, Iran, and Libya are targets of genocide, and to provide for the expedited processing of immigrant and refugee visas for such individuals, and for other purposes."
With Easter soon upon the world, it behooves people, no matter their religious persuasion, to acknowledge that while John the Baptist announced to the crowd in John 1:29 "Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world," it is up to individuals with a conscience to demand protection for those who accept Christianity. There have been far too many Christian martyrs.
Eileen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.