As we close out 2012, we wish to do so marking the great suffering of the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. The persecution of Christians has proceeded apace in the past twelve months, but such is not the stuff of polite dinner conversations. Civitas has produced a global report, entitled Christianophobia on the state of opposition to Christianity, which, at present, is primarily occurring in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
Edward Malnick, writing in The Telegraph, summarises the findings of the Civitas report.
- Christians suffer greater hostility across the world than any other religious group.
- Politicians have been “blind” to the extent of violence faced by Christians in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
- The most common threat to Christians is militant Islam.
- Oppression in Muslim countries is often ignored because of a fear that criticism will be seen as “racism”.
- Converts from Islam face being killed in Saudi Arabia, Mauritania and Iran and risk severe legal penalties in other countries across the Middle East.
- Christians are targeted more than any other body of believers: 200 million Christians, or 10 per cent of Christians worldwide, are “socially disadvantaged, harassed or actively oppressed for their beliefs.”
- State hostility towards Christianity is particularly rife in China, where more Christians are imprisoned than in any other country in the world.
- Christianity is seen as a Western front for stirring up political dissidence in China.
- The “lion’s share” of persecution faced by Christians arises in countries where Islam is the dominant faith: between a half and two-thirds of Christians in the Middle East have left the region or been killed in the past century.
- There have been hundreds of attacks on Christians by religious fanatics over recent years, focusing on seven countries: Egypt, Iraq, Pakistan, Nigeria, India, Burma and China.
- The early twenty-first century has seen a steady rise in the strife endured by Christians.
- The 2003 invasion of Iraq left Iraqi Christians “more vulnerable than ever”, highlighted by the 2006 beheading of a kidnapped Orthodox priest, Fr Boulos Iskander, and the kidnapping of 17 further priests and two bishops between 2006 and 2010.
- Christians in India have faced years of violence from Hindu extremists. In 2010 scores of attacks on Christians and church property were carried out in Karnataka, a state in south west India.
- While many people are aware of the oppression faced in Burma by Aung San Suu Kyi and other pro-democracy activists, targeted abuse of Christians in the country has been given little exposure.
- In the meantime, the Western Commentariat has its glass firmly clutched to its blind eye.
This is a sobering picture. But not disheartening. Lord always arises to defend His people--as they call out to Him to take notice and take action. In such circumstances the actions of our Lord usually include the purifying and growing dedication of His people, growing public shame for the acts of brutality and aggression upon innocents, and a greater hunger for the Gospel's balm than ever before.
Tomorrow we intend to publish a companion piece to these notices of growing persecution. Douglas Wilson will opine on the ultimate Black Swan and on why, in Christendom, weakness always precedes strength. Meanwhile, let us continue to pray for persecuted brothers and sisters, particularly in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.