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Religious persecution

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1998 to now: Worldwide persecution of Christians

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None of us is truly free if someone, somewhere is being persecuted.

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Persecution of Christians, largely in the Middle East, and predominately in Muslim countries:

The arrival of the "Muslim Spring" has greatly increased instability and tensions in the Middle East. This has led to attacks on Christians by Muslim extremistswho are using local Christian groups as scapegoats to attack western, predominately Christian countries.

The degree of persecution is monitored by the:

  • International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP). They sponsor an annual worldwide prayer initiative in over 125 counties including almost 100,000 American congregations.

and by

  • Open Doors who produce a World Watch List of the 50 countries which have the highest level of oppression and persecution of Christians.

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Factors that influence the desire by believers to persecute "the other:"

There are at least three main, conflicting religious factors that determine whether followers of one religion will wish to persecute people of other religions:

  • Most religions teach that their beliefs are absolute truth, They explain to their followers that their faith group, alone among the many thousands of faith groups, has the fullness of truth. They often teach that the beliefs of followers of other faith groups within their religion and within other religions are partially in error, or completely false, and blasphemous. Among devout believers, this can lead to a desire to prosecute "the other" faith groups.

  • All religions teach an ethic of reciprocity. In Christianity, this is often called the Golden Rule: to treat others as one would wish to be treated. If fully accepted by believers, then there would be no persecution of other faiths. However, many believers have found a bit of wiggle room in their interpretation of the ethic: many believe that the ethic applies only to the treatment of fellow believers, and not to treatement of believers in other groups. With that interpretation, persecution of all other faith groups is more likely.

  • Most large religions are based on the teachings of their holy book: the Bible in the case of Christianity, and the Qur'an in the case of Islam. These books typically contain passages advocating extermination of other groups, and a few other passages advocating tolerance of other groups. All large religions are composed of many faith groups who differ in their interpretation of their holy book. Some emphasize passages calling for tolerance while others emphasize passages calling for rejection.

One solution would be for all faith groups to:

  • Stress the universality of their ethic of reciprocity over all other considerations. by teaching that it applies not only to fellow believers but to every human on Earth. Unfortunately, most faith groups fail miserably at this task.

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Topics covered in this section:

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Copyright 2013 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
First posting: 2013-DEC-19 
Latest update: 2013-DEC-20 
Author: B.A. Robinson

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