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Religious persecution

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1998 to now:
The Worldwide Persecution of Christians

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

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“If one member suffers, we all suffer together; if one member is
honoured, all rejoice together.“ 1 Corinthians 12:26.

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

The arrival of the "Muslim Spring" in Tunisia, Morocco, Syria, Libya, Egypt and Bahrain, etc. during the spring of 2011, greatly increased instability and tensions in the Middle East which included heightened persecution of Christians by Muslim governments and extremist groups.

Attacks by the Communist government of North Korea, by the dictatorial regime of Eritrea, and by nationalist extremists in India are also present. 4

In the U.S., the First Amendment to the federal Constitution generally guarantees religious freedom in the country. However, some Christian owners of stores that sell flowers, create wedding cakes, rent locations for weddings, etc. complain that they are being persecuted because they actively discriminate in the provision of their goods and services to members of the LGBT community.

Incidents of persecution is monitored by

  • The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP).1 They sponsor an annual worldwide prayer initiative in over 125 counties including almost 100,000 American congregations;

  • The Gatestone Institute 2 which issues a monthly report on persecution of Christians; and by
  • Open Doors 3 which produces 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 religious groups teach that their beliefs are absolutely accurate. They explain to their followers that their faith group, alone among the many tens of thousands of faith groups worldwide, 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 treatment of believers in other faith 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. Examples are: 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, many faith groups fail miserably at this task.

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Topics covered in this section:

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church's web site is at: http://idop.org/web/
  2. "Writings by Topic: Persecution of Minorities," Gatestone Institute, variious times, at: https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/
  3. Open Doors' web site is at: http://www.opendoors.org/
  4. 9Joe Carter, "The Countries Where It’s Most Dangerous to Be a Christian in 2019." The Gospel Coalition, 2019-JAN-19, at: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/

 

Copyright 2013 to 2019 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
First posting: 2013-DEC-19 
Latest update: 2019-JUL-21
Author: B.A. Robinson

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