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Religious Tolerance logo


 

Worldwide persecution of Christians

2013 to 2020:
Media accounts about the
persecution of Christians.

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This topic is continued from the previous essay.

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2013-OCT to now: News accounts on the persecution of Christians:

  • 2013-OCT-20: The Church of the Virgin Marry near Cairo was the site of a massacre:

    The church was attacked while a wedding was in progress. Four Christians were killed and nearly two dozen wounded. Among those killed were two girls aged 12 and 8 years of age. The security group who had protected the church were seen leaving shortly before the massacre began. In spite of numerous calls for police and ambulance support, they only arrived two hours after the shooting. 1

  • 2013-OCT-21: Largest massacre of Christians in Syria to date:

A group of US-supported Islamist rebels occupied Sadad, an ancient Christian settlement. During the one week occupation, the rebels killed 45 Christians including women and children. All of the 14 churches in Sadad were ransacked and destroyed, The bodies of six people in one family, aged 16 to 90 were found at the bottom of a well. 1

  • 2013-DEC-16: British cabinet minister discusses the persecution of Christians:

Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, a Muslim who was born of Pakistani parents delivered a speech at Georgetown University. She said:

"Across the world, people are being singled out and hounded out simply for the faith they hold…. [Middle Eastern Christians] are rooted in their societies, adopting and even shaping local customs. Yet ... [a] mass exodus is taking place, on a Biblical scale. In some places, there is real danger that Christianity will become extinct.”

Judge Ken Starr, president and chancellor of Baylor University, wrote:

"The silence of Western governments about this phenomenon and its primary cause -– the rise of Islamist extremism -– is at best short sighted. The Christian exodus represents not only a humanitarian crisis, but a looming national security problem for the West.

As Baroness Warsi notes, Christians have helped shape the cultures they are now fleeing. In Iraq, Syria, Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East, Christian communities have lived and worked for almost two millennia. If they continue to exit the region, or if they continue to be persecuted and repressed, the increasingly thin chances that Middle Eastern countries will develop into stable, peaceful societies, free of violent religious extremism, will virtually disappear.

The very concept of freedom, including religious freedom, has ancient Christian roots. Contrary to popular perceptions, the precursors for modern ideas of liberty are rooted in Jewish scripture and the writings of early Christians such as St. Paul, Tertullian and Lactantius. Notions of universal human dignity and freedom were developed by Medieval scholastics and Protestant reformers, and were first codified in the American founding.

In the late second and early third centuries, Tertullian became the first thinker in history to use the phrase “religious liberty,” and, furthermore, to argue that religious liberty is a human right belonging to all people regardless of class or creed. A hundred years after Tertullian’s invention of the concept, it formed the basis of the Edict of Milan of 313 [CE], which granted religious freedom to all sects throughout the Roman Empire.

Early Christians, such as the fourth-century Greek theologian Gregory of Nyssa, developed radical critiques of slavery and sexual coercion. In fact, according to Oklahoma historian Kyle Harpe, Gregory was the first person ever to have argued for the basic injustice of slavery. The same high view of human nature and freedom that inspired Gregory leads Coptic Christians in Egypt today to fight for the rights of all people in the current constitutional drafting process, including the rights of atheists. And it leads Christians in India – often joining with non-Christians – to battle against untouchability and the sexual enslavement of women and children.

Even the often-decried missionary activity of Christians in regions such as sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America has encouraged economic growth, female literacy – a key sign of a successful society – and, in some cases, democracy itself. National University of Singapore political scientist Robert Woodberry argues that Protestant missionaries catalyzed the global spread of religious liberty, mass education, mass printing, newspapers, voluntary organizations and colonial reforms, thereby creating the conditions that made stable democracy more likely. In fact, Woodberry draws on historical evidence and sophisticated statistical methods to prove that the presence of Protestant missionaries explains about half the progress toward democracy in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Oceania.

Of course, Christianity’s long story has been mixed. And other minorities also are subject to religious persecution around the world, including Muslims, Jews, Hindus and Buddhists. But the persecution and flight of Christians deserves far more attention than it is getting by Western governments. Baroness Warsi should be applauded for her courage in speaking out.

The United States in particular should mount an aggressive diplomatic initiative to convince Middle Eastern societies that they must protect their Christian communities, and ensure that they become equal citizens in both law and culture. If those societies fail in this critical task, the results could be catastrophic – for the Christians themselves, and for the great causes of global peace, freedom and justice for all people. 2

  • 2013-DEC-18: Charles, the Prince of Wales, highlights persecution of Christians in the Middle East:

Prince Charles and Prince Ghazi of Jordan, visited two churches in the UK which are linked to active Christian denominations in the Middle East. They were the Egyptian Coptic Church Centre in Stevenage and the Syriac Orthodox cathedral in west London. He heard stories of Christians being targeted and persecuted by Islamist militants in the Middle East. At a later reception at Clarence House, where the two royals met with Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop of Westminster, and the Chief Rabbi, Prince Charles said he felt deeply troubled by the plight of Christians. He said:

"For 20 years I have tried to build bridges between Islam and Christianity to dispel ignorance and misunderstanding. The point though, surely, is that we have now reached a crisis where bridges are rapidly being deliberately destroyed by those with a vested interest in doing so. This is achieved through intimidation, false accusation and organized persecution including to the Christian communities in the Middle East at the present time."

In Syria, Christians have been accused of supporting President Al-Assad. However, in reality, they have generally remained neutral. Still threats and active persecution have reached such a level that almost a third of Christians in Syria have fled the country. 3

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  • 2020: World Watch List's 2020 Report on lack of religious freedom and religious persecution across the world:

Open Doors publishes a free annual watch list that discusses Christian persecution worldwide.

Their 2020 report states that:

  • "Around the world, more than 260 million Christians live in places where they experience high levels of persecution, just for following Jesus. That’s 1 in 8 [Christian] believers, worldwide.

That number approaches the total population of the U.S.!

  • 9,488 churches or other Christian buildings were attacked.

  • 2,933 christians were killed for faith-related reasons.

  • 3,711 Christians were detained without trial, arrested, sentenced and imprisoned.

  • They find that persecution of Christians is most severe in North Korea, followed by Afghanista, Somalia, Libya, Pakistan, Entrea, Sudan, Yemen, Iran, and India.

  • North America, South America, Europe, the Southern part of Africa, Australia, and New Zealand are among the safe contries in which to be a Christian.

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Related essay on this web site:
bullet Response by the American public to persecutions of Christians 

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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.

"Persecution report from across the Middle East," International Christian Concern, 2013-DEC-17, at: http://www.persecution.org/

Ken Starr, "No tolerance without Christianity," USA Today, 2013-DEC-16, at: http://www.usatoday.com

John McManus, "Christians persecuted by Islamists, says Prince Charles," BBC News, 2013-DEC-18, at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/

"International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights," United Nations, at: https://www.ohchr.org/

Raymond Ibrahim, "A Global Catastrophe: "260 Million Christians Experience High Levels of Persecution," Gatestone Institute, 2020-FEB-02. at: https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/

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Copyright 2013 to 2020 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2020-FEB-02
Author: B.A. Robinson

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