Rob Schwarzwalder is Senior Vice President at Family Research Council. This article appeared in Christian Headlines on March 4, 2015.
The persecution of Christians around the world has drawn sharp focus given the beheading of 21 Coptic Christians on a Libyan beach last month.
ISIS poses an international threat and its indiscriminate and vicious violence has become infamous. However, the persecution of Christians around the world is profound and growing. Here are a few places where it is most horrific:
Nigeria – Boko Haram
At precisely the same moment as the Paris shootings, the news that nearly an entire community of Nigerians in that country’s far northeast had been brutally slaughtered and the survivors displaced, and their town “razed to the ground,” went nearly unnoticed. The mass murder by Boko Haram of possibly as many as 2,000 people in Baga, northeastern Nigeria, is only the most recent atrocity in a campaign of pogroms, massacres, mass-enslavements, systematic rape, kidnapping of children, and razing of towns and villages that has been ongoing for over a decade.
North Korea – government action
According to Open Doors’ partners working in secret in North Korea, there are between 50,000-70,000 Christians imprisoned in labor camps. Christians in North Korea face unimaginable pressure in every sphere of life. Forced to meet only in secret, they dare not share their faith even with their families. Anyone discovered engaging in secret religious activity may be subject to arrest, disappearance, torture and even public execution. And, to heap cruelty on top of cruelty, the families of Christians — even if they are not believers themselves — are often subjected to persecution as well.
China – “systematic persecution”
According to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, the Chinese government “continues to perpetrate particularly severe violations of religious freedom.” When the commission released its 2014 Annual Report, it once again recommended that China be designated as a “country of particular concern,” based on what it termed “systematic, egregious, ongoing abuses.”
Middle East – ISIS, et al
We may be witnessing the twilight of Christianity in the Levant and Mesopotamia. It is conceivable that in few years there will be no more a living Christian community in Jerusalem or Bethlehem for the first time in 2000 years, only monks and priests tending to the stones of monasteries and churches being visited by the tourists.
Indonesia – Islamic-based terrorism
It is probable that the recent terror attacks and the ISIS movement around the globe may reignite terrorist activities in Indonesia- a Muslim-majority country. Indonesia has had a history of deadly attacks by Muslim militants, including church bombings in 2001, Bali bombing in 2002, and hotel bombings in 2009.
India – anti-Christian persecution nationwide
A spate of new episodes of violence against Christians in India is stoking fears that the Hindu nationalist Modi government is ushering in an era of heightened persecution. The violence has not been localized to one specific area, but has occurred throughout the country.
What can you do?
- Urge the President, your Senators and your Member of Congress to make international religious liberty a centerpiece of American foreign policy. Defending the persecuted wins friends for America and aids those brave men and women who will not bend the knee to other faiths or the demands of any government.
- Subscribe to the newsletters of groups like Voice of the Martyrs, Open Doors, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, and China Aid. Find out what’s happening, support them financially so they can better defend the persecuted, and pray.
- Write to individual prisoners. This sends a message to those holding them that the imprisoned are not forgotten, and that action against them has witnesses.
- Write to the governments where the prisoners are held. Let them know you are aware of what they are doing or permitting, and are holding them accountable.
- Pray – I just mentioned that but am doing so again. Prayer moves the hand of God; praying for those suffering for identifying with Christ can do remarkable things.
“Persecuted believers have become the new face of genuine Christianity,” writes Tom Doyle of the Christian ministry e3 Partners in his new book, Killing Christians. “They are filled with passion to live or die for Christ, and we in the West have much to learn from them.”
Amen, brother. Amen.