By Tom Quiner
Christian persecution is rampant.
In Indonesia, authorities closed the Pentecost Church in Sumedang under the auspices that the church did not have a proper building permit during recent renovations. They also arrested the pastor.
In Egypt, Muslim extremists attacked a rebuilt Christian Church in Sohag. The governor of Sohag lent moral support to the attackers with this comment:
“If the Muslims did not destroy the church on that day, I would go destroy it myself.”
The military eventually joined in and attacked Christian protesters. In all, at least 17 Christians were killed.
In Baghdad, Iraq, Al Qaeda terrorists stormed the Our Lady of Deliverance church and massacred 52 Christians, who are commemorated in the video above. It’s hard to watch. The photos are graphic.
In Iran, Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, a Muslim convert to Christianity, was hauled before the Iranian Supreme court and told to renounce his new faith. Three times, Mr. Nadarkhani refused. Three times he affirmed his faith in Christ with the knowledge of what was to come: a death sentence.
You may have noticed that the American media doesn’t spend a lot of time reporting on someone on death row for being a Christian. But this isn’t about the media’s lack of interest in Christian martyrdom around the world, it’s about Christian’s lack of interest in the plight of their fellow Christians.
A Jew pointed out this oddity. I refer to political commentator, Dennis Prager. Mr. Prager has spent his adult life speaking out about Jewish rights. He has visited synagogues around the country, even the world. In particular, he worked on behalf of Jews trapped in the old Soviet Union. He said that for years and years, just about every single synagogue in American had this sign in front of it: “Save Soviet Jewry.”
Mr. Prager notes that the Christian world is fairly quiet about atrocities committed against Christians because of their faith:
“In the Muslim world, Christians are being murdered, churches are being torched, entire ancient Christian communities — the Iraqi and Palestinian, for example — are disappearing. And, again, 2 billion Christians react with silence. There are some Christian groups active on behalf of persecuted Christians around the world. They do important work, and are often the primary source of information on persecuted Christians. But they would be the first to acknowledge that the Christian world is overwhelmingly silent when it comes to the persecution of Christians in the Muslim world.”
Pope Benedict the XVI has not been silent:
“To the Muslim religious leaders I renew my heartfelt appeal that their Christian fellow-citizens be able to live in security.”
“In Egypt, too, in Alexandria, terrorism brutally struck Christians as they prayed in church. … Regarding the states of the Arabian Peninsula, where numerous Christian immigrant workers live, I hope that the Catholic Church will be able to establish suitable pastoral structures.”
“Particular mention must be made of the law against blasphemy in Pakistan. I once more encourage the leaders of that country to take the necessary steps to abrogate that law.”
It is time for Christians, Catholics and Protestants alike, to unite in calling attention to the unrelenting violence and bigotry targeted at believers in Christ. Mr. Prager suggests an international day or week of Solidarity with persecuted Christians around the world. He says Jews would be quick to stand along side us because of their own history of persecution. He says Muslims should join us “because it is right and because nothing would protect the good name of Muslims like joining non-Muslims in voicing solidarity with the many Christian victims of persecution in Muslim countries.”
The twentieth century saw more Christian martyrs, 45 million, than all the previous centuries combined. In his book, The New Persecuted: Inquiries into Anti-Christian Intolerance in the New Century of Martyrs, Italian journalist Antonio Socci, writes that an average of 160,000 Christians have been killed each year since 1990 in places like Algeria, Nigeria, Sudan, and Pakistan.
It is vital for Christians and Jews, and yes, Muslims, to renounce this relentless tide of anti-Christian intolerance.
Let us together pray for peace.