The Persecution of Christians | Daniel Mountain

To many, the claim that Christianity is under threat may seem a rather odd concept. Both the world’s leading superpower, the United States, and most nations in the Western world at large claim to be ‘Christian countries’. This coupled with the almost non-existent media coverage deceives the casual observer, trusting the illusion that Christianity is as prosperous and influential as it has been for centuries past. To the contrary, many of the world’s Christians currently face systematic persecution from armed groups and governments alike. 

In fact, a number of research projects have collected a wealth of data highlighting this disturbing trend in international politics. The Pew Research Center discovered hostility towards Christianity reached a record high in 2012 in which 139 countries forcibly discriminated against their Christian communities. In other words, nearly three quarters of the world’s nations torment Christians in some capacity. Horrifyingly, the Centre for the Study of Global Christianity bolsters such a claim, estimating that 11 Christians die every hour as a result of forced persecution. Despite an archive of evidence detailing the global discrimination of Christianity to near “genocidal” levels, the media, political establishment, and civilised society has remained silent in discussing such a pressing issue.

This is a disturbing precedent which permeates societies around the world. Across the African continent, Christians are ruthlessly hounded. Somalia is one such example of the harshest environments to openly live as a Christian. According to an Open Doors 2019 report, all religious minorities are heavily discriminated against. 99% of Somalians are Muslims and any religious diversity is heavily frowned upon. Yet life as a Somali Christian is particularly tough. Sharia is enshrined into the very fabric of the Somali constitution and the prosecution of Christians under such rulings almost always ends in violence. As a result, Christians must often hide their faith. The choice between open prayer and their family’s safety is an obvious one.

Yet Christian prospects are not much brighter in Somalia’s rural society. Islamic militant groups including the notorious Al-Shabab rule the ungoverned countryside, pursuing the country’s Christians with pitiless cruelty. If they fail to denounce Christ, Christians are either driven from their homes or executed according to particularly vicious interpretations of Islamic law.

This is the grim reality facing many Christian communities not just in Somalia but the wider African continent. The rise of Islamic fundamentalism in Mali is plaguing the countries Christian population. Meanwhile, radical preachers and militants are radicalising Mauritanian society, fuelling antagonism towards non-Muslims, particularly Christians. Similar atrocities are commonplace across the continent including Nigeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Kenya, Libya, Sudan, Eritrea, and the Central African Republic. Yet Christian plights are almost never heard.  The reality is the supposedly Christian nations of the West no longer feel morally compelled to aid geostrategically unimportant communities in the global south. Rather they have abandoned their moral foundations, ignoring the teachings of Christ in their search for power and prestige. 

While Christians are quietly tormented in Africa. Similar atrocities are developing in the Middle East. Recent events walk hand-in-hand with the most terrible cases of anti-Christian persecution. Since the 2003 US-led coalition, Iraq’s Christian population has fallen by 83% from 1.5 million to 120,000. The Archbishop of Erbil, Rt Reverend Bashar Warda stressed that Iraq’s Christians now face imminent extinction following 1400 years of suffering. “one of the oldest Churches, if not the oldest Church in the world, is [now] perilously close to extinction. Those of us who remain must be ready to face martyrdom.” Continuous sectarian following the Baathist collapse and the fall of Saddam Hussein coupled with the vicious determination of ISIS to exterminate any faith which diverts from their own warped interpretation of Salafi doctrine has led to the decimation of an ancient community which stretched millennia. To this end, the reverend later accused British leaders particularly of failing to defend Christians in Iraq. Indeed, Britain, and other supposedly Christian countries have abandoned Middle Eastern communities so desperately in need of aid as they similarly have done in Africa.

Alas, the Christian plight has fallen on deaf ears. In the age of ‘woke’ culture and radical liberalisation Christian communities must suffer in silence, while a global genocide lingers on. Christs association with Europe’s imperial past bizarrely means his poorest and most helpless followers must endure the onslaught alone. Former Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt stressed the Britain’s “postcolonial guilt” has held the West back preventing the hardship currently endured by Christians globally. From the perspective of the radical left, Christianity is now a byword for conservatism and imperialism. Any such notion must be stamped out in favour of cultural homogeneity and egalitarianism.

This is a poor excuse from such a society which has benefitted indefinitely from the teachings of Christ. In the UK alone Christianity has transcended law, culture and the essential moral philosophy which defines what is right and wrong. We simply owe more to a faith that has given us so much. Even if one does not believe in teachings of Christ, from a humanitarian perspective the needless persecution of peaceful communities deserves far more attention than it currently has. Perhaps, the Catholic Patriarch of Jerusalem Fouad Twal asks the right yet painful questions: “Does anybody hear our cry? How many atrocities must we endure before somebody, somewhere, comes to our aid?” Let us hope someone does.

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