The most persecuted people in the world?

The Belfast Telegraph carried an article on Monday, which had first appeared in the Independent on Sunday, claiming that recently published research has shown that Christians are the most persecuted people in the world. The debate surrounding this claim has been very interesting with arguments about statistics, suggestions that ‘you reap what you sow’ and arguing about the definition of persecution taking up much space.The picture (left) with the article was of Meriam Ebrahim, recently released from prison in Sudan, meeting the Pope.

Here are seven reflections that, I believe, are beyond dispute:

1. Christians are being persecuted and martyred around the world.

2. Undoubtedly Christians have been involved in persecution of other religious groups but the volume and intensity of Christian persecution of other religious groups pales in comparison with persecution being visited on Christians

3. Persecution for one’s faith and hostility for other social reasons are often intertwined.

4. Western interference and support for various insurgents has led to a very significant increase in Christians being persecuted, most notably in the Middle East.

5. We must distinguish between opposition and persecution. We have every right to oppose what we believe to be wrong. Just as Christians will argue against, say, Islam, so Muslims and others have every right to argue against Christians but opposition should be peaceful, reasoned and principled.

6. Christians cannot look for help from Western or historically Christianised governments… unless such help will be politically advantageous to these governments! In contrast, it is likely that principled people in other religions and of no religion may be allies against unfair treatment.

7. The historically privileged position of the Church in the ‘West’ is coming to an end. Opposition will increase, possibly also persecution. As we, in the West, come to the same position that many other Christians have been in for generations, we will need to learn from them, from both their faithfulness and their failures.

One Reply to “The most persecuted people in the world?”

  1. I came across this post while looking idly – and believe your seven reflections very helpful indeed.

    When I served in India, there was heated persecution often in very specific areas. I think reflection 3 is very relevant there. News magazines’ articles on fierce persecution in the state of Orissa gave the impression that issues of caste, etc. came into play in the attacks on Christians. There is no doubt, however, that the Lord used that opposition (for whatever motives it flowed) – I remember, over a period of weeks, receiving letters addressed simply to ‘The Librarian, Woodstock School’ from completely unknown people in that state of Orissa (which I had never even visited), asking me to send New Testaments and literature about the Christian faith.

    I think points 3 and 5 very relevant. Again, thinking back to my time in India, I remember being a visitor at an Operation Mobilisation conference for Indian pastors and church leaders. I remember Joseph d’Souza of OM suggesting that some persecution was due to Christians being insensitive and culturally inappropriate as to how they did things.

    Point 6 is very evidently being played out in the Middle East. What happened to Iraqi Christians was horrific. Yet there was more reaction to the Internet beheading of an admittedly very courageous American journalist. In relation to foreign policy, it appears self-interest rules the day – the holocaust could happen and we would hardly blink an eye-lid.

    Point 7 is very helpful. We also need to remember that Jesus calls His disciples to cross-carrying – and we should not be surprised at opposition, but expect it.

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