21 August, 2019

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‘Christophobia’: The Unspoken Scandal Of Global Christian Persecution

By Asoka N.I. Ekanayaka

Prof. Asoka N.I. Ekanayaka

The monstrous Easter Sunday massacre of Christian worshippers in Sri Lanka which killed nearly 300 needs to be seen in the broader context of the worldwide persecution of Christians in our day and age. It then becomes apparent that other incidents like the massacre inside two mosques in New Zealand last March bear no comparison in scale to the brutal persecution of Christians  that is currently taking place and escalating across many countries throughout the world. Depending on the location such harassment is said to emanate from a wide variety of sources including extremist Hinduism, Buddhist nationalism, Communist authoritarianism, militant secularism, as well as non-state  actors like paramilitaries and drug cartels in parts of Latin America. However by far the most ruthless persecution is  attributed to the pernicious influence of radical Islam, where Christians are being forced to flee Arab countries on a scale where according to the 3rd International Christian Forum which convened in Moscow in 2017, during the past 10 years the Middle East’s Christian population has shrunk by 80%  prompting warnings that Christianity could entirely vanish from the Middle East  the land of its birth by 2025.

It is fitting that the world should focus on this issue at this time  when we remember that 2019 marks  the 20th anniversary of the gruesome murder of Graham Stains and his two little sons aged 6 and 10  who were burnt alive in their vehicle by marauding Hindu fanatics in 1999 in Orissa. Stains was a Christian Missionary who with his wife had been engaged in a labour of love working amongst lepers and other destitutes in India for 34 years. The anniversary of their martyrdom if nothing else should serve to concentrate the mind on the plain facts pertaining to the raging  phenomenon now identified as “Christophobia”. The facts speak for themselves although they hardly receive the media publicity they deserve in a secular atheistic anti Christian post modern world  that is preoccupied with “Islamaphobia” ‘xenophobia’, ‘anti Semitism’ and “homophobia” but indifferent to the global epidemic of rampant “Christophobia”. 

According to Open Doors a reputable organisation that has been monitoring Christian persecution worldwide for 60 years, every month on average 345 Christians are killed, 105 churches or Christian buildings are attacked, and 219 Christians are detained without trial and imprisoned.  At that rate not surprisingly it has been  estimated that 245 million Christians ( 1 in 9 worldwide ) may suffer high levels of persecution in various countries. Indeed research has shown that in the 50 worst affected countries in 2017/2018 alone, 4136 Christians were killed, 2625  were detained without trial arrested and imprisoned,  while 1266  churches or Christian buildings were attacked. A previous report mentions 1020 cases of rape and sexual harrassment and 1252 abductions during a one year review period. In various countries there is the double persecution of Christian women  who suffer such abuses as rape, sexual harassment, abduction and forced marriage because they are women as well as Christian. This is a  particularly  awful aspect of Christian persecution that is impossible to quantify accurately given the complex cultural overtones, ingrained violence, and well disguised nature of such religious double persecution specifically targeting women. 

 Ironically around the same time that a deranged shooter  mowed down Muslim worshippers in  New Zealand last March sending the world’s media into an apoplexy of hysterical reporting, the extremist Muslim sect known as Boko Haram along with Muslim Fulani herdsmen are reported to have massacred  more than 140 people in mainly Christian localities in Nigeria since February including more than 100 since the beginning of March, adding to  more than 1000 killings of Christians in Central Nigeria in 2018. Observers have called the deliberate targeting of Christians in that country for extermination as pure genocide with possibly 6000 victims mostly women children and the aged being killed and maimed in 2018. No doubt such monstrous atrocities perpetrated on poor Christians in that part of the world would have probably occupied no more than a footnote in the news coverage of prestigious global mainstream media giants, compared to the saturation coverage of the incident in New Zealand. Such inconsistencies tell their own story.

However research has identified 50 countries  with high levels of Christian persecution  including 11 countries where there was “extreme persecution” namely North Korea, Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, Pakistan, Sudan, Eritrea, Yemen, Iran, India and Syria. Even in Egypt which is  16th in the list the greatly respected Coptic Archbishop Angaelos of London has been writing about dreadful attacks where amidst notices  in villages warning Christians to “leave or die”, Coptic priests are murdered, and their churches bombed and innocent Christian men women and children are routinely slaughtered in that country. The International Society for Human Rights estimates that  Christians worldwide are victims of 80% of all acts of  religious intolerance even though they constitute only 30% of the global population. The Pew Research Center in a recent report  has stated that while religious harassment by governments or other groups in society increased in 2016 the most frequently targeted  were Christians who suffer harassment in 144 countries.

The situation is so serious that in December 2018 the British Foreign Secretary ordered an official review into the plight of persecuted Christians around the world. In doing so he observed that the persecution of Christians is an accurate early warning sign of the persecution of every minority. Not that the Western nations are necessarily immune to the charge of Christian persecution, although they have not so far taken to actually killing Christians !. 

Recently a Christian street preacher was arrested handcuffed and his Bible torn out of his hands by police outside Southgate Tube Station  in North London. In July 2016 to the accompaniment of cheering crowds four Christian street preachers led by local resident Mike Overd who was preaching outside the Bristol Shopping Center were arrested for causing a ‘disturbance’ while  exhorting people to ‘obey God and keep His commandments’. In 2017 Ian Sleeper a Christian street preacher who was arrested outside Southwalk Cathedral for displaying placards conveying love for Muslims while criticising the ideology of Islam was held for 13 hours in a police cell and subsequently placed on bail for 6 weeks before finally being informed that no charges will be brought against him !  Moreover three years ago a nurse was sacked for offering a Bible to a patient. No wonder according to a recent survey 50% of British Christians say they have experienced prejudice.

In Belfast Northern Ireland in 2015 Daniel and Amy Macarthur the Christian owners of a Bakery were dragged to court over their conscientious refusal to accept an order to bake a cake decorated with a pro gay marriage slogan. The case went all the way to the supreme court which overturned the verdict of the lower courts and upheld their appeal in 2017. It is ironical that such things now take place in Britain which only a few generations ago  was a great colonial power steeped in the Judeo Christian heritage, enabling the dissemination of  the Christian Gospel to the uttermost parts of  the earth by the Christian Missionary Society (CMS). In the USA too Christians in the wedding industry who for religious reasons  have conscientiously declined to  provide custom orders for homosexual weddings have lost their businesses, their reputations, and thousands of dollars  and even faced death threats. And just last week the top Australian rugby international Israel Folau with 73 caps was sacked by the Australian rugby authorities for courageously asserting the Christian position about homosexuality on social media.

The recent fire that engulfed the Notre-Dame in Paris whatever the cause, occurred against the background of countless European Churches which are being vandalised,defecated on and torched every day.According to PI News a German news site there were 1,063 attacks on Christian churches or symbols (crucifixes, icons, statues) in France in 2018. A 2017 study revealed that, “Islamist extremist attacks on Christians” in France rose by 38 percent, reaching 376 in 2016. In Germany where four Churches were vandalised or set on fire this March, it was reported that in the Alps and Bavaria alone, around 200 churches had been attacked and many crosses broken in 2017. Furthermore it has been alleged that in many instances of Church attacks the authorities and the media have a tendency to underplay the identity of the “migrant” vandals and make excuses for them so as to avoid being accused of Islamaphobia !

So it is clear that over and above the violent persecution  they endure in many countries around the world, Christians  are increasingly encountering various forms of oppression and the denial of basic human rights  even in Western nations which having long since abandoned their Judeo Christian heritage and thrown overboard all restraints of Christian morality, have now transposed into  ultra liberal secular hedonistic societies enforcing an arrogant ‘cultural Marxism’ that is intolerant  of any Christian challenge to its  core values. 

Sad to say neither can Sri Lanka evade responsibility for numerous incidents over the years involving the harassment of Christians. In that sense the horrendous 2019 Easter Sunday attacks on Christian worshippers was but a new and frightening twist to a longstanding trend of Christian harrassment in various parts of the island. According to records based on regular reports by a credible local Christian organisation  from 2002 – 2019 there may have been around  650 incidents of varying severity targeting Christians. They have included arson, death threats, obstruction of burials, attacks on places of worship, disruption of worship, home invasions, stoning, assault, mob attacks, verbal abuse as well as police intimidation and inaction. The authorities have been consistently callous and indifferent in the face of such incidents  which have tarnished the reputation of the country for religious tolerance in the eyes of  the world. People may recall how a few years ago the then Minister of Justice made a public fool of himself by arrogantly denying the existence of this problem and threatening to have a reputable lawyer who had brought the facts to light removed from the bar !

All that remains in this review is to address three critical but related questions. Why is there so much  Christian persecution in the world ?  What is it about Christianity that so evokes the hatred of the world ? And what  ought to be the Christian  response to persecution ? The answer to such questions is grounded in the uncompromising affirmations of historic Christianity  and their highly dogmatic character, being rooted in the supreme authority of revealed truth in the Bible which the Church regards as God’s infallible Word spoken to humanity. Consequently pure Christianity  is ‘built on the inalienable foundation of the apostles and prophets of the early Church, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone’. That is the authentic Christianity  which saints and martyrs  have boldly proclaimed throughout the long history of the Church, and for which many were persecuted and paid the ultimate price. It is a far cry from  the insipid religious pluralism and pseudo-intellectual theological mumbo jumbo of inculturation with which many modern day liberal bishops and priests in the respectable mainline Churches betray the faith, distort Biblical Christianity, and align with the contemporary culture so as to avoid conflict with the world.

By contrast  authentic Christianity affirms the existence of  only one true sovereign Almighty God besides whom there is no other. He alone is the creator and sustainer of the universe and the judge of all mankind at the end of the age. Of the absolute specificity of his deity there can be no confusion, for he is the God of history who is known by name in the Bible which is a record of his dealings with the human race. Accordingly authentic Christianity rejects all other conceptions of god  as  vain superstition and idolatry, mere figments of the human imagination reflected in inarticulate images made of wood and stone, if not demonic beings of some kind somehow confused in the fallible human heart for deity. That is the testimony of authentic Christianity.

Christianity also contrasts with all other religions in totally rejecting the notion that  the  goal of true religion is  to produce ‘good people’ abounding in meritorious works. On the contrary Christianity holds that all people even the best of them are in their natural state doomed sinners  who have turned their backs on God in a fallen world where their good works ( however admired by the world ) are like filthy rags, by the impossible standard of God’s holiness from which they fall miserably short. As a consequence the default position of every human being born into the world is that of a wretched sinner who having incurred the wrath of a holy God whom he has displeased, finds himself in a state of total depravity and total inability to extricate himself from the curse of sin, unless God himself in his infinite mercy and compassion were to take the initiative and save him. That is the painful news of authentic Christianity that is anathema to the world because it mocks the human ego, leaves no room for human pride,  and demands humiliating submission to God  alone who gives the free gift of salvation and eternal life to those who thus turn to him in humble repentance and faith. 

It is at this point of seeming hopelessness that the glorious good news called the “Gospel” which is the very bedrock and centerpiece of the Christian religion  presents itself and makes Christianity unique amongst religions. The Christian Gospel is the astounding story of God’s historic offensive against human sin, where  in  his  infinite love for fallen humanity God came down to earth in history assuming human form as Jesus Christ who the Bible unequivocally records was the very “radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature”. Thus it was that the historical Jesus came into the world to save sinners. This he did  by leading a perfect life on earth and  after proving his divinity with mighty signs and wonders redeemed sinners by his manifold sufferings and brutal execution as a propitiation for their sin. There followed his mighty physical resurrection from the grave and ascension to Heaven.  

Accordingly God now calls on all people everywhere to turn to Christ Jesus in faith and repentance,  that being  as it were born again  as regenerate human beings  saved by the blood of Christ  and destined for eternal life, they may be empowered to dedicate the rest of their lives on earth to the glory of God through selfless service to humanity. That is the essence of authentic Christianity which therefore logically claims that Christ Jesus is the only way, the only Truth and the only life  with salvation in no one else, there being no other name under heaven by which human beings might attain eternal life.

That being Christianity, it is not difficult to see why there is so much Christian persecution in the world. By its very nature the Christian Gospel poses an inescapable challenge to the human race. It compels a literally life and death choice which the world finds uncomfortable. The human ego proud of its own beliefs and philosophical preconceptions resents being pushed into a corner ! Consequently for those who are able to accept it Christianity is a glorious hope but for those who reject it  a potential object of hatred. For those who respond to it the very wisdom of God but for  those who recoil from it the ultimate foolishness. For those attracted to it the supreme motivation, but  for those repelled by it a troublesome stumbling block to be eliminated.  No wonder there has been so much Christian persecution down the ages commencing with Jesus himself who was condemned by the Jewish establishment and executed ! 

Moreover Christianity  is basically an evangelistic religion with a strong missionary imperative  grounded in Jesus’ own unequivocal command “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation . .” However while Christians are exhorted do so respectfully in a spirit of love humility and self sacrifice – this is often resented as an unacceptable cultural intrusion and proselytizing,  provoking violent opposition.

Finally, while always insisting that Christians have a right to protection under the law, the proper Christian response to persecution involves pragmatically accepting the reality that it is inevitable. Centuries before Jesus was born the scriptures record God’s people crying out to Him “Yet for your sake we are killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered” ! Jesus himself warned his disciples “You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart I have overcome the world” ! 

Therefore rejoicing in  their “citizenship in heaven” and enjoying the absolute assurance of eternal life Christians glory in their manifold sufferings on earth where having no fear of death they regard this life as only a temporary interlude where as the apostle Paul put it, persecution is  but a “slight momentary affliction preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” .Thus Christians are enabled to forgive their enemies  bless their torturers and pray for their oppressors, while absorbing persecution with patience and long suffering in the great tradition of  countless saints and martyrs throughout the history of the Church. The knowledge of Christian persecution worldwide should not evoke the pity of the world so much as astonishment at those who endure suffering victoriously crying out with the great apostle Paul who writing from  a Roman prison around AD 61 exclaimed “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain” !

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Latest comments

  • 7
    0

    ‘ Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
    Shall tribulation,or distress,or persecution
    Or famine or nakedness,or peril or sword?
    As it is written:
    ‘ For your sake we are killed ….
    We are counted as sheep
    For the slaughter.”
    Yet in all things we are more than conquerors through Him
    Who loved us.
    For I am persuaded that neither death nor life…
    Principalities nor powers,nor things present nor things to come…
    Shall be able to separate us from the love of God
    Which is in Christ Jesus
    Our Lord”.(Romans 8)

    Appreciate this article.Thank you sir.

    • 1
      1

      Prof. Asoka N.I. Ekanayaka,

      RE: ‘Christophobia’: The Unspoken Scandal Of Global Christian Persecution

      “The monstrous Easter Sunday massacre of Christian worshippers in Sri Lanka which killed nearly 300 needs to be seen in the broader context of the worldwide persecution of Christians in our day and age.”

      Why? Because Christianity unlike Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism and Islam was and is seen as the tool of the Western Colonialism and Imperialism. It was Christianity that persecuted the Jews, and the native peoples.

      The Christianity that was practiced is not the Love preached by Jesus, but political Christianity and Western Colonialism and Imperialism. This process still continues.

      Besides, there is no definite proof that Jesus can save one from Hell Fire.

      Want to know more?

      IQ2 2009 – Hitchens Eviscerates the Catholic Church

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wMRuCS7MCG8

      Christopher Hitchens argues against the proposition that ‘The Catholic Church is a Force for Good’ at the Intelligence Squared debate in October, 2009

  • 5
    1

    Beautifully written Professor, thank you for articulating what makes true Christians different.

  • 1
    0

    Is there no possibility of all gods of various religions getting together to advice their followers ‘not to fight’ and kill each other?

    • 1
      0

      KA
      You know that it is the same being that has revealed Himself/Herself/Itself to people of different faiths in confusing and contradictory ways. The religions based on the Book, believe in the same God. Polytheistic Hindus have designer gods and god men to add to the fun. Buddhism strictly rejects God and soul to preach impermanence. The Orient has concerned itself minimally with whatever Gods had to offer by way of guidance. Black Africans were a happy lot until God got smuggled in.
      +
      I imagine that Gods need amusement, and act like the humans supposedly created by them to relish violence as entertainment, a long as it does not hurt them.
      If you ask me, Gods that have to get their act together and declare that they are in no way responsible for what goes on in their names, and have nothing to offer in what people think is their afterlife.

    • 0
      0

      Well, the atheists, as represented by the Communists and Nazis killed millions more people in one century then all the religious wars throughout history combined.

  • 2
    1

    I do not agree with anything of this article. I do not think about any christian Persecution. There is a Muslim – christianty fight. Terrorist Islamism or Wahabism is the saudi Arabian product in retaliation to the UK/USA axis of creation of a anti-muslim stand (I think started some where in 1950s.). After the first cold war, the cold war against muslims needed as the weapons industry wanted something. so, the terrorism began. If not Terrorism began with the creation of ISrael. Now, there is christian and Islamic animosity. Muslims are expanding against Hindus, christians. It is just before 2000, POPE at that time declared the new millinium in Asia where ASIA should be converted to the right faith. Now, you should read books written and found in AMAZON “ASIA’s MILITARY BUDDHISM and TERRORIST MONKS”. Yes muslims are stupid. because every time the west is invading a country the church goes behind it. The Church is also very sophisticated, in the west church take immigrant youth in their conversion charade. So,, the Muslim country thinks this is the Non-white countries engaging in conversion.
    You need to read from different sides and a lto to understand the holy truth.
    I know Thailand is a country in which the WEst is very active.

  • 0
    0

    Prof: I think the word Christophobia is a misleading word. there is animosity towards Catholics both from Islam and Protestants. But, I think the present POPE is different. The present POPE is Latin american. PRevious Popes who were mostly European were different and the one Polish Pope was notorious against All other religions, particularly the Polish POPE was a CIA agent. I heard Mongolians are suffering because of Protestant Invasion and breaking down of their Religion based culture. As some protestants in Srilanka wants Religion can not be separated from the culture because of that from politics. but, Srilankan protestants, in that sense, West want Asian move away from their buddhism based culture. So,, they prosecute Islam because they need war, as well as there is competition between Islam and christianity for expansion. READ at least the high lights of “ASIAN MILITARY BUDDHISM and TERRORIST MONKS”.

  • 1
    0

    “…according to the 3rd International Christian Forum which convened in Moscow in 2017, during the past 10 years the Middle East’s Christian population has shrunk by 80% prompting warnings that Christianity could entirely vanish from the Middle East the land of its birth by 2025.”
    +
    A man of science should use reliable data than vague utterances.
    Christians did well in Iraq. Who disturbed the peace?
    Christians did well in Syria. Who disturbed the peace?
    The Christians in Iran have very few complaints. Who is harassing Iran?
    If Christians have trouble in the Middle East, the root cause is imperialist meddling.
    Why is the writer reluctant to accuse Israel which is hurting Palestinian Christians.
    There is something very positive about Christianity in the Middle East and North Africa. It is home grown stuff that owes little to imperialism for its survival.

  • 0
    0

    thank you for your article sir .I urge Christians all over the world to storm the throne of grace with the prayer Jesus offered on the cross “Father forgive them for they not what they are doing “Say it loudly ,convincingly and in the strength of the love of Jesus

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