245 Million Christians Living In the Top 50 Countries
Suffer High Levels of Persecution
Myron J. Pereira S.J.
The Pew Research Centre found that in 2016 Christians were targeted in 144 countries, a rise from 125 in 2015. The charity ‘Open Doors’ also revealed in its World Watch List that “approximately 245 million Christians living in the top 50 countries suffer high levels of persecution or worse,” 30 million up from the previous year. And according to ‘Persecution Relief’, there were 736 attacks recorded in India in 2017, up from 348 in 2016.
Why do you think Christians are persecuted all over the world?
In a discussion as wide-ranging as this, it helps to place the question correctly. It is true that the persecution of Christians worldwide has risen considerably. But this persecution is found mainly in the global South, where Christians are usually poor and in minority. So Christians have become a ‘soft target’ for criminal or terrorist gangs who use religion as a cloak for their violence. Worse, the systems of the State (eg. the police, the law courts) are often weak or have compromised themselves. The State cannot protect its own citizens.
In the last century, totalitarian regimes such as Communism or Nazism, which were avowedly atheist, looked at Christian believers as threats to a fully regimented society. Today, the reasons are different.
In many western secularized societies today, the Christian faith is despised for its obscurantist values. The pressures against religion are subtle, and usually disguised under ‘the freedom to believe.’
In many Islamic societies, the Christian faith is seen as an expression of white privilege and a symbol of an earlier colonial epoch. (In India too, public remarks by politicians often corroborate this view). Most Muslim societies are still in a medieval framework, where faith and politics operate as one. There is little space for equal rights for those of another belief system–even for Muslim minorities, who are treated with hostility (eg. the Shias, Ahmadiyyas, Hazaras…).
What is significant however is that you are more likely to be persecuted if you are poor and politically weak. How often have you heard of the persecution of the Parsis or the Jains?
How is the idea that “the West is Christian” aggravating such situation?
The West (ie. Europe and the USA) are often seen by the rest of the world as “Christian.” This is an erroneous perception, but it may be explained by the fact that the “rest of the world” lives in a medieval framework, where religion and politics operate as one. Actually, the western world is more correctly called “post-Christian” or “secular” and so religious values are not explicitly promoted in public, and governments seek the “common good”, and not that of a particular faith.
However, problems remain. One of these has been caused by economic migration, where large groups from the former colonies arrived in the ‘mother country’ for work, and now stay on as permanent citizens with civic rights – but often with a different faith. The case of Muslims in Europe is perhaps the most tension-ridden. All that Muslims migrants demand of their Christian host countries, they will not concede to their own Christian minorities living in Muslim countries!
Matters are not improved when one realizes that most Muslims countries are feudal and oligarchic even today, when so much of life and practice is shaped by democratic norms. In recent years, for example, there have been huge groups of people, largely from Muslim countries in North Africa and West Asia attempting to leave their native lands for domicile in Europe – a so-called ‘Christian’ group of nations. It has been repeatedly asked, why do these Muslims not seek entry in the rich countries of the Muslim world? – in the Gulf, Saudi Arabia, Brunei and Turkey? In spite of their so-called hatred of the West, why is it that hordes of Muslim wish to settle there in preference to their own faith societies?
How do you consider that “the West is Christian” and if so what is the duty of the West ?
Insist on the practice of human rights.