Faith and Life
In October 2001, six masked men on motorcycles rode up to St. Dominic's Church in Bahawalpur, Paskistan, and shot up the crowd gathered for worship. About 18 people were shot, including a Muslim policeman. (Reports were uncertain on the number of victims.)
An article quoted a representative of the Barnabas Foundation as saying, "Never in living memory has the situation for Christian minorities in the Islamic world been so precarious."
This article was posted by many other sites. Here is one:
I share the concern expressed in this Crosswalk article about the persecution and deaths of Christians. I support the spread of valid information on any instance of persecution. The world forum can quickly spread news like no other time in history!
We should do all we can to raise awareness of such events, and advocate for the prevention of such acts and attitudes that lead to them. I think, however, that the Barnabas Fund has overstated the situation.
I am not sure how long a period of history he means to cover by his phrase "in living memory." This does not objectively appear to be the worst time in history for Christian minorities.
On what objective grounds can we claim that things are worse now than at any other time "in living memory"? What are the facts of the matter? Today we are simply more aware of what is going on, because of our worldwide and immediate news services.
There are well-documented instances throughout history where despotic leaders freely killed Christians, just for being Christians. Whole communities of Christians were simply exterminated. This is actually rare in today's world, by historical standards.
I note that this church shooting in Pakistan was promptly responded to by Pakistani officially, and eventually the Pakistan judicial system found the perpetrator guilty.
Fact or Emotion?
Often individuals who make such claims actually have little knowledge of objective history. Have they really investigated all related events of history to actually compare and see how bad things are now compared to the past? Some may make claims like this for the emotional effect.
This is irresponsible and reflects badly on Christian representatives trying to work seriously for protection of really persecuted peoples. Drawing unwarranted conclusions and making wild sweeping claims can discredit serious efforts in advocacy for persecuted groups. And while we are at it, should not we advocate jsut as strongly for any group who are persecuted for their faith?
Strong Internatonal Advocacy
Today the fact is that there is a greater awareness of the plight of the persecuted, Christian or otherwise. Today we see the greatest international advocacy on behalf of persecuted Christian groups that has ever occurred in history! This advocacy covers many spheres including legal and political protection and protest.
This includes lobbying governments (pushing for acts such as the US Congress resolutions and conditions for business dealings with US companies and other laws). Workers in such agencies maintain contact with national leaders around the world, resulting in, for instance, Western heads of state speaking out in international forums for Christians' rights.
Many international agencies, both religious and non-religious, with offices in many countries around the world, work as advocates for persecuted religious minorities, such as Christians in the Middle East and Asia.
A major difference is that our electronic news and communication has raised awareness and enabled more visiblity for this problem. Thus, also, response can occur more quickly.
This is not to diminish the scope of the problem, but Christian leaders need to be factual and responsible in their comments. My wife Edith at one time worked for an agency involved in serious, dangerous, in-country support for persecuted Christians. The agency performs vigorous advocacy awareness work for persecuted Christians in semi-closed countries.
We are aware of the problem, and in touch with persons involved in such advocacy for persecuted Christians.
One of our dearest friends from Africa has been involved in a worldwide study of persecution of Christians, the character of persecuted churches, and cultural patterns we might draw from persecution situations about training, discpleship and church planting.
I assisted him with draft reports in the progress of this research. He now conducts seminars all over the world, educating both "free-world" advocates and persecuted communities themselves.
For More Information:
Christian Freedom International
Christian Solidarity Worldwide
Originally written 10 October 2001 in an email response to a request for information on this topic.
Article finalized and posted 14 February 2006
Last updated 10 October 2007
Copyright © Orville Boyd Jenkins 2006
Permission granted for free download and transmission for personal or educational use. Other rights reserved.