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War on Christians

Rupert Shortt has fascinating article in the Daily Telegraph on the growing persecution of Christians around the world  :
Imagine the unspeakable fury that would erupt across the Islamic world if a Christian-led government in Khartoum had been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Sudanese Muslims over the past 30 years. Or if Christian gunmen were firebombing mosques in Iraq during Friday prayers. Or if Muslim girls in Indonesia had been abducted and beheaded on their way to school, because of their faith. Such horrors are barely thinkable, of course. But they have all occurred in reverse, with Christians falling victim to Islamist aggression. Only two days ago, a suicide bomber crashed a jeep laden with explosives into a packed Catholic church in Kaduna, northern Nigeria, killing at least eight people and injuring more than 100. The tragedy bore the imprint of numerous similar attacks by Boko Haram (which roughly translates as “Western education is sinful”), an exceptionally bloodthirsty militant group....Other notable trouble spots include Egypt, where 600,000 Copts – more than the entire population of Manchester – have emigrated since the 1980s in the face of harassment or outright oppression.......The deeper truth masked by all the ranting – and, it should be added, by the blinkers of many Western secularists – is that Christians are targeted in greater numbers than any other faith group on earth. About 200 million church members (10 per cent of the global total) face discrimination or persecution: it just isn’t fashionable to say so.
The article does a great job in pick up on great points, especially he wilful decision by the liberal media and secular politicians in ignoring the rising persecutions against Christians. There are two additional observations I would make which I thought it did not quite pick up on. 

First, the article does not devote sufficient attention to the important point that the persecution of Christians is not just happening in the world at large but it is also potent in the west. The standard linein the media by politicians has been that although Christians are suffering around the world, in the West all is well because any persecution is mild. This is the view recently sounded off in Eric Pickles' insightful piece where he argues, that "to suggest that Christians in our country are literally persecuted would be to demean the suffering of those around the world facing repression, imprisonment and death".  But that argument suffers from a "weak counter-factual". Christian suffering in the West should not be compared against Christian suffering globally, it should be compared against expected norms in the West.  Many Christians have grown up cherishing the  values of freedom and right to worship. Where such are being limited or threatened these things are serious issues, within the Western cultural setting and understanding of such freedoms. They represent a form of persecution against established norms. The question therefore is that are Christians free in the West by western standards or are they persecuted? The answer clearly is that the church in Europe is being taken to the gallows as far as fundamental areas of one' in European public life is concerned.

Secondly, the article ignores the important point that for Christians, persecution is not a tragedy it is service to God. There's a danger in viewing the massacres in Nigeria and persecutions of Christians in Egypt  as essentially human tragedies. The Christian understanding of persecution is that it is inevitable where Christians are seeking to live authentic lives for Jesus. Those who desire to live godly lives shall surely suffer persecution. True Christianity will always be persecuted because it is always threatening the established order that is under the direct control of Satan. This is the point that media fails to grapple with and frankly is incapable of doing so for spiritual reasons. For the Christian the Kingdom of God will always suffer violence. In one sense the decision to become a Christian is embracing death in Jesus - as we die to ourselves and in Him and accept all that may come. The good news is that in Jesus' resurrection we also live with Him. The point simply put is that there's certainly a stronger chance of Lucifer repenting and renouncing his wicked ways than Madonna and other members of liberal elite coming to the aid of Christians globally and standing up against their persecution.  The reason is that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. But more importantly, Christians are not look for such earthly saviours because true believers though not wishing death (St Peter exalts us to love life) do not fear it. Persecution is not a tragedy to Christians it is service.

None of this should take away from what is clearly a fine and timely contribution to an important issue, especially given the ramblings in Nigeria and other places. This is an important period for the Church, especially in volatile areas. 

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