:: Saturday, June 22, 2002 ::

No one wants to kill Christians? Oh, really? (The following is toned down a bit from the initial post.) I've been troubled by the recent sighting on Christian weblogs of a certain Soren Kierkegaard quote: Christianity has been made so completely devoid of character that there is really nothing to persecute. The chief trouble with Christians, therefore, is that no one wants to kill them any more!

Hmmm. Kierkegaard's quote may have held true in 19th-century Europe, and no doubt holds true for many in the West today who claim to follow Christ. But in a global context, Kierkegaard's quotation is dead wrong. There are plenty of people who still want to kill Christians. (Rachel Cunliffe, who posted her thoughts about the quote way back on June 11, also pointed out its irrelevance in a global context.) A new book, The New Persecuted, Inquiries into Anti-Christian Intolerance in the New Century of Martyrs, by Antonio Socci, claims that some 45 million Christians have been killed in the 20th century alone, mostly at the hands of Islamic and communist regimes. Socci's book has drawn both criticism and praise. Some call Socci a right-wing, anti-Muslim revisionist, while others hail his book as a wake-up call to the slumbering church in the West. But regardless of whether his numbers are accurate, information about the persecution of Christians is easily accessible online. While the story of Martin and Gracia Burnham are well known and well documented by the Western media (probably because they were American missionaries), their story of persecution at the hands of Muslim extremists was just the tip of the iceberg. Consider the following:

  • The global situation. Christians face persecution in more than 40 nations around the world.

  • Hounded, beaten, shot. Last August in India, Hindu militants in the village of Mehndikheda, Madhya Pradesh state, chased Christians from a Pentecostal prayer service and destroyed their meeting place. Two weeks later, near Calcutta, Hindu extremists burned Christian books they had seized from schoolchildren. A week later in Gujarat state, Hindus severely beat Methodist pastor Paul Christian and four of his church members for showing a film about Jesus.

  • Australian missionary killed in India. The missionary and his two sons were burned to death in their vehicle.

  • Flogged and deported. Saudi Arabian authorities on January 28 lashed three Ethiopian Christians 80 times each with a flexible metal cable in front of more than 1,000 detainees. The three Christians (whom authorities were about to deport because of their faith) smuggled a letter out of the Bremen Deportation Prison in Jeddah to describe their treatment. Officials beat and kicked them before suspending them with chains and flogging them, and Saudi authorities denied them medical care for back wounds.

  • Trends in Christian persecution. Fundamentalist Islam's growth in Africa and Asia, Hindu militancy in India, government oppression in China, North Korea and Laos all contribute to the persecution of the church.

  • The suffering church. Increasingly, Christians are harassed, arrested, interrogated, imprisoned, fined, or killed because of their religious beliefs and practices.

    :: Andrew 12:48 + ::
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