Persecution Looms in the West, Says Commission

Despite centuries of Christian history, European countries and Western nations in general are gradually turning from their Christian roots and accepting secularistic positions, according to the Religious Liberty Commission (RLC) of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA).

"It is now more difficult for Christians to freely express their faith and for Christian ministers to preach from the Bible without being criticized, fined, sued or even sent to prison," the RLC reported Wednesday.

While most people tend to think of persecution of Christians in Muslim or Communist countries, the RLC said that in many post-Christian countries the word 'persecution' may soon be a stark reality as a Christian religious majority gradually becomes an unwelcome minority. "This trend is not so much due to large numbers migrating from non-Christian countries as to the reluctance of the population to maintain their former Christian heritage," the Commission stated in their Prayer Bulletin.

"While a post-Christian humanistic society may still accept Christian cultural traditions as being entertaining and relaxing, the Christian moral and spiritual traditions are rejected as intolerant and old-fashioned," added the RLC.

According to the Commission, some Christian leaders in recent years have expressed a mounting concern for declining Christian global influence and the world's growing hostility to the Christian faith.

In March 2004, Rev. Bob Frost, President of UK-based Release International, said of Britain and Europe, "We are closer to persecution today than at any time in my life."

Frost further expressed that Christians must be prepared for persecution soon as growing restrictions are being imposed on religious freedom in many countries across Europe.

News agencies have reported that in Europe today "Christians are mocked for their faith. Many young couples are ostracized socially if they want a lot of children. Those who oppose same-sex 'marriage' are considered intolerant.'"

Meanwhile in the U.S., the Texas-based Liberty Legal Institute (LLI)--which fights to protect religious freedoms and First Amendment rights for individuals, groups, and churches--presented some Senate members with a Hostility to Religious Expression Document in October 2004. The document detailed cases of discrimination or hostility towards believers. According to the RLC, the LLI specialists think there is a campaign aimed at purging any religious expression from public life. In one reported incident, a 12-year-old student was reprimanded at his school in St. Louis for quietly saying a prayer before eating. A schoolgirl in Colorado was banned from bringing a Bible to school. Teachers also can suffer because of their faith, RLC reported.

"This growing secularism and intolerance is especially obvious at all levels of education," the RLC wrote.

In November 2004 it was reported that a Californian history teacher was prohibited from referring to historical documents where God is mentioned, such as parts of the Declaration of Independence and George Washington's journal.

"Increasingly, Western Christians need to be aware of the coming danger and prepare for it. The imperative is true spiritual revival in the West," the RLC said.

The World Evangelical Alliance RLC serves as a coordinating and networking team within the international advocacy community on behalf of Christians persecuted for their faith. Through the RLC, WEA has observer status at the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. Research and development are key functions of the RLC.