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Christian Persecution: A Reality Too Close to Ignore

Christian Persecution: A Reality Too Close to Ignore

A crucifix stands near a damaged structure at the scene of a car bomb explosion at St. Theresa Catholic Church at Madalla, Suleja, just outside Nigeria's capital Abuja, on Dec. 25, 2011. | (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

Violent persecution of Christians around the world has risen to all-time highs. Murders, beheadings, rapes, imprisonments and evil of all types are increasingly befalling Christians. This ugly reality demands a response. While Christian persecution is nothing new, today it comes in various forms and for various reasons.

How shall American Christians respond when their spiritual brethren are suffering persecution? The choices are only two: ignore it or responsibly respond to it. Ignoring anti-Christian violence is convenient and painless, but it is also lazy and irresponsible. Turning from it may temporarily relieve our unease and numb our sense of moral obligation, but we only fool ourselves. Willful ignorance of evil is fatal because it provides an illusory sense of peace. Ignoring evil cannot stop it, especially when it is aggressively on the march like it is today.

History is replete with the disastrous results of ignoring evil's spread. The U.K.'s Neville Chamberlain gave it a try in his fateful 1938 discussions with Hitler. One day, he publicly announced, "peace for our time." Within six months, though, Hitler began his blitzkrieg offensives, and the death of millions followed. American Christians cannot afford to be so gullible. We either respond to evil, or blithely wait for its angry fist to pound upon the front doors of ourselves, our children or grandchildren.

It's time to wake up.

Evil in any form loves darkness. It likes to hide and creep up on its victims. Evil cannot stand the light, nor does it have an affinity for life. As former Hamas Prime Minister, Ismail Haniyeh, triumphantly declared, "We love death like our enemies love life!"

While persecution of Christians spreads like a virulent global cancer, we ask: How far has it metastasized? Where is it happening, and what drives it?

According to trustworthy organizations like Open Doors USA and The Voice of the Martyrs, there is more persecution of Christians today than at any other time in history. On average, 255 Christians are murdered, 104 are abducted, 180 Christian women are raped, sexually harassed or forced into marriage, 66 churches are attacked, and 160 Christians are detained or imprisoned without trial because of their faith. These numbers represent only what is known.

According to the U. S. State Department, Christians in more than 60 countries face persecution from their governments or their neighbors because of their personal faith in Jesus Christ.

Islamists aren't the only threat Christians face. Despotic governments are well-known Christian persecutors. North Korea sits atop the list of nations systematically targeting Christians, followed by Afghanistan, Somalia, Pakistan and Sudan. Persecution is on the rise in China and India as well.

These facts should grip the heart of every American Christian. As we empathize and identify with our brothers and sisters in these lands, we must also acknowledge signs of persecution popping up within our own borders. This is not a time for ignorance.

The most common denominator driving all forms of Christian persecution is any ideology that rejects the God of the Bible and Jesus Christ, or Yeshua, as Creator, Judge and Redeemer. The Judeo-Christian worldview sees life as the sacred gift of a loving but just Creator God. Those rejecting this worldview in lieu of political power, dreams of a global caliphate or Utopia are inherently primed to persecute Christians. That has been part of the history of many civilizations.

Where America's Declaration and Constitution honor and reflect the Judeo-Christian worldview, most governments are antithetical to it. The decline of Christianity in Western Europe is a prime example. When religion devoted to evil and an arrogant civil government combine, such as with Islam, they become the worst of Christian persecutors—aggressive, vicious and deadly.

North Korea is just the latest example of applied atheistic political thought. North Korea's blood relatives include regimes built on Marxism, Communism, Fascism or Nazism. These systems have their intellectual roots in 19th century thought, denying, like Darwin, the reality of a Creator God as a fundamental tenet. These governments tend to favor materialism and humanism, rejecting the God of the Bible, and often not satisfied to just let Christians be.

Islamic ideology teaches Muslims to hate Christians because they're not Muslims and won't knuckle under to their false god. Tyrants hate Christians because they have been spiritually and mentally set free, liberated as individuals and knowing better than to recognize government as supreme authority. Those who cannot be controlled, the state eventually declares, must go. Within America, there are progressives who hate Christians because Christianity is "unfair."

Many American progressives dismiss God as a fantasy, an unneeded crutch. You will hear them claim they cannot believe in a god who permits evil. The most enraging factor to this breed of progressive, however, is the perceived injustice of Christianity's exclusive claim on moral truth, to the exclusion of other religions.

This is intolerable to the progressive because "equality" of outcome is more important than anything else. Though equal outcomes are both theoretically and practically impossible, this defines justice for most progressives and makes Christianity's exclusive claim to the truth embodied in Jesus Christ abhorrent.

To the radical progressive, God is fine if He remains ethereal, ill-defined, amorphous and open to self-definition. But once you place God in traceable history, document His personal dealings with mankind, and dare claim that God came to earth and took on flesh in the person of Jesus Christ—who claims to be the only way, the only truth and the only life—you've got yourself a first-class scandal, the scandal of the Specific God! This makes the American radical progressive activist potentially just as dangerous to Christians as the Islamic terrorist or the tyrant of a godless regime.

The rise of anti-Christian ideologies in the 20th century resulted in more sheer death and destruction than occurred in all of history up until then. The number of those killed in world wars, purges and genocides is so large that historians can't agree on the totals. A conservative estimate is that from 150 million to 200 million people were killed, starved or dead of disease as a direct result of actions of 20th century regimes built on anti-Christian values.

Today, the most egregious and aggressive source of Christian persecution worldwide is Islam. Whether Sunni, Shiite or Sufi, this destructive ideology mandates its followers kill, rape or otherwise persecute all who will not bow to their false Prophet Muhammad. Islam spread rapidly through violence in the seventh century. Nothing has changed. Today, in addition to Jews, Christians are directly in Islam's crosshairs.

Christians must first know about the violence befalling Christians in other nations and responsibility respond. Boldly telling the truth about such relevant issues is one of the primary objectives of the American Pastors Network. Pastors must speak to the issue. Being silent means enabling. The first step is learning. Then fervent effectual prayer must be made on behalf of suffering Christians in these places far off the radar screen of our everyday lives.

Christians can learn more from a new nationwide effort to bring public awareness of the worldwide persecution of Christians to the forefront. Visit www.SavethePersecutedChristians.org.

Christian, do not be willingly ignorant. Be intentionally informed and responsibly respond. Stand in the gap now!

Sam Rohrer is president of the American Pastors Network, a national network of pastors with constitutional and biblical teachings that discusses today's pressing issues. He was a Pennsylvania lawmaker for 18 years and hosts the daily "Stand in the Gap Today" national radio program on 425 stations.

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