There have been serious attacks on people of faith around the globe and many Christians seem to be unperturbed by what is happening. It is often very disheartening to read how Christians are subjected to all manners of intimidation, violence, and humiliation simply because they openly identify with Christ.
This was how it started in Nigeria. There were no strong dissenting voices that opposed the abuse of the fundamental human rights of Christians. It started from marginalization, social exclusion, and persecution in their work places before it turned to physical attacks and mass murders, which is now the order of the day.
The fight for religious freedom should be taken seriously by all Christians now that it is still very early in some countries. Kelly Shackelford, president and CEO of First Liberty Institute, is doing a great job in America in standing up for the rights of Christians everywhere. I urge every Christian in America to give him and his team their support to fight for religious freedom.
The ongoing abuse of the rights of Christians can only continue if those who are supposed to speak keep quiet because they are not victimized. Martin Niemöller, a prominent pastor in Germany, famously said: “First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out — because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.”
This is what is happening in Nigeria today.
When they kill a Catholic priest, the Pentecostals will keep quiet. When they kill a Pentecostal pastor, other denominations keep quiet. This trend was allowed to continue until the present day; and now, it’s everywhere. According to Pastor Bosun, “In 2018, we can say in 25 years from now, we are facing the risk of being the last Christians in Nigeria. Therefore, Christians should be on the frontline of defending democracy in Nigeria. The Church is the bastion of democracy. A divided Christian Association of Nigeria cannot defend democracy and promote justice, equity, and fairness. Consequently, Sharia will grow stronger. As Sharia grows stronger, democracy will become weaker, and the Church will be emasculated out of existence.”
Is this prophecy not coming to pass? The population of Christians is being depleted daily, and missionaries can no longer work in many communities today for fear of being attacked. Is Christianity not being wiped out in Nigeria? No matter how bitter the truth may sound, the reality is that we are facing the consequences of our negligence of not defending our brothers and sisters when we are supposed to. The southern Christians kept quiet because it was the northerners who were attacked. Now, they are attacked everywhere, including in the south.
Many years ago, some pastors and I attended a meeting with government officials in one of the states in Nigeria, and the Commissioner of Environment said to us: “Don't you know that Christians are second-class citizens in Nigeria?” I realize now just how right he was.
Fellow Christians, arise and fight for religious freedom wherever you can and however you can. Otherwise, it won’t be long before those rights disappear completely.