The recent bloody attack by terrorists on a mall in Nairobi, Kenya is only a glimpse at the worldwide problem, reports the Religious Freedom Coalition.
“During the four-day hostage stand-off by Somali al-Shabaab terrorists, these monsters raped, tortured, beheaded, dismembered, castrated, gouged out eyes, amputated fingers and hung hostages on hooks from the roof” after finding out that they were Christians.
So, “why aren’t Western Jesus-followers more aware or engaged on this issue?” asks Jonathan Merritt, author of A Faith of Our Own: Following Jesus Beyond the Culture Wars.
Seekiing the Lord
One reason, he says is that “Christian persecution is under-reported by the media. Paul Marshall of the Hudson Institute says that persecution, if you include discrimination, is affecting approximately 600 to 700 million Christians globally.
“According to a 2011 Pew Forum study, Christianity is the most persecuted religion in the world with followers of the faith being actively harassed in 130 countries.”
Crying out to the Lord
“If a population of half a billion people is so blatantly oppressed,” asks Merritt. “It’s difficult to understand why it isn’t making much news. The answer, in my opinion, is the location where much of the persecution occurs: the Middle East.
“Many journalists I speak with seem timid to delve too deeply into the topic or to report on it too often for fear of being perceived as Islamaphobes or outright racists.”
“I agree with The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg,” writes Merritt, “who remarked in USA Today that the persecution of Christians in the Middle East is ‘one of the most undercovered stories in international news.
“People can’t advocate for issues they aren’t aware of,” notes Merritt, “and to borrow from the Apostle Paul in Romans 10:14, “how will they hear if no one tells them?”
Rioters target a Coptic church
But the media is not alone in the guilt of silence. American church leaders seem to want to look the other way, too, says Merritt.
“A 2010 LifeWay Research survey reported that 79 percent of churches said the flailing economy had negatively impacted their congregation,” writes Merritt. “During recessions, churches often turn inward, not outward. When this happens, congregations disconnect from international communities where they previously maintained partnerships and subsequently grow less aware of the problems facing the global church.
“It’s not that they don’t care, but rather that they don’t know or perhaps they do know but are so focused on ‘more important’ initiatives that they can’t muster the energy to address them.”
“Why isn’t the mammoth Christian community of the world’s most influential nation in a tizzy over the persecution of Christians in the Middle East and around the world?” asks Merritt. “The answer, it seems, is that many of their attentions have been focused elsewhere.”
A child weeps for his slain family
Merritt says it’s no excuse for inaction. “Isn’t it time that American Christians reinvest their energies in addressing the actual persecution of their brothers and sisters happening outside their borders?”