The quote above is from the following video. It is a comment offered by John Allen (the widely respected Catholic journalist, and the presenter in the video) as a reason why the statistics he is about to give are not widely reported in the West. Allen says that the persecution of Christians for their fidelity to the faith falls into the West’s ideological blind spot.
The video is a long and detailed summary of the persecution of Christians: 80% of all people killed for their faith in the world today are Christians, and there are 150,000 Christians killed every year.
Thomas L. McDonald, on whose blog I found this video, says:
Next time you hear some whinging nonsense about the horrible way Muslims are treated in America (the most tolerant, least racist nation in the world), try to keep that number in mind, because those 80% aren’t people made to feel uncomfortable for wearing a burka, or subject to extra scrutiny at the airport.
Below the video, I’ve given you a rough time log of the main sections of Allen’s talk.
There’s quite a long lead in. It’s more than five minutes into the video before he gets going on the topic.
5:45 Allen starts by pointing out that in the US a threat to your religious freedom might be getting sued; in other places in the world, you might get shot. He then gives us the shape of the speech: an overview, four case studies, and five common myths.
7:30 The overview. Allen quotes (and gives support for) three statististics, two of which I’ve quoted above: 80% of all harrassment and persecution incidents are against Christians; there is harrassment and persecution in 133 nations (that is, two thirds of the world’s nations); 150,000 Christians are killed every year.
12:30 Case study 1: Iraq, where a 2,000 year-old population of Christians has dropped in ten years from two million to an estimated 250,000. Of 63 Christian churches, 40 have been bombed at least once. The attack on Our Lady of Salvation was exceptional even in this environment – 36 innocent people shot and killed. It is a moral scandal that this incident and other similar incidents have been well nigh forgotten. Allen says that if we took 10% of the energy we invest on issues like the wording of the Mass and committed it to communities like those in Iraq, we would change the world.
17:20 Case Study 2: Egypt, where Christian desperately fear that the Arab Spring will be the Christian Winter. Christians in Egypt are calling the attack on the Maspero demonstrations and other similar incidents Egypt’s Krystallnacht. Allen says that Christians have been criticised for supporting dictators, but that their choice is not between a police state and democracy, but between a police state and annihilation.
21.15 Case Study 3: Nigeria, where the population of 200 million is more or less evenly divided between Christians and Muslims. The change of the Boko Haram (peaceful for its first 7 years, but increasingly violent since 2009) has seen a worrying increase in attacks on Christians. The name means “Western education is a sacrilege”, which lets you know where they’re coming from. Allen says there have been 12 threats to the life of one Catholic archbishop in just the last three months, and – as you may remember – a number of churches were bombed on Christmas Day in 2011, including St Theresa’s Catholic Church where at least 37 people died.
23:45 Case Study 4: India, where Hindi extremists have left behind the historic tolerance of their faith to attack Christians and Muslims. Allen told some stories, including that of Orissa, where riots led to many deaths, 100s of injuries, and 1000s of people being left homeless. (Note that the Wikipedia article I linked to here has been disputed as being inaccurate and favourable to Hindi extremists).
26:35 Myth 1: Christians are only vulnerable when they’re in a minority. Allen says that 250 million Christians live in countries where they are minorities, so even if the myth was true, it would still be a significant problem. However, the myth is not true. For example, in 2011, 26 pastoral workers were killed – 25 of them in countries with Christian majorities.
30.00 Myth 2: Persecution is all about Islam. In percentage terms, Islamic persecution is the largest. But Christians are also harrassed, persecuted and killed by Hindi, Buddhist, and other Christian extremists, and by corporates, state security and organised crime.
31:45 Myth 3: Killings come out of the blue. There are signs long before people start dying. For example, the assassination in 2010 in Turkey of Bishop Padovese (and the lack of a adequate investigation) was preceded by a long list of beatings of deaths, and the 2009 publication by a Turkish paper of the Cage Operation Action Plan – a plot allegedly by radical elements in Naval Forces Command to get rid of non-Muslims in Turkey.
35:15 Myth 4: It’s only persecution of Christians if the person is hated for their faith. Allen says that what matters is whether the person is in the firing line because of their faith, not whether the person attacking them hates their faith, or sees people of that faith as representatives of something else they hate (such as Western hegemony), or simply hurts or kills them in the process of a crime (such as a robbery).
36:50 Myth 5: It’s a right wing issue/it’s a left wing issue. Allen says it is an ideological sickness to see this as a political issue.
40:38 What can we do? Allen says we can:
- think globally
- practice political activism on this issue
- provide direct humanitarian assistance
- help resettle refugees
- enter into North-South partnerships.
43:00 Allen concludes that we need to get our own act together and stop fighting among ourselves about trivia. Our reaction to differences between us and other Catholics, and us and other Christians, should be a patient search for understanding, not cheap point scoring. We form tribalistic enclaves, and the way they react to one another is scandalous, and must stop.
56:30 to end. Allen took and answered 10 questions.
It’s all thought-provoking stuff. Set aside some time and take a look. It’s long, but it’s worth it.