Christians 'Chief Victims of Religious Persecution': Author Says Freedom of Faith at a Premium in the East

Article excerpt

"Fear not: For behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy." Every Christian knows what the angel said to those shepherds 20 centuries ago in Bethlehem. In the United States, where history's most powerful community of Christians dwells in peace and prosperity, the story of Jesus has indeed proved a fount of good tidings.

But for millions of Christians in other lands, fear is always present. Never before have so many been persecuted for their faith. "Christians are the chief victims of ... religious persecution around the world today," writes Nina Shea of Freedom House, the human-rights organization. "In many countries they suffer not just discrimination or bigotry but torture, imprisonment and the ultimate test of faith, martyrdom."

Ms. Shea is the author of In the Lion's Den, one of two forthcoming books documenting the global plague of anti-Christian persecution. The other is Their Blood Cries Out, by Paul Marshall, a senior academic at the Institute for Christian Studies in Toronto. Both will come as a jolt to anyone who imagines that violence against Christians ended with the Roman Empire.

It is true that over the span of Western history, Christians have been guilty of brutal atrocities. From the Crusades to the Inquisition to the blood libels of Czarist Russia, horrifying evil has been committed in Jesus' name. But today in the East, it is Christians who are hunted and martyred. Wherever militant Islam has taken hold and wherever Communist dictators still rule, Christians are in desperate danger.

The testimony with which Ms. Shea and Dr. Marshall have filled their books is heart-stopping.

China: "The officers stripped three brethren (in Shaanxi Province) naked from the waist... The three men were beaten until they were totally covered with blood and had gaping wounds and injuries all over their bodies." The victims were Protestants. …