Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Christians Are Persecuted Worldwide

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Christians Are Persecuted Worldwide

Article excerpt

In early April, a 75-year-old Dutch priest was shot dead in his monastery in Syria.

Father Frans van der Lugt had spent 50 years in Syria.

The priest was a pacifist trying to build coalitions in a country being ripped apart by religious extremism, according to The Wall Street Journal.

In the last year, 1,213 Christians were murdered in Syria, reported Tom Wilson in Commentary Magazine.

Other estimates are much higher.

Recently, church bells fell silent in Mosul, Iraq where extremists have enforced an intolerant version of Islam.

This senseless persecution is part of a worldwide trend. Christian minorities have been attacked in Libya, Sudan, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Iran and Pakistan, reported the Regional Center for Strategic Studies in Cairo.

This may come as a shock to Americans, but Christians are the most persecuted religious group worldwide.

Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, wrote in The New York Times, "Christians are dying because of their beliefs, because they are defenseless and because the world is indifferent to their suffering."

Christianity is the dominant religion in the United States. Yet American Christians only represent 10 percent of the world's followers of Christ.

In 2012, almost two-thirds of the world's 2.2 billion Christians lived outside of the West. That share will grow to three-quarters by 2050.

And Christianity is clearly growing in Asia and Africa.

For instance, Christians have increased from 9 percent of Africans to 63 percent.

And in 2010, Christians actually outnumbered Buddhists in Asia for the first time.

In the rest of the world Christians are being martyred and persecuted for a variety of reasons.

Some of them were touched on by author John Allen in his book "The Global War on Christians: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Anti-Christian Persecution."

"Anywhere Christians profess their faith openly, anywhere they take controversial stands in favor of social justice and human rights on the basis of their convictions***they are exposed to danger," Allen wrote.

MULTIPLE STIGMAS

Christians often are members of persecuted ethnic groups or unpopular social classes.

Why so little attention to the persecution of Christians? Many in the West have no experience with religious persecution.

A 2012 report by the Pew Forum noted a rising tide of religious persecution worldwide, with Christians facing harassment in more nations than any other religion.

In fact, three-quarters of the world's population live in countries with severe restrictions on religion.

Almost half the nations in the world have laws that treat certain religious practices as crimes. …

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