FaithZette

New Group Fights American Apathy Toward Persecuted Christians

Though it seldom makes news in the United States, the genocide of these faithful all over the globe is no longer conjecture

Rebuking “the cowardly silence” of people in peaceful regions far from hostile forces, Pope Francis explained last year how Christians are “killed, burned alive, throats slit, and beheaded with barbarous blades” in the Middle East, Asia, and China.

Apathetic religious leaders and laity enable genocide — and endanger religious freedoms that form the foundation of human liberty in America and abroad.

That’s why this past Valentine’s Day, a coalition of Americans launched a national campaign of banners placed outside houses of worship, calling on fellow Americans to save the persecuted Christians who are suffering discrimination, torture, rape, slavery, banishment, loss of property, and murder as punishment for belief in Jesus.

Though it seldom makes news in the United States, the genocide of Christians is no longer conjecture.

In its World Watch 2018 report, Open Doors USA says the Middle East genocide, recognized by the U.S. Congress and the Obama administration in March of 2016, martyred more than a million Christians in the decade between 2005 and 2015. More Christians died for their faith during the past 100 years than in all prior centuries combined since Jesus roamed the earth.

Christianophophia, a 2012 report for Civitas UK, confirms that Christianity is the most persecuted religion in the world. Report author Rupert Shortt said, “We may not want to hear it, but Christianity is in peril, like no other religion.”

While the Islamic State gets most of the attention, genocidal North Korean Stalinists, Chinese Communists, Pakistani nationalists, and Indian Hindus, among others, add to the Christian body count.

Meanwhile, American refugee policy favors Muslims over Christians. A 2017 Pew Research Center report found that 99 percent of nearly 12,600 Syrian refugees admitted to the United States in 2016 were Muslims, while less than 1 percent were Christians — even though Christians, at the time, represented 10 percent of Syria’s population.

Those familiar with the genocide and refugee bias typically encounter a startling lack of concern when discussing the dilemma with American Christians in the pews.

“A politically correct, secular doctrine in the United States views all Christians as a dominant class immune to oppression. But in much of the world, Christians are third-class citizens for whom oppression is a large part of daily life,” said Fr. Andre Mahanna, a founding member of the coalition, who also operates St. Rafka Mission of Hope and Mercy, an organization assisting Christian refugees. He is the North American councilor for the Vatican-associated Apostolic Union of Clergy.

In 2017, after President Donald Trump discussed his plan to balance the needs of religious minorities seeking refugee status, a significant list of leading Christians refused to back him up. Instead, they balked at the idea of adjusting federal policies that favor Muslims, even during a mass genocide of Christians at the hands of Islamic extremists.

The New York Times published a story under the headline, “Christian Leaders Denounce Trump’s Plan to Favor Christian Refugees.” In it, The Times reported, “A broad array of clergy members has strongly denounced Mr. Trump’s order as discriminatory, misguided and inhumane.”

The Save the Persecuted Christians coalition has no interest in obstructing persecuted Muslims who seek refuge in the United States.

Related: A Look Back at 100 Years of Christian Persecution

The organization seeks only to raise awareness that can substantially reduce and deter the increasing worldwide persecution and extermination of Christians. The group will educate Americans about an estimated 215 million brutalized Christians whose stories get scant attention from traditional media. 

“We will do this because Christians have a biblical obligation to defend innocent lives. We do so because American indifference to Christian persecution abroad threatens religious liberty at home,” said Fr. Mahanna, a naturalized American citizen who grew up surviving anti-Christian persecution in Lebanon. 

“The United States is the modern guardian of religious liberty.”

He continued, “The United States is the modern guardian of religious liberty, which is a principle upon which our founders established this country. If American Christians are silent about the slaughter of fellow Christians abroad, they endanger liberty itself. Indifference and apathy are conditions that threaten the religious freedom described in the First Amendment — the freedom people come here for.” 

Save the Persecuted Christians, a rapidly growing coalition, begins its mission with the guidance of 33 founding members who represent a broad array of cultural, political and faith-based groups working to end the slaughter of our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Dede Laugesen is community awareness director of St. Rafka Mission of Hope and Mercy and a founding member of Save the Persecuted Christians