Thursday, December 4, 2008

Modern Christian Martyrdom Part 2

While Christians in the secular West languish in spiritual mediocrity, Christianity remains a deadly serious matter almost everywhere else on the planet.

The world’s 2.1 billion Christians are a religious minority in eighty-seven countries. The Geneva Report of 2002 estimates that up to 200 million Christians are being denied their full human rights, as defined by the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, simply because they are Christians. Since 2000, there have been forty countries where at least one verifiable death attributable to anti-Christian violence has occurred.

According to a report by the Catholic aid group Aid to the Church in Need, Asia and the Middle East are the most dangerous places in the world for Christians. These areas represent six of the eleven countries listed as “Countries of Particular Concern” by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom because of “ongoing egregious violations of religious freedom.”

In Egypt, Christians are frequently arrested, tortured, and imprisoned just for converting. In early 2005, for example, Gaseer Mohamed Mahmoud, a Christian convert, was tortured for refusing to renounce Christ. His toenails were pulled out and he was kept in a water-filled room, beaten, whipped, and confined to a mental hospital. Only pressure from the international community saved his life. He was released and is now in hiding.

In Saudi Arabia, it is considered a religious obligation for Muslims to hate Christians and Jews. Apostasy from Islam warrants a death sentence. The Saudi Ministry of Education textbooks for elementary and secondary school children demonize Christians, Jews, and non-Wahhabi Muslims. The reports of harassment, surveillance, arrest, and torture of Christians in Saudi Arabia are too numerous to relate in this article.

In Bangladesh, Christians are being denied access to water wells and are frequent targets of physical violence and destruction of property.

In Turkey, they are denied access to civil and military jobs, and it is almost impossible to build churches.

Voice of the Martyrs, a worldwide organization offering support to persecuted Christians, reports that extremist groups in Indonesia are responsible for the deaths of 8,000 people and the destruction of 600 churches since 1996. This is in addition to the bloody twenty-five-year occupation of the small Catholic country of East Timor that ended in 1999 and left one-third of the Timorese population (200,000, the majority of whom are Catholics) dead. An estimated 100,000 are still being held as political prisoners.

The Chinese government continues to detain and repress thousands of Christians and other religious minorities. Anyone caught worshiping outside state-controlled churches is subject to arrest. The Cardinal Kung Foundation, founded by Joseph C. Kung, nephew of Cardinal Kung Pin-Mei, estimates that there are approximately forty-five bishops in China who remain loyal to Rome and who have been arrested or jailed or have gone into hiding or have simply disappeared in recent years.

“Christians are, in fact, the most persecuted religious group in the world today, with the greatest number of victims,” reports Nina Shea, director of Freedom House’s Puebla Program on Religious Freedom.

“The most atrocious human rights abuses are committed against Christians solely because of their religious beliefs and activities—atrocities such as torture, enslavement, rape, imprisonment, killings, and even crucifixion. Roman Catholics, together with Protestant evangelicals, are the prime targets.”

Part 1

More information at Catholic Answers

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