BY JAMES BEMBRIDGE
Imagine, if you will, a group so viciously persecuted in the world that eleven of them are slain every hour of every day and yet so few of the hours in our days are devoted to the reporting of their slaughter. This is the figure that religious scholar, Todd Johnson, alleges to be true in the case of Christians across the world.
When one thinks of injustices committed against Christians, radical Islam is imagined to be the sole aggressor, but in truth, the causes of Christian persecution are a farrago of social, political, economic and religious factors differing from region to region.
Persecution in the theocratic dictatorship of Iran, where converts from Islam to Christianity face imprisonment on the authority of apostasy fatwas; persecution in the atheistic, but no less authoritarian, nations of North Korea and China, which see religion as a threat to government authority and thus use spurious charges of subversion to arrest believers; persecution in Mexico by drug cartels who see the social justice campaigning of priests as being ‘bad for business’.
The atrocities carried out in these four countries alone would shock many a British churchgoer, to say nothing of the horrors committed in the de facto concentration camps of West Africa operated by Boko Haram.
So vast is the persecution that the driving factors are simply too multiplicitous and complex to explore in one article; therefore, it is my intention to devote an article every month to highlight the persecution specific to each area, its causes, and wherever possible, promote the charities and advocacy groups offering support to the local Christians.
Today I will focus on… well, why there’s such little focus on Christian martyrdom in our broadcast media. Despite originating in the Middle East, the religion of Christianity is viewed by much of the West as that of white, patriarchal oppressors. This ignores the glaring fact that the majority of Christians suffering persecution in the world are neither white nor powerful; in many of the countries designated as dangerous for them, Christians are often an ethnic minority with racism being, amongst other things, a motivation for their attacks.
Another reason for the mystifying lack of reporting is due to the majority of countries killing or suppressing Christians being developing ones. The insidious postmodernist philosophy known as ‘cultural relativism’ inhibits us from highlighting human rights violations in impoverished countries as that would be a Western power imposing their own standards onto a weaker one – colonialism by proxy. This infantilising of developing countries allows for some to view a Christian woman, beaten so severely that her uterus prolapses, as just a learning curve so long as the oppressors are deemed to be ‘in development’. If you found your child tearing the wings of insects, then would you not interfere lest they develop into homicidal maniacs?
Having been invited into the World Trade Organisation, China are now one of the leading powers of the world, yet their human rights record remains one of the worst – that is to say that economic development isn’t linked with the adoption of Western liberal values or democracy, confuting the argument that one should show restraint in the face of Christian genocide until the genocidaires are ‘on our level’.
There is a simpler reason why the plight of Christians generates such little publicity: it is happening in lands too far away and too culturally alien to be relatable to our Anglocentric minds.
So why isn’t the church talking about it? Well, the Church’s emphasis in recent years on interfaith dialogue has taken precedence over caring for its persecuted followers. Spokespersons for the Church are stifled with political correctness as they feel that any robust criticism of the Islamic countries in which Christians are victimised, could risk offending and alienating Muslim community leaders.
Then there is our government. Nothing illustrates the divide between Boris and May so clearly than his Christmas pledge to fight for the plight of persecuted Christians. Mrs. May refused asylum to a woman of our own country’s religion, sentenced to death for drinking water from a well which was reserved for the ruling religion of her land. 10 million people in Pakistan – a country that is in receipt of over £400 million in British aid – when polled, expressed their will to not only kill Asia Bibi, but to do so with their bare hands. Surely the woman would have been out of harm’s way in our country which prides itself on the virtues of tolerance and religious freedom? Not according to Theresa May, who justified declining Asia asylum by saying that her presence could lead to instability, and therefore her safety could not be guaranteed.
Religious television channels are in short supply, especially now that the Islamic faith channel, ‘Peace TV’, is facing a ban from Ofcom for broadcasting some decidedly not-so peaceful messages about homosexuals. So I was pleased to see Channel 4 reinvent itself with a theocratic edge, I even had hope that the plight of Christian’s may find an unlikely ally in the previously socially liberal News station.
In their general election coverage (clearly taking on board the charges of bias levelled against them) they devised a guest panel all belonging to the simpatico liberal media class – oh, and Stanley Johnson. I found myself evoking the warning of Star Wars’ Admiral Ackbar, ‘It’s a trap!’ Little did I know that it was to be an ‘Akbar’ related trap that Stanley would bulldoze into. The religious moral outrage that Stanley Johnson was subjected to for suggesting that the niqab may not be suitable wear for a fighter pilot, was worthy of Fox TV’s Bill O’Reilly. Reality TV star, Robert Rinder, seemed to undergo a Damascene conversion, such was the magnitude of his indignation that anyone could dare question the merits of the divisive – and in much of Europe, illegal – headwear.
You might think that if Channel 4 got this excited over a religious garment then the 100,000 Christians killed every year would warrant a small segment of their foreign affairs coverage – apparently not.
Campaigners for martyred Christians must promulgate the grim reality of what Christian persecution truly entails; burn into people’s retinas the images of their avulsed limbs so that ignorance may no longer be used to excuse inaction. If these methods work for animal welfare activists, then surely, they will work for humans whose welfare is worse than that of animals.