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The Scandal of Silence

Our Persecuted Brethren

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What do the Obama Administration, the media, and the bulk of American Christians have in common? Stay tuned to BreakPoint.

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John Stonestreet

It may be the scandal of 2012. And God forbid that it becomes the scandal of 2013.

Think back over this past year. What grabbed the attention of evangelical Christians? The presidential election. Mitt Romney’s Mormonism. Remember “Linsanity”—the excitement over the New York Knick’s Christian basketball star? There was the fight over religious freedom and the HHS mandate (although, let’s be clear, it’s taken many evangelicals far too long to pay attention to that threat). Social justice is a recurring theme, especially among younger Christians.

All well and good.

But something’s missing on the list. Something that should have the Church shouting from the rooftops. But instead, like the Obama Administration and the media, American Christians for the most part remained stone silent about the outrageous, brutal, and systematic persecution of Christians—especially in the Islamic world.

Look, I’m guilty too. This wasn’t on my radar until I recorded this weekend’s “BreakPoint This Week” radio show with WORLD magazine columnist Mindy Belz and Ed Stetzer of LifeWay Research. As we looked back at all the issues that Christians focused on in 2012, Mindy pointed out that the persecution of Christians is perhaps our biggest blind spot.

And she’s right. Mindy’s done a great job reporting on the murderous rampage of the Islamic group Boko Haram against Christians in Nigeria. Church bombings, machete attacks, targeted killing of church leaders. You name it.

Yet the Administration was silent. Or worse. A recent Wall Street Journal article quoted an administration official, who “sanitized the intentions of this murderous group” by claiming that "The bulk of the Boko Haram movement is . . . trying to do everything in its power to show that the (Nigerian) government is ineffective.”

But as the article points out, however, “two months before the official spoke, Boko Haram had claimed responsibility for the murder of dozens of Christians in the city of Jos—just one of many such attacks.”

And of course, it’s not just Nigeria. Entire Christian communities have disappeared in Iraq. In Syria, Christians are being targeted by Islamist radicals mixed in with the Syrian opposition forces. Mindy reported on this way back in February of 2012.

As Mindy reported, “According to … sources, Islamic militants fighting the regime of President Bashar al-Assad have killed more than 200 Christians in [Homs)… in recent days, including entire families with young children. They’ve also kidnapped Christians and demanded ransom payments.”

And that was almost a year ago! How many Syrian Christians have perished since? Just three days ago, the UK’s Daily Mail reported that Islamists beheaded a Christian taxi driver.

Where’s the American press? Again, why is this Administration silent? Writer Jeffrey Goldberg at the Atlantic may have the answer.

He wrote: “The most under-covered story these days is the sustained assault by Islamist terrorists on Christians . .  I don't know precisely why this story, and stories like it, disappear so quickly, though I assume it has something to do with the seeming unwillingness of Christian churches in the West to stand up for their persecuted brethren in countries like Nigeria.”

God have mercy on us if that’s true.

OK. So now what? What do we do? First, learn more about the issue. Come to BreakPoint.org; click on this commentary. We have got several articles there you need to read. We’ll also link you to my “BreakPoint This Week” interview with Mindy Belz and Ed Stetzer.

Second, talk about Christian persecution to your family and friends. Support groups that help persecuted Christians. Spread the word on Facebook and Twitter. Write or phone your congressman and the administration. Letters to the editor. Hey pastors, how about highlighting the persecuted church once a month from the pulpit? Whatever you can think of, do it.

But most of all, pray for our brothers and sisters persecuted for their faith. For their sake, we cannot remain silent.

 

Further Reading and Information

BreakPoint This Week
John Stonestreet | ColsonCenter.org | January 4, 2013

The Most Persecuted Religion
Abraham Cooper, John Huffman, and Yitzchock Alderstein | Wall Street Journal | December 21, 2012

Not all Bombing Victims Are Created Equal
Jeffrey Goldberg | The Atlantic | June 4, 2012

Your Kingdom Come
Mindy Belz | World Magazine | December 21, 2012

Syria’s Insurgency: Leading Middle East Expert Blames ‘Islamic Thugs’ for Violence
Mindy Belz | World Magazine | February 14, 2012

Syria rebels 'beheaded a Christian and fed him to the dogs' as fears grow over Islamist atrocities
Nick Fagge | The Daily Mail (UK) | December 30, 2012

Groups that help persecuted Christians:

International Christian Concern

Voice of the Martyrs

Freedom House

Open Doors


Comments:

Not All Of Us
This has not been a blindspot for me and I'm surprised that it has been for many of the bretheren. Is this true statistically? As a regular giver to VOM and Open Doors, I receive regular updates on the persecution of our fellow Christians around the world. The stories are brutal and very, very upsetting. If this is true then I hope this is indeed a wake-up call. Enough with the politics. We are called to "not to become weary in doing good....especially to those belonging to the family of believers" Gal 6:9-10. I find myself ashamed quite often if I start feeling sorry for myself after reading what our bretheren are suffering in the name of our Lord in those countries named in this report. Syria and Nigeria have been especially bad recently and the liberal media's reporting and coverage of it in this country absolutely stinks!
Why No Reporting
I have three hypotheses concerning the reason that Christians don't get involved in this issue:
1) They don't think of these people as Christians or as innocents,
2) Uneasiness with the issues of war and peace and Islam because of the legacy of the Crusades
3)General ambivalence about politics and war: the idea that what is to be expected in this dispensation can be changed through diplomacy and advocacy has not resonated with most evangelicals since the Civil War.

Most importantly, in connection to the ME, the split between Social Justice (liberals) and Evangelicals (conservatives) has been further politicized over the role of Islam and Israel, with the Left becoming increasingly anti-Israel and pro-Islam! and the Right pro-Israel and Islamophobic. These developments are definitely affecting the lack of interest in this issue.
This is easy to fugure out
Why is the media ignoring the killing of Christians at the hands of followers Islam? This is easy to figure out. Islamic groups are trying to sell people on the idea that islam means peace. It is politically incorrect to say that a certain religion (Islam) is committing acts of violence against another religion. (Christianity)
Amen! Amen!
I was lucky to be woken up re this blindspot. My biggest giving in 2012 was indeed to an org which helps persecuted brethren. Good to see this highlighted again. Praise God for another reminder!!