Tuesday, January 14, 2014
"The New Age of Christian Martyrdom"
That's what the Daily Beast calls our present era, pointing out that "Lions have been replaced by firing squads and concentration camps as record numbers of Jesus’ worshipers are persecuted from Syria to North Korea". I recommend reading their report in full. They're not exaggerating.
Their article covers many of the higher-profile persecutions of Christians and Christianity, but doesn't go into detail about the many, many other countries where to be sincerely Christian is to risk at best scorn and ridicule, perhaps deprivation of civil liberties or being fired from one's job, and at worst being subjected to sectarian violence. It's just as bad when Christian sects turn on each other in the name of doctrinal purity and private 'revelation', such as is rife in parts of Western and Central Africa.
I'd like to ask those of my readers who are Christian to pray for our brothers and sisters facing such trials, and contribute to their support as best we can. Numerous denominations have their own funds for the purpose, or there's the interdenominational Barnabas Fund (of which I don't have personal experience, but I've heard good reports). The Pope has also appealed to Catholics to support persecuted Christians. A very worthwhile Catholic charity for such purposes is Aid to the Church in Need, founded after World War II by the so-called 'bacon priest', Fr. Werenfried van Straaten.
It's good to be reminded that those of us who are free to worship (or not) as we please are probably in a minority around the world. There are far more who risk life and limb to exercise their faith.