A study by the Pew Research Center (click here for the study) showed that though religious persecution has dropped in the world, persecution of the followers of the 3 major monotheistic religions has increased in terms of the number of countries where persecution is experienced. According to the study, religious persecution can come from one of two sources: governmental harrassment and social hostitlity.
In addition, Christianity was the most persecuted religion as measured by the number of nations which persecutes a religion. However, though the number of nations in which there was government harrassment of Jews and Christian dropped, the number of nations in which these two religions faced social harrassment increased. The trend for Muslims was just the opposite.
Why is this important for religious followers especially for my fellow Christians? It is important because we might be witnessing history repeating itself. A point made several times by this blog is that because the Church had supported wealth and power during the pre-revolutionary times of the French, Russian, and Spanish Revolutions, there was payback during each of these respective revolutions. That payback consisted of physical persecutions as well as a general discrediting of the Gospel itself. So while we witness an increase in the number of nations where Christians, Muslims, and Jews are persecuted, we should ask this all important question: Why are they being persecuted?
It is not a stretch of the imagination, though the research from the Pew Research Center does not cover this, to think that there is a positive correlation betewen the political practices and ideologies supported by or associated with these religions and the persecution they experience. For the followers of each of these religions are, at the least, perceived to be very politically involved. Christianity has been highly associated with America's foreign policies, especially those policies that support even our current form of Capitalism as well as foreign policies that support empire and Israel's brutal Occupation against the Palestinians. In addition, Christians from certain Middle Eastern nations like Syria and Egypt, while opposing Israel's Occupation against the Palestinians, have and currently support tyrants because those tyrants have offered them protection from others. And because Islam is a religon of justice, it is highly involved in politics where it is hoped that government is used to bring justice to those suffering. But sometimes the governments they support oppress or threaten to oppress others or they secretly supported by governments to practice terrorism elsewhere. And finally, Judaism is highly associated with the Modern Zionist venture called Israel. That is not to say that all religious Jews support Modern Zionism, not all do. But there is the perception that enough Jews support Modern Zionism so that Judaism is strongly associated with Modern Zionism.
At this point though, an important condition must be made. Whether a persecuted religion is seen as supporting wealth and power depends on which nation the followers of a particular religion reside. At the same time, the linkage of a religion with wealth and power from one's own or another nation could cause local persecution in retribution for what is done by that nation's leaders. So Christians and Jews around the world, especially in nations where there is a significant number of conservative Muslims, can be easily persecuted for their support of Modern Zionism or Western Imperialism just as Muslims here could be targeted in Israel or Western nations because of the terrorist practices of some well-funded Islamic terrorists or because of the anticipated policies of nations like Iran.
Thus, we see that throughout the world, religious people can suffer persecution if their religion is seen supporting those with wealth and power who oppress others. And for us Christians, we have had enough historical examples of that process where supporting wealth and power leads to one's persecution and the dishonoring of the Gospel to not know better and to not change. Isn't it time we learn and act on that history?
|This Month's Scripture Verse:|
Whoever loves money never has enough;
whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income.
This too is meaningless -- Ecclesiastes 5:10