Culture & Religion
January Wed 15, 2014
“Christians are the most persecuted group in the world and much of this persecution is connected to the commitment of the church to freedom.” This is stated by Paul Marshall, an American professor of the Hudson Institute and author of seven books on anti-Christian persecution in the world. Currently, Professor Marshall is working on a new essay titled “Who Persecutes Christians -- and Why?” to focus on the global situation often ignored by the media, of the persecution and torture inflicted on Christians in Eritrea, the killing of thousands of Christians by terrorists in Nigeria and the area of Al-Shabaab in Somalia to remove Christians from their territory. Professor Marshall agreed to speak with ilsussidiario.net for a preview. What is the main thesis of your new essay “Who Persecutes Christians – and Why”?
My thesis is that Christians are the most widely religiously persecuted group in the world and much of this persecution is connected to the commitment of the church to freedom. There are five major patterns:
--The remaining Communist countries
--South Asian religious nationalism
--Islamic extremism. This is now the most widespread, and it is one that is growing.
--Western secularism. This is certainly not at the same level or as extreme as the other four, but it is growing in countries that have had a good historic record of religious freedom, and so it needs to be mentioned. Recently Pope Francis stated that nowadays anti-Christian persecution is worse than in the early centuries of Christianity. Do you agree with him or not, and why?
I would find it hard to answer that question since the number and spread of Christians is now far greater than in the earliest centuries, so the situations are difficult to compare. With that proviso, we can certainly say that many more Christians are persecuted now and they are persecuted in many more places. We know that many countries where Christians are persecuted are ignored by the media. In your opinion, which one of the forgotten persecutions is the most serious?
Again, there are so many that it is hard to pick one. The vicious persecution and torture of Christians in Eritrea, the killing of thousands of Christians by terrorists in Nigeria, and the campaign by Al-Shabaab in Somalia to exterminate every Christian in their territory are three grossly underreported stories. But there are many more that get little coverage. Islamic fundamentalism is one of the main causes of anti-Christian persecution. Is it just a matter of religious fanaticism, or is there a strategy behind it?
For some it is just fanaticism, but with terrorist groups their fanaticism is tied to the goal of killing, expelling or converting all the Christians that they can. How serious is the persecution against Christians in China actually?
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