Greg Strand is EFCA executive director of theology and credentialing, and he serves on the Board of Ministerial Standing as well as the Spiritual Heritage Committee. He and his family are members of Northfield (Minnesota) EFC.
Christians in the Middle East and Africa are being martyred for their faith. The numbers and the atrocities are astronomical. One incident with few deaths would be too many. But the incidences of this “slaughter” recur with the deaths of many Christians. And many of these murders are committed by Muslims.
Kirsten Powers, “A Global Slaughter of Christians, but America’s Churches Stay Silent,” writes of these atrocities and impugns the church in the America for its deafening silence.
Christians in the Middle East and Africa are being slaughtered, tortured, raped, kidnapped, beheaded, and forced to flee the birthplace of Christianity. One would think this horror might be consuming the pulpits and pews of American churches. Not so. The silence has been nearly deafening.
Powers refers to the book Saturday People, Sunday People, the title which is an Islamist slogan, “First Saturday People, then the Sunday People.” To the Muslim this means that “first we kill the Jews, then we kill the Christians.”
The recent attacks on this Sunday People, Christians, have occurred in Egypt, Pakistan, Kenya, and Syria. These brutal attacks on Christians because they are Christians ought to be condemned, particularly by Western Christians. Christians in the West are able to collaborate and cooperate on moral and ethical issues of concern. “Yet,” writes Powers, “religious persecution appears not to have grabbed their attention, despite the worldwide media coverage of the atrocities against Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East.”
Molly Hemingway also addressed this vital and important issue: “Can We Finally Start Talking About the Global Persecution of Christians?.” She notes, quoting from Persecuted: The Global Assault on Christians,
Christians are the single most widely persecuted religious group in the world today. This is confirmed in studies by sources as diverse as the Vatican, Open Doors, the Pew Research Center, Commentary, Newsweek and the Economist. According to one estimate, by the Catholic Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community, 75 percent of acts of religious intolerance are directed against Christians.
Hemingway points to the silence of the media to address these heinous acts of evil committed against Christians, and then if/when they do publish anything about them, their explanations of the evil acts are often cloaked in politically correct language so as not speak anything negative against Islam. In fact, not only is there a fear of saying anything negative about Islam, the general tendency is to say something positive that may be partially true or not true at all.
Not only is this the general approach of the media, it is also of politicians. Regarding the commonly stated solution to this Muslim violence against Christians as an aberration because Islam is a religion of peace, Hemingway notes,
One problem with this approach, and I’m not even talking about the 1300 years of history that speaks to the use of violence in pursuit of the spread of Islam, is that the politicians claiming Islam is nothing more than a peaceful religion usually aren't exegetical experts.
In order for a conversation to occur regarding the “persecution of Christians and others at the hands of Muslims,” Hemingway lays some groundwork for journalists, politicians and the Christian Church. I conclude with her words to the church.
However much we may wish Muslim violence against Christians would resolve itself or go away, being in denial serves no purpose. To combat the persecution of Christians and other religious minorities, we must first acknowledge its existence. And we need to be clear about exactly who is perpetrating violence against Christians and what is motivating them.
As Dietrich Bonhoeffer believed, lived, wrote and died, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”
God has the last word on this matter as recorded in the Word.
“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Rom. 12:15).
“If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together” (1 Cor. 12:26).
“Remember . . . those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body” (Heb. 13:3).