Religious persecution. Its becoming a hot topic, with a protest against it gathering strong momentum around the world. Its about time.
The effort was initiated mostly by those active on the Religious Right, and their particular focus started with the persecution of Christians in particular at the hands of radical Islamic and Communist regimes. The stories coming out are indeed harrowing, including torture, rape, and summary executions for simple acts of prayer and worship. Christian identity itself has become a crime punishable by death in some places. A dedicated group of conservative religious activists has led this campaign and challenged other Christian groups to stand up for their imperiled brothers and sisters.
In his book Their Blood Cries Out, Paul Marshall extensively documents the widespread scope and brutal character of modern religious persecution. He also takes to task Christian groups that have not made the religious persecution he describes a priority, and accuses them of selective concern for human rights based on their own political preferences. Sojourners and myself are among those singled out for criticism.
Its a fair criticism, in part. I must admit to not realizing how serious and widespread such persecution of Christian believers had become. At a recent summit on religious persecution in Washington, D.C., Chuck Colson spoke for others of us in the room when he said that, until recently, many of us simply didnt know the extent of the situation. Those who are leading the new campaign against religious persecution, therefore, deserve credit for bringing such a critical issue to wider attention.