It may be the scandal of 2012. And God forbid that it becomes the scandal of 2013.
Think back over this past year. What grabbed the attention of evangelical Christians? The presidential election. Mitt Romney’s Mormonism. Remember “Linsanity” — the excitement over the New York Knicks Christian basketball star? There was the fight over religious freedom and the HHS mandate (although, let’s be clear, it’s taken many evangelicals far too long to pay attention to that threat). Social justice is a recurring theme, especially among younger Christians.
All well and good.
But something’s missing on the list. Something that should have the church shouting from the rooftops. But instead, like the Obama administration and the media, American Christians for the most part remained stone silent about the outrageous, brutal and systematic persecution of Christians — especially in the Islamic world.
Look, I’m guilty too. This wasn’t on my radar until I recorded this weekend’s “BreakPoint This Week” radio show with WORLD magazine columnist Mindy Belz and Ed Stetzer of LifeWay Research. As we looked back at all the issues that Christians focused on in 2012, Mindy pointed out that the persecution of Christians is perhaps our biggest blind spot.
And she’s right. Mindy’s done a great job reporting on the murderous rampage of the Islamic group Boko Haram against Christians in Nigeria. Church bombings, machete attacks, targeted killing of church leaders. You name it.
Yet the administration was silent. Or worse. A recent Wall Street Journal article quoted an administration official, who “sanitized the intentions of this murderous group” by claiming that "the bulk of the Boko Haram movement is ... trying to do everything in its power to show that the [Nigerian] government is ineffective.”
But as the article points out, however, “two months before the official spoke, Boko Haram had claimed responsibility for the murder of dozens of Christians in the city of Jos — just one of many such attacks.”
And of course, it’s not just Nigeria. Entire Christian communities have disappeared in Iraq. In Syria, Christians are being targeted by Islamist radicals mixed in with the Syrian opposition forces. Mindy reported on this way back in February of 2012.
As Mindy reported, “According to … sources, Islamic militants fighting the regime of President Bashar al-Assad have killed more than 200 Christians in [Homs]… in recent days, including entire families with young children. They’ve also kidnapped Christians and demanded ransom payments.”
And that was almost a year ago! How many Syrian Christians have perished since? Just three days ago, the UK’s Daily Mail reported that Islamists beheaded a Christian taxi driver.
Where’s the American press? Again, why is this administration silent? Writer Jeffrey Goldberg at the Atlantic may have the answer.
He wrote: “The most under-covered story these days is the sustained assault by Islamist terrorists on Christians. ... I don't know precisely why this story, and stories like it, disappear so quickly, though I assume it has something to do with the seeming unwillingness of Christian churches in the West to stand up for their persecuted brethren in countries like Nigeria.”
God have mercy on us if that’s true.
OK. So now what? What do we do? First, learn more about the issue. Come to BreakPoint.org; click on this commentary. We have got several articles there you need to read. We’ll also link you to my “BreakPoint This Week” interview with Mindy Belz and Ed Stetzer.
Second, talk about Christian persecution to your family and friends. Support groups that help persecuted Christians. Spread the word on Facebook and Twitter. Write or phone your congressman and the administration. Letters to the editor. Hey pastors, how about highlighting the persecuted church once a month from the pulpit? Whatever you can think of, do it.
But most of all, pray for our brothers and sisters persecuted for their faith. For their sake, we cannot remain silent.
John Stonestreet, the host of The Point, a daily national radio program, provides thought-provoking commentaries on current events and life issues from a biblical worldview. John holds degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (IL) and Bryan College (TN), and is the co-author of Making Sense of Your World: A Biblical Worldview.
BreakPoint commentary airs each weekday on more than one thousand outlets with an estimated listening audience of one million people. BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print.
Publication date: January 4, 2013