Not ‘War on Christmas’
Now, this is not about clerks who say “Happy Holidays” or bans of nativity scenes in public schools. Merkel spoke of real persecution of hundreds of millions of Christians around the world. Indeed, a 2011 Pew Forum study found that Christians are harassed in 130 countries, more than any of the world’s other religions.
The just-released book Persecuted: The Global Assault on Christians provides the gory details behind these statistics. Persecuted is a collaboration of the Hudson Institute’s Nina Shea, Paul Marshall and Lela Gilbert to catalog the human rights abuses visited upon Christian believers from North Korea to Mali. They define this persecution as Christians “who are tortured, raped, imprisoned, or killed for their faith.” It’s a worldwide phenomenon, but Shea points out a troubling acceleration in the cradle of Christianity’s birth: the Middle East and North Africa. As London Guardian columnist Rupert Shortt wrote in January, “The religious ecology of the Middle East looks more fragile than ever, as the Arab Spring gives way to Christian Winter.”
Tragically, Christians have been forced to abandon homelands they have occupied for thousands of years. Up to two-thirds of Christians have fled Iraq in the past ten years to escape massacres, church burnings and constant death threats. Many Christians fled to Syria, where they are experiencing persecution anew. In Iran, U.S. pastor Saeed Abedini has been sentenced to eight years in prison for preaching Christianity.
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