Two Books, Many Stories, and Troublesome Questions

Due to a confluence of circumstances and an alarmingly busy year and a half of work, two books that I authored/co-authored have been launched in the course of the last three months. In late December, my own book Saturday People, Sunday People: Israel through the Eyes of a Christian Sojourner was released by Encounter Books. And last week, Persecuted: The Global Assault on Christians, which I co-authored with Paul Marshall and Nina Shea (published by Thomas Nelson), was launched. 

Saturday People, Sunday People is part memoir and part history — it relates to numerous stories I have come across while living in Jerusalem. One that continues to unfold is that of 850,000 Jews who fled or were expelled from eleven Muslim countries between 1948 and 1970. Very few Jews remain in those countries today; they have resettled in Israel and elsewhere.  This largely unreported story has a sequel now, as Christians in most of those countries — along with believers in many other Muslim lands —  are facing ferocious persecution all-too-similar to what the Jews experienced half a century ago. This reflects the jihadi slogan, “First the Saturday People, then the Sunday People.” 

Which brings me to the second book, Persecuted. In the introduction, we write, “Our book focuses on an underreported fact: 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 Bishop’s Conferences of the European Community, 75 percent of acts of religious intolerance are directed against Christians.”

Perhaps the key word here is “underreported.” Why is the horrific expulsion of 3/4 of a million displaced Jews so little known? And why is it that, when it comes to Christian persecution, so little interest is expressed within the western Christian community on behalf of millions of co-believers across the world who face violence, imprisonment, rape, torture and death explicitly and entirely for their faith?  

Ricochet seems like an ideal place to discuss these troublesome questions. 

  1. Pseudodionysius

    And why is it that, when it comes to Christian persecution, so little interest is expressed within the western Christian community on behalf of millions of co-believers across the world who face violence, imprisonment, rape, torture and death explicitly and entirely for their faith?  

    Because in the West, the Magisterium of the New York Times has declared that the burning issues of the day are:

    (1) Why can’t you call off your war on women and ordain them, their same sex partners, their adopted children (however conceived) and give them those communion wafers that we don’t think really mean what you Catholics do but nevermind all that they should have them anyway or else you’re mysogynist?

    (2) Free contraception for all mammals on planet earth

    (3) Global warming

    (4) Condoms for the developing world will bring world peace and end all forms of religious persecution and eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeevil.

    (5) Being mean to Islam is raaaaaaaaaaacist.

    (5) Free contraception for all mammals on planet earth

    (6) Did I mention free contraception?

    Thus concludeth today’s soap box sermon in speaker’s corner.

  2. katievs

    What is the real clash in the cosmos?  It is between good and evil—between love and will-to-power.

    The secular Left and radical Islam can make common cause against Jews and Christians because Jews and Christians propose, as over and against their will-to-power: reverence, reason, mutual respect.

    Also, we make truth claims.  

    This is intolerable.

  3. Fake John Galt

    For some reason western democracies dislike dealing with religious issues. If people are being persecuted for economic, race, gender, sexual orientation, national or idealistic characteristics they are all over it but mention religion and they go blind.

  4. katievs
    Fake John Galt: For some reason western democracies dislike dealing with religious issues. If people are being persecuted for economic, race, gender, sexual orientation, national or idealistic characteristics they are all over it but mention religion and they go blind. · 0 minutes ago

    I don’t know.  Seems to me they’re willing to defend Muslims against persecution.  It’s just Christians and Jews they’re loath to defend. 

  5. Foxfier
    Fake John Galt: For some reason western democracies dislike dealing with religious issues. If people are being persecuted for economic, race, gender, sexual orientation, national or idealistic characteristics they are all over it but mention religion and they go blind. · 36 minutes ago

    Western democracies are Christian in background, and seem to have joined in the delusion that such a thing means “I can’t defend people who are like me– only the ones that want to flipping kill me.”  Act or be presumed to act fairly civilized?  Clearly not a real victim.  Drives me nuts, and has since it was applied to bullied kids.

  6. Lela Gilbert, Guest Contributor
    C

    Thanks – I definitely think all these reasons apply to the West’s perceptions about Christian persecution. Meanwhile,  the global abuse is only getting worse. This morning Kirsten Powers wrote in USA Today,

    “‘The future of Christians in the Middle East is very bleak,’ Neil Hicks of Human Rights First told me. ‘What has happened in Iraq and Syria is de facto ethnic cleansing of Christians.’ In other words: Christians can leave or be killed.

    “The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, an expert on the region, told me he is shocked that American Christians aren’t regularly protesting outside of embassies drawing attention to this issue. Persecution of Christians in the Middle East is, he says, ‘one of the most undercovered stories in international news.’”

    Another question nags at me: Are there ways to motivate Christians in the West to, as Goldberg suggests, protest “outside of embassies drawing attention to this issue?” or to take other steps?  

  7. katievs
    “The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, an expert on the region, told me he is shocked that American Christians aren’t regularly protesting outside of embassies drawing attention to this issue. Persecution of Christians in the Middle East is, he says, ‘one of the most undercovered stories in international news.’”

    Why isn’t Jeffrey Goldberg out there, then?

    I suspect Christians feel too much the futility of protests that don’t get media attention, because the media is basically anti-Christian.  

    Also, this terrible thing is only one among countless terrible things happening all over the world: forced abortions and genetic engineering in China; euthanasia vans in Holland; same sex marriage being pushed in our country…

    And then there is the difficulty of raising one’s own family in a hostile culture.  And the challenge of remaining faithful oneself…

    We are living in terrible times.

  8. Lela Gilbert, Guest Contributor
    C

    Fake John Galt, I think you’re right about Westerners having a blind spot about religion, and that’s particularly true when it comes to media. Secular people (a category which applies to an inordinate number of our reporters, editors, and commentators) simply don’t understand that religion continues to shape the thinking and behavior – for good or ill – of massive portions of today’s world. And they certainly don’t see faith as something worth suffering or dying for.  And yes, particularly not Judaism or Christianity. 

  9. Foxfier
    katievs

    “The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, an expert on the region, told me he is shocked that American Christians aren’t regularly protesting outside of embassies drawing attention to this issue. Persecution of Christians in the Middle East is, he says, ‘one of the most undercovered stories in international news.’”

    Why isn’t Jeffrey Goldberg out there, then?

    I suspect Christians feel too much the futility of protests that don’t get media attention, because the media is basically anti-Christian. 

    If the protests would get attention, then the stuff that inspires them would have already been reported on.  

    The information is out there– heck, I’m dang near historically illiterate, and I knew about the Jews being expelled from Arab countries.  And forced abortions, etc, etc….

    Most folks just don’t do the “raise awareness” stuff; generally, it’s shallow.  Want to make a difference, talk to people directly, and have good information to back it up.  Write about it.

    The folks who refuse to listen will, of course, not listen– but some other folks will.

  10. Crow
    Lela Gilbert, Guest Contributor:  And why is it that, when it comes to Christian persecution, so little interest is expressed within the western Christian community on behalf of millions of co-believers across the world who face violence, imprisonment, rape, torture and death explicitly and entirely for their faith? 

    Well, the reasons that so little interest has been expressed have been adequately, if polemically, summed up more than sufficiently by Pseudo above. Right on all counts!

    But, what if you were to ask: why it is the case that Christians are persecuted, rather than why it is that this persecution is under- reported? In that case, I suppose I could answer in two ways.

    The first way would be to cite the Gospel, and to say that Christ Himself informs us that we will be persecuted because of Him and His message (Matt. 5:11).

    The second is to note that in some way Christianity asks us to draw a distinction between the lessons of our fathers and the lessons of our Father, and this distinction, understood (shall we say) in its fullness, will always result in a mind not entirely at peace with the reigning orthodoxy.

  11. Here I Stand!

    As with nearly all “orthodox” reporting the “action in conflict” sells…

    Doing to somebody is more engaging than doing for somebody.

    Christianity is a faith that leads the believer to do for his neighbor in the love.  This is the fruit of the hope in the promises of merciful God.

    Islam’s headline perception is doing something to their neigbor in obediance to a god who’s mercy is not promised.

    Here I Stand… for my neighbor.