Originally published in Mission Network News
Round-the-clock media coverage of the mass shootings at two mosques in New Zealand that killed 50 people on March 15 have raised questions about the lack of coverage of repeated deadly attacks on churches and massive persecution of Christians.
“You do get the sense that maybe killing Christians isn’t such a big deal. That might seem like an overstatement, but it’s hard to imagine why people are not covering this persecution of Christians to the scale of which it is happening and we need to call the media to account and ask if they are prejudicially overlooking these attacks on Christians,” says David Curry of Open Doors USA.
The reality, he says, is that we are living in a time when persecution against Christian believers is the highest in modern history. According to Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List — an in-depth investigative report focusing on global Christian persecution—11 Christians die for their faith every day.
Curry explains, “When we’re talking about 11 Christians a day, we’re really talking about only those we know, for a fact, have passed away. We don’t know what’s happened in North Korea. We don’t know what’s happened in some of these regimes where Christians just disappear.”
Every month 255 Christians are killed, 104 are abducted, 180 Christian women are raped, sexually harassed or forced into marriage, 66 churches are attacked and 160 Christians are detained without trial and imprisoned.
Media reports suggested attacks on houses of worship are rare, but Curry takes issue with that, in light of the data gathered by Open Doors Research. “When the media talks about those kinds of events being rare, they’re only rare at a mosque. Christian churches are attacked nearly every day, multiple times a day, in some cases, around the world, by extremists, by governments that are shutting them down.”
Christians are a prime target for extremists, which include Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and radical secularists. Why? Curry offered this thought: “You certainly have dictatorships, and government systems, old-school Communist systems for example, that don’t want a strong, powerful faith rising up that would challenge their power, their premiership.”
Christians are also often the religious minority, considered second class citizens in their own countries, discriminated against, and offered little protection or recourse in the event of an attack. That these attacks happen every day around the world perhaps makes them commonplace or earns them ‘compassion fatigue’.
Yet, trends show that countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East are intensifying persecution against Christians, and perhaps the most vulnerable are Christian women, who often face double persecution for faith and gender.
Aside from calling the secular media to account, he urges Christians to stay informed by the media who are covering these stories…and then share them. “It’s happening all the time. We need to be prayerful, thoughtful about speaking up for them, about making sure that our voice doesn’t get drowned out in the cacophony of discussion about other issues. We need to stand up for those people that are Christians who are dying for their faith in Jesus Christ.”
Being part of the solution means being an advocate. When you invest, you change. “We are called, as followers of Jesus in the Scripture, to pray for our brothers and sisters, as if it were our own family. That’s really what this is about. I think it’s going to build our faith as well—when we see the faith walk of these people who, at great cost, are sharing their faith—that’s an important takeaway.”