Religious Persecution of Christians on the Rise

In spite of America's War on Terrorism, the world is not a safer place. In fact, more Christians have died for their faith in the last hundred years than in all the years since the death and resurrection of Christ. As Islam continues to fan out throughout the world, it exports its religious ideals which increasingly encounter a mind-set opposed to western values.

With few exceptions, the two most powerful forces persecuting Christians throughout the world today are Islam and communism. In Extreme Devotion (W-Publishing), Tom White and Todd Nettleton provide a daily reminder of real Christians suffering for their faith around the world. White, the director of Voice of the Martyrs, knows about persecution firsthand. He spent months in a Cuban prison for sharing his faith. "In nations where a frontal attack on Christians is not possible, the diversionary phrase, 'We all worship the same God,' is used." White adamantly disagrees with this kind of logic and encourages Christians in America to "wake up." Although Americans are taught to be open-minded and tolerant of all faiths, this is clearly not the position taken by Islam. "There are Christians around the world today who are living under terror and are not intimidated into being 'tolerant' and uncompromising in their faith," says White.

A quick survey of Christian persecution around the world points to Islamic countries like Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Egypt, Iran, Libya, Nigeria, Algeria, Malaysia, Pakistan, and countries of the former Soviet Central Asia. These restricted nations harass, imprison and kill Christians for their faith. In many Islamic countries conversion to Christianity is a crime punishable by death. According to Dr. Stan Fleming, an expert on world religions and cults, it is not correct to accept the idea that a handful of Muslims has hijacked Islam for their own purposes. To the contrary, says Fleming, "Muslims cannot deny the overt militant application of the jihad. Muhammad led the first one."

In his book, Islam and New Global Realities (Selah), Fleming argues, "All religions have extremes, but the true warring spirit of the Koran is not held in check by Islamic extremists and is rarely condemned by mainstream Islam." Indeed, in recent months Americans have been shocked to watch Muslims celebrate the events of 9/11 or reward suicide bombers whose ultimate sacrifice "for Allah" claims the lives of civilians. Both Tom White and Fleming agree that persecution of Christians will not end soon, no matter where the persecution comes from. Still, they point to the fundamental message of Christianity, love for one's enemies, as a distinctive quality. "Christ did not ask us to love our enemies," says White, "He commanded us to do so."

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