Mollie Hemingway asks, “Can we finally start talking about the global persecution of Christians?” Excerpt:
In recent weeks, we have Muslims killing Christians in Kenya, Egypt, Pakistan and Syria. Again.
It’s time to ask an important question that many of us have successfully avoided for far too long:
Can we finally start talking about the global persecution of Christians and other non-Muslims?
As Paul Marshall, Lela Gilbert and Nina Shea write in Persecuted: The Global Assault on Christians, “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 Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community, 75 percent of acts of religious intolerance are directed against Christians.”
How well does the media tell that story? And how did they cover this weekend’s events? As Anglicans and other Christians worldwide grieved the brutal attack in Pakistan, the media… did not. The worst attack on Pakistani Christians in history didn’t make the front page of the New York Times. The Washington Post buried the story on page A7 of Monday’s paper. On the front page of the BBC web site, a small headline “Pakistan church blast kills dozens” was below stories on Angela Merkel and the Emmys. By the next day, the story was nowhere to be found.
British blogger Archbishop Cranmer noted, “Without media coverage we in the West cannot smell the fear of those Christians who are persecuted by Muslims all over the world.”
Many journalists act as if they can’t report that acts of violence appear to have some kind of Muslim faith behind them because it might inflame anti-Muslim feelings. This reportorial approach is paired with an odd desire to hype any act of “violence” by Christians. This is why the American media will highlight a tiny Florida church burning some Quran while not mentioning that, say, the entire Kingdom of Saudia Arabia confiscates all Bibles at customs and destroys them.
When and where violence occurs involving Muslims and Christians, as it did in Pakistan, Kenya, Syria and Egypt, it is framed as a political conflict, with no examination of the religious details. Not only is this grievously unfair to the Christians who continue to be slaughtered while the rest of the world is busy watching Dancing With The Stars, it’s also a disservice to Islam, whose followers are not monolithic in their persecution of non-Muslims. Many Muslims themselves are persecuted in the name of Muslim violence. To take the most recent example, at least 96 people in Iraq were killed this past weekend when a string of bombs detonated in short order, targeting Shiite funeral-goers. Muslims who defend Christians are a bold lot. Salman Taseer, the Punjab governor, was a vocal opponent of anti-blasphemy laws that target Christians and other religious minorities. For this, he was assassinated in 2011 by his security guard.
It’s not journalists’ job to protect the public from these facts. And if it were, it would be impossible. While the media may think they’ve done a good job of obscuring part of this reality, most people have figured out that a lot of Muslims do support violence as a part of the way of Islam. And they’ve figured out as well that a lot of Muslims don’t. Both groups can appeal to long traditions within Islam for their defense.
It is the job of journalists to convey information about local and world events in all their complexity and nuance.
Read the whole thing. She has advice for politicians and churchgoers too. It’s long and detailed, and terrific. And while you’re at it, think of the nuns and the orphans trapped in the convent in Maaloula, Syria. Agence France-Presse reports now:
Nearly 40 nuns and orphans are trapped inside a convent in the Syrian Christian town of Maalula, where regime troops are battling rebel forces, the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate said Tuesday.
The famed town, where residents still speak Aramaic, the language Jesus Christ is thought to have spoken, has been the scene of clashes since earlier this month.
“The Mar Takla convent is living through painful days because it is in the middle of the zone where fire is being exchanged, which makes getting supplies difficult and dangerous,” the Damascus-based Patriarchate said in a statement.
“The generator has gone out because of the fighting, halting the supply of water to the convent and threatening the lives of those inside,” the statement added.
It issued an “urgent appeal” to humanitarian groups to “ensure the necessary supplies to residents of the convent, nuns and orphans who number close 40 people.”