Why is the world silent while Christians are being slaughtered in the Middle East and Africa? In Europe and in the United States, we have witnessed demonstrations over the tragic deaths of Palestinians who have been used as human shields by Hamas, the terrorist organization that controls Gaza. The United Nations has held inquiries and focuses its anger on Israel for defending itself against that same terrorist organization. But the barbarous slaughter of thousands upon thousands of Christians is met with relative indifference.
The Middle East and parts of central Africa are losing entire Christian communities that have lived in peace for centuries. The terrorist group Boko Haram has kidnapped and killed hundreds of Christians this year — ravaging the predominantly Christian town of Gwoza, in Borno State in northeastern Nigeria, two weeks ago. Half a million Christian Arabs have been driven out of Syria during the three-plus years of civil war there. Christians have been persecuted and killed in countries from Lebanon to Sudan.
Historians may look back at this period and wonder if people had lost their bearings. Few reporters have traveled to Iraq to bear witness to the Nazi-like wave of terror that is rolling across that country. The United Nations has been mostly mum. World leaders seem to be consumed with other matters in this strange summer of 2014. There are no flotillas traveling to Syria or Iraq. And the beautiful celebrities and aging rock stars — why doesn’t the slaughter of Christians seem to activate their social antennas?
That’s easy to explain: because to many American conservatives, even conservative Christians, the Arab Christians of the Middle East are invisible. As far as they know, all Arabs are Muslims. Foreigners. Unlike us. End of story.
And to many American (and European) liberals, all Christians are basically Pat Robertson and Fred Phelps. Christians are the yucky people they dislike at home, the ones who, as they see it, hate sex, women, gays, and Muslims. All Christians around the world are the same, and they are always and everywhere the persecutors, never the persecuted. The persecution of Christians does not suit the Narrative.
I’m overstating it, but not by much.
British academic Paul Vallely says there’s blame all around — and says that Christian culture warriors bear some responsibility too, for putting priority on the wrong things. Excerpt:
In part, it is because our intelligentsia are locked into old ways of thinking about Christianity as the dominant force in Western historic hegemony. The church has not helped in this, with its fixation on pious religiosity and on cultural issues that it falsely regards as totemic – issues such as gay marriage and women bishops.
A bogus dichotomy between religion and equality has been set up, resulting in a succession of comparatively trivial new stories about receptionists being banned from wearing religious jewellery or nurses being suspended for offering to pray for patients’ recovery. Adopting the rhetoric of persecution on such matters obscures the very real persecution of Christians being killed or driven from their homes elsewhere in the globe.
Most of the world’s Christians are not engaged in stand-offs with intolerant secularists over such small matters. In the West, Christianity may have increasingly become embraced by the middle class and abandoned by the working class. But elsewhere the vast majority of Christians are poor, many of them struggling against antagonistic majority cultures, and have different priorities in life.
The paradox this produces is that, as [US journalist John L.] Allen points out, the world’s Christians fall through the cracks of the left-right divide – they are too religious for liberals and too foreign for conservatives.
Read all of Ronald S. Lauder’s NYT column. If you’re a Christian, send it to your pastor, and to your friends at church. If y’all aren’t talking about this, praying about it, and taking action on it … well, why not? Thank you, Ronald Lauder, for your dedication to speaking out. I am reminded of what Lord Sacks, the former chief rabbi of the UK, said last year about the persecution of Christians in the Middle East: “I think sometimes Jews feel very puzzled that Christians do not protest this more vociferously.”