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Normalizing Religious Persecution

Golden Lampstand Church China
Two days ago, the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi extermination camp at Auschwitz, Poland garnered prominent press coverage, but today it is almost impossible to find any mention in the media of the Holocaust and that singular crime against the Jewish people.

However, in the weeks leading up to Tuesday’s somber remembrance ceremonies the media regularly carried articles recounting anti-Semitic attacks, and, right here in America, Rep. Rahida Tlaib – a prominent Muslim elected official – spread the blood libel that Jews were responsible for murdering Palestinian children and the establishment media refused to utter one word of condemnation.

To us this media silence suggests that the establishment media isn’t really interested in educating the public about the crimes of the Nazis to ensure that there will never be another Holocaust against the Jewish people.

If the media silence was limited to anti-Semitic attacks only, one might legitimately claim that the establishment media was itself guilty of anti-Semitism, but this silence on religious persecution seems to apply to attacks on all people of faith.

In Africa, especially in Nigeria, Chad and Sudan there is an ongoing religious war that has seen untold thousands, if not millions, of Christians killed or driven off their land by Muslim attackers.

Last July, the international human rights nongovernmental organization Jubilee Campaign sent a report to the International Criminal Court warning that the “standard of genocide has now been reached” in Nigeria. The Jubilee Campaign report highlighted 52 Muslim attacks on Christian farming communities.

The report states that Fulani extremist attacks are not only happening with greater regularity and severity but also appear to be premeditated, target civilians, and focused on Christian-populated villages as well as churches.

Many Christian communities across the Middle Belt of Nigeria, including entire tribes, have been displaced from their homes due to the attacks.

“Why are there 180,000 [internally displaced persons] in Benue state? Why are there nearly 1 million IDPs from the northeast of Nigeria?” human rights lawyer and Jubilee Campaign Director Ann Buwalda asked. “It isn’t only [Muslim terrorist organization] Boko Haram. It is also Fulani herdsmen and militants that are behind these attacks.”

And it is a fact that much of today’s religious persecution of Christians is perpetrated by Muslims in Africa and the Middle East.

However, Muslims and Christians alike are being persecuted by the totalitarian government of Communist China.

Communist China’s President Xi, in secret speeches dating back to 2014, called for extreme measures to address security concerns about the Muslim population in Xinjiang, including using “organs of dictatorship” and showing “absolutely no mercy.”

Leaked documents obtained by the New York Times show that not only has the Chinese government singled out Muslim Uyghurs through a high-tech crackdown on ethnic minorities, but they have also perpetuated a constant state of terror in the Xinjiang region with this mass surveillance and predictive policing.

The other aspect of this leak, the operating manual for the detention camps, outlines almost two dozen guidelines for running the detention camps, including specifics on how to handle various situations within these mass detention centers, where millions of Uyghur Muslims have been inhumanely incarcerated.

Numerous Muslim Uyghurs, including infants less than a year old, have died due to the hostile condition of the camps, reported Fatima Taj in an article for Harvard Political Review.

“What happens in Xinjiang and what happens to house churches is connected,” said Eva Pils, a professor of law at King’s College London, focusing on human rights. “Those kinds of new attitudes have translated into different types of measures against Christians, which amount to intensified persecution of religious groups.”

According to the UK’s Guardian, there are at least 60 million Christians in China, spanning rural and urban areas. Fenggang Yang, a professor of sociology and the Director of the Center on Religion and Chinese Society at Purdue University told TIME that there are about 116 million Protestant Christians in mainland China in 2020.

“It is almost certain that by 2030 there will be more Christians in China than any other country in the world,” Yang told TIME. Christians in China are predominantly Protestant, he added.

Compare that with an estimated 90 million members in the Communist Party, and government leaders believe they have cause for concern, Willy Lam, adjunct professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong’s Center for China Studies told TIME.

The result of this “concern” has been a spike in the persecution of Christians, which includes the bulldozing of churches and the imprisonment or “disappearance” of Christian pastors and church members.

The UK’s Guardian says the persecution of Christians in China is the worst it has been for more than a decade, with at least 50 million people expected to experience some form of repression this year as the government tightens its controls over religious worship, according to a global monitoring body.

The crackdown on religion in China is part of a pattern of increasing Christian persecution across Asia over the past five years, Open Doors said in its 2019 World Watch List, which ranks 50 countries. One in three Christians face high levels of persecution in Asia, with India entering the top 10 for the first time.

Open Doors estimates that 245 million Christians worldwide face high levels of persecution this year, up from 215 million last year.

We Americans must be the leaders in committing the world to prevent the ever-increasing violence against people of faith. Those who have been persecuted deserve to be honored not only by remembrance on anniversary days, but also by action.

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