Christian persecution refers to persistently cruel treatment,
often due to religion or deeply held beliefs
Jesus told Christians to spread the word of Christianity,
and acknowledged that this may put them in danger.
And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.
There are still some circumstances in the 21st century, where Christians are persecuted because of their beliefs. One example is the bombing of Christian churches around the world.
Christian Freedom International and Open Doors are examples of organisations in the UK who help persecuted Christians.
Their work in helping these Christians has involved:
- training Christians and church leaders to support them through the trauma they may have suffered
- providing advice and support to Christians who have been victims of disaster
- speaking on behalf of Christians to help raise awareness of the situation they are in
'Christians in America and Europe are persecuted. This is not the wild claim of right-wing alarmists but the sober contention of the Bishop of Rome. Standing where St Peter was crucified, preaching on the feast of St Stephen in 2016, Pope Francis described how Christians in the West have come to face a form of “polite persecution” that “takes away from man and woman their freedom, as well as their right to conscientious objection”.
“Jesus has named the head of this ‘polite’ persecution: the prince of this world,” Francis said. “And when the powerful want to impose behaviours, laws against the dignity of the son of God, they persecute them and go against God the Creator. It is the great apostasy.”
One of the most curious aspects of polite persecution is the refusal of many Christians to acknowledge its reality. If any Christian in the West says that the Church there faces persecution, one of his co-religionists is sure to accuse him of overstating the case. Herein lies the great insidiousness of polite persecution. Rather than being conducted by sword-and-sandals tyrants employing brutal means, it is very often enforced by Christians themselves, in order to flatter and serve their secular betters. Time and again they rush to denounce other Christians as “hateful”, “insensitive” and “bigoted” – in a word, impolite.'
This dynamic was especially pronounced in the case of the Covington Catholic students. When the students were denounced as racist-misogynists because they had joined the March for Life and wore Trump hats, Bishop John Stowe of Lexington wrote an op-ed suggesting the students had chosen to “uncritically ally” with Trump. He apparently did not watch the full video, in which the Covington students can be seen mocking members of the Black Hebrew Israelites for their gay-baiting and racist remarks. The Covington boys are not exactly the alt-right avatars some fevered imaginations assume all Trump supporters must be.
Christians should think twice about engaging in this form of self-policing.
While acknowledging that refinement is preferable to rudeness, and eloquence preferable to crudity, they must stand with their co-religionists who, in sincerely trying to defend the faith, are attacked for incidental violations of political correctness. To do anything less is to become complicit in a form of persecution that is also a kind of class war.
What Christians should urge each other to advance in is the properly Christian virtues of faith, hope and charity.
These virtues will, when expressed in moments of perfect peace, also radiate respect, compassion and sensitivity.
When the world hates the Church – as, alas, it always has – faith, hope, and love will sometimes seem rude, insolent or cruel. No one who loves peace could celebrate this fact, but neither could any realist deny it.
Western Christians have little reason for self-pity in the face in polite persecution. We have known that the Church will always be persecuted – that this is almost a mark of the Church – and that the real peril is not any penalty a Christian might suffer, but the temptation to join the persecutors in hounding those Catholics who choose to suffer for Christ.
As Pope Francis reminds us, polite persecution is real.
But none of its threats remotely approach the torments suffered by our brothers dying as Christians have always died – at Rome, Tyburn and the Libyan seaside.'