Sri Lanka attacks expose global plight of Christians

A blood-stained statue of Christ in St Sebastian Church in Negombo, Sri Lanka (CNS/Reuters)

The attacks in Sri Lanka were shocking but also horribly familiar, for we are now living through an unprecedented era of Christian persecution, writes Catherine Pepinster. Source: The Age.

Most people associate persecution of Christians with the Roman empire and martyrs facing the lions. Others may recall the Soviet regime and the repression of believers during the time of Stalin. But this century is fast becoming a rival to both of these eras.

According to the respected Pew Research Centre, they are the most targeted body of believers in 144 countries, up from 128 in 2015. And there is barely a country from Saharan Africa to Pakistan where Christians worship freely without intimidation.

The persecution takes various forms. The bloodshed of Sri Lanka was of a particular kind; it was well-organised, with four churches bombed, as well as Western-style hotels, and well-planned. A religious holiday was the date underlined in the bombers’ calendar.

Elsewhere, in countries such as Bosnia and Herzegovina, Christians are tolerated but suffer employment discrimination, and in many countries there is state oppression.

The future of Christianity is particularly grim in North Africa and the Middle East, the very cradle of Christianity.

In Egypt the Copts, who belong to one of the most ancient Christian traditions, have been targeted repeatedly, after centuries of living peacefully with their Muslim neighbours.

In Libya in January, a mass grave was found containing 34 Ethiopian Christians killed by Islamic State fighters.

The destruction of Christianity in Iraq, after Islamist groups emerged in the wake of the war in 2003, has been so overwhelming that there are barely any Christians left in cities such as Mosul.

But it is further east, in Asia, where persecution is at its worst, according to a report from the Open Doors organisation earlier this year.

As in the Middle East, the assailants are often members of other religions, such as Hindus in India and Muslims in Pakistan. Its forms include terrorist atrocities but also harassment, such as in Pakistan where Asia Bibi spent eight years on death row for blasphemy.

FULL STORY

Sri Lanka attacks expose global plight of Christians (The Age

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Persecution of Christians being taken to extremes (The Australian

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