The Global War on Christians: Dispatches from the front lines of Anti-Christian Persecution
John L. Allen, Jr
Publication Date: 2013.
Crown Publishing Group (Random House), New York,
Format: Epub version, 278 pages.
It appears that our nation is beginning a period of religious persecution, as our government begins taking on itself to direct what the Church can and cannot do, and some groups blame Christians for all our social problems. It becomes important to understand that persecution occurs throughout the world and often in extreme forms.
Allen reports some of the statistics of the present persecutions. However, these seem to very by orders of magnitude. The numbers of those persecuted are understandably not readily reported by local sources. He uses a poor/broad definition of “Christian” (not that I have a better one) using those who are self-identified as Christians. You may question whether, on a per capita basis, Jews, or some loosely Christian sects, suffer more persecution, but the numbers involved make Christians the most persecuted.
While the statistics may be questioned, the stories cannot. Allen presents specific stories from around the world of murders, torture, beatings, and harassment, under a wide range of conditions. Some of the stories are very recent, occurring in 2012. The sources of persecution are not only Muslim extremism, but include criminal activity fighting exposure, other religious, and even Christian, groups trying to protect monopolies, and civil wars and conflicts, where clergy, and other Christian leaders, present authority figures without allegiance to either side. Allen repeatedly points out the persecution of Christians is not a liberal or conservative issue, but includes people on both side, and some who straddle the political divides.
I don’t expect these persecutions to ever end before Christ’s return. The Bible advises prayer, cultivating patience, endurance and trust in God and His promises, through listening to, reading and studying God’s Word,. However, as Christians we also want to show God’s love and have sympathy and compassion on those suffering and do something to help. My reading of Allen’s work is that the second most important thing we can do, after prayer, is let those people who are suffering know we are aware of their plight. We can talk about the existing persecution in international forums. We can call on our government to make fighting religious persecution a foreign policy priority. Allen’s book goes a long way to supporting this effort. Other things include encouraging Christians world wide. In some places it is possible to offer economic assistance. I’d like to see it be easier for persecuted Christians to emigrate, and immigrate to this country, though I fear this will harm the places they leave in the long term.
I rate this book highly mostly because I view it as important. I also think it is very readable and accessible.
© David B. Snyder, 2014