According to the British magazine The Spectator, "More than 300 million Christians are either threatened with violence or legally discriminated against because of their faith" (March 26). Across the world of Islam, Christians are suffering persecution. Some are put behind bars on false charges and even tortured in some cases. In most Muslim countries it is illegal to convert to Christianity or to try to influence others to do so.
Drew Christiansen, adviser to the U.S. Conference of Bishops, recently completed an official study which said that "all over the Middle East, Christians are under pressure. 'The Cradle of Christianity' is under enormous pressure from demographic decline, the growth of Islamic militancy, official and unofficial discrimination, the Iraq war, the Palestinian Intifada, failed peace policies and political manipulation."
Last year the Chinese closed some 100 house churches. The American Spectator magazine reported that "China is in the middle of a concerted central government crackdown on its unregistered (hence, in effect, underground) Chinese and Protestant churches. It is the most serious crackdown in several years" (November 2004).
Even as American soldiers, some of whom are members of church congregations back home or have Christian backgrounds, help keep order in Iraq, the country "ethnically cleanses itself of its Christian community" (Spectator feature article). In North Korea there are reports of Christians being used as guinea pigs in chemical warfare experiments. And in India, "Hindu attacks on Christians are increasing" (The Catholic Times, March 20).
These persecutions involve, variously, violations of the rights of citizenship, violence to persons and barring of access to jobs and houses. The Bible certainly indicates that these trends are a harbinger of things to come. And never assume that persecution of Christians cannot happen in our Western democracies. For further understanding, please request or download our free booklet The Book of Revelation Unveiled. (Sources: The Spectator, The Catholic Times [both London], The American Spectator.)