Christianity: Growing, and under siege [Excerpts]
Around the world, and especially in Africa and Asia, Christian populations are suffering severe discrimination and brutal attacks. Thousands are being killed. Systematic campaigns are being waged against Christians simply because of their faith, and it is not too dramatic to suggest that these are forms of ethnic cleansing and genocide.
Christianity is no longer a predominantly Western religion. Since 1900, there has been a startling growth of Christianity in Latin America, Africa and Asia, to the point that now, 65 percent of the world's 2 billion Christians live on one of those three continents. Christians now constitute the largest single religious group in Africa. Close to 350 million Christians live in Asia. But this dramatic growth has also fanned the flames of religious persecution and hatred against them.
In northern Nigeria, deadly religious violence occurs with regularity, killing hundreds at a time. Christians in Ethiopia have seen the destruction of 57 churches; thousands of Christians have been displaced, and some have been killed. In Sudan, the government has waged a decades-old war against Christians in southern part of the country. In Egypt, radicals now use the façade of democratic reforms to ramp up their continuing war against Coptic Christians, while the army looks the other way.
Christians have lived in Iraq for 1,800 years, but recent violence threatens their very existence as a community. In Pakistan, religious violence and anti-blasphemy laws are used to suppress Christians, while prominent Christian politicians and their defenders are assassinated. In India, religious radicals attack Christian converts, while courts and political assemblies take away their rights. Religious violence against Christians occurs with depressing regularity in Indonesia, while the Chinese government cracks down on Christian churches, especially those that have chosen not to register with the communist government. In many countries around the world, anti-Christian activists have hijacked political processes to codify severe discrimination.
(Granquist, “Christianity: Growing, and under siege,” Minneapolis Star Tribune, May 22, 2011).