Interesting times these are.
While the Pope of my church seems to spare no occasion to castigate Western societies for allegedly not doing enough to welcome and accommodate Islamic refugees from the Middle East, he rarely says anything about the epidemic of anti-Christian persecution around the world.
In stark contrast, while addressing the topic of Middle Easterners who are seeking refuge in the United States, President Trump--who, readers may recall, Pope Francis once suggested wasn't really a Christian because of his expressed desire to build a wall along America's southern border--explicitly resolved to provide relief for Christians.
Trump's critics immediately pounced on him for religious discrimination.
Some context on this matter readily reveals that the Pope's view is as morally confused as the President's is sensible.
Firstly, contrary to what the Christophobes would have us believe, Christianity is the most persecuted religion in the world today. In 2016, approximately 900,000 Christians suffered persecution.
Secondly, many (though not all) of these victimized Christians to whom the President was referring, those seeking refuge from the oppression that they've encountered in places like Syria, say, are prey to Islamic predators.
Of course it's true that there are decent Muslims (and others) who are also victimized by their co-religionists. Equally true, however, is that it is predominately Muslims who are menacing the vulnerable.
And they are menacing Christians because the latter reject the religion of Muhammad.
Yet it would be a mistake to think that it is only Muslims who persecute Christians.
Open Doors (OD) is among the organizations that exists for the sake of drawing people's attention to the phenomenon of anti-Christian persecution around the planet. It defines "persecution" thus:
"Christian persecution is any hostility experienced from the world as a result of one's identification as a Christian. From verbal harassment to hostile feelings, attitudes and actions, Christians in areas of with severe religious restrictions pay a heavy price for their faith. Beatings, physical torture, confinement, isolation, rape, severe punishment, imprisonment, slavery, discrimination in education and employment, and even death are just a few examples of the persecution they experience on a daily basis."
Christians in at least 60 countries suffer persecution because of their faith. On a monthly basis, 322 Christians are murdered. When they aren't losing their lives, 772 acts of violence--from rapes to beatings; from abductions to arrests and forced marriages--are visited upon them. And each month, 214 churches and Christian properties are destroyed.
Open Doors distinguishes three gradations of persecution: "extreme persecution," "very high persecution," and "high persecution." Of the 50 most oppressive countries for Christians, about four out of five them, or 80%, are Islamic. However, the worse of the worst persecutors is North Korea.
North Korea's government is that of a communist dictatorship. Of its 25,405,000 residents, some 300,000 are Christian. The reasons cited by OD for the government's ruthless persecution of Christians are two: "communist oppression" and "dictatorial paranoia."
North Korea is a "totalitarian communist state" where "Christians are forced to hide their faith completely from government authorities, neighbors, and, often, even their own spouses and children." Because of the government's "ever-present surveillance, many pray with their eyes open, and gathering for praise or fellowship is practically impossible."
All North Koreans must worship the ruling family, "and those who don't comply (including Christians) are arrested, imprisoned, tortured or killed." Moreover, whole "Christian families are" routinely "imprisoned in hard labor camps, where unknown numbers die each year from torture, beatings, overexertion and starvation."
As for those who attempt to flee to South Korea via China, they "risk execution or life imprisonment [.]"
In North Korea, the act of possessing a Bible is a capital crime. Christians must meet secretly in the woods if they wish to worship.
In Islamic Nigeria, particularly the Borno State in the northeaster section of the country, there are 27 camps of roughly 5,000 "internally displaced peoples." The mostly Christian residents of these camps are infected with HIV/AIDS courtesy of the notorious Islamic terrorist organization Boko Haram, for most of the patients were once held captive by the latter.
The Boko Haram insurgency that transpired in Nigeria also decimated the Christian communities that had at one time existed there. Those Christians who returned to their homes are now in danger of starving, for there is no work, and those who did have work before they fled because of the insurgency have been fired from their jobs. Thus, they are under immense pressure from Muslims to convert to Islam in exchange for financial support.
And what about Iraq, a place that Christians had been calling home for as long as there have been Christians? Barack Obama's announcement to the world that he would be withdrawing troops from Iraq was the beginning of the end for the country's Christians, for the vacuum that he created in effect created the ruthless Islamic State (ISIS).
Iraq is the seventh most oppressive place on the planet for Christians. As OD states, although the Christian community in Iraq is ancient, it is now "on the verge of extinction." The Christian-aid organization elaborates:
"The overall persecution situation in Iraq is characterized by impunity, the threat of attacks and second class treatment by the authorities. Historical Christian communities and Protestant Christian communities are seriously affected by persecution, especially from Islamic movements, authorities and non-Christian leaders. Communities of converts to Christianity from Islam suffer severely from persecution, especially at the hands of family, but also from the above mentioned persecutors if their faith is known."
For all of the left's crocodile tears over "Islamophobia," Muslims are by far the least persecuted religious group in the world, and certainly throughout the Western world where they live far freer and better than they ever could have imagined doing in their homelands.
It is Christians who are under attack for their faith.