17 April 2019, The Tablet

Where Christianity fights for its life


Where Christianity fights for its life

A badly damaged church in the Monastery of Mar Sarkis in the ancient Christian town of Maaloula, Syria, in 2014
Photo: CNS/Reuters, Khaled al-Hariri

 

As Christians prepare for Easter, more and more are living in fear of being killed or exiled because of their faith. Yet the world ignores one of the great moral outrages of our time

Did you know that Christians are by some distance the most oppressed faith group on Earth? They are the most widely targeted body of believers in 144 countries – up from 128 in 2015, according to respected bodies including the Pew Research Center.

That this figure comes as a surprise to many is in itself revealing. It tells us much about a hierarchy of victimhood belatedly acknowledged by the Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, a few months ago. Writing in The Daily Telegraph on Boxing Day, he warned that Christianity is on the verge of extinction in its birthplace, and that Britain’s current efforts are not matching up to the scale of the problem. Mr Hunt announced the setting up of an independent commission led by the Anglican Bishop of Truro, Philip Mounstephen. Its findings are due to be published in the summer.

Consider what has happened to Christians in a range of countries over the past few months. A policeman was killed trying to defuse a bomb outside a Coptic church in Egypt. Before that, seven Copts were murdered by religious extremists during a pilgrimage. At least 20 were murdered by a bomb attack on the cathedral in the southern island of Jolo in the Philippines. A mass grave was discovered in Libya containing the remains of 34 Ethiopian Christians killed by jihadists affiliated with Islamic State.

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