Christians are being persecuted all over the world. Churches are being burned and destroyed, girls are being raped and ancient Christian communities reaching back 2,000 years are being obliterated. And the world yawns. Most shockingly, many Christians in the West, worse than yawning, look away and in some cases embrace the perpetrators and blame our allies.
This begs the obvious question: Why do so many Christians in America and Europe seem to not care what is happening around the world to their fellow disciples of Jesus? Why are we looking the other way while the brutal murder, persecution, rape and ethnic and religious cleansing is happening right before us?
The answers are complicated and unfortunately, don’t offer much hope for the future. First some history:
The fact is, Christians have never been united. Even before 1054 and the Great Schism between Rome and Constantinople, Christians were at odds with each other. The Schism just made it official. The Protestant Reformation of the early 16th century further divided “Christendom” into a multitude of fractures, ending any hope of a united Christian Church.
While the Eastern Roman Empire was, for centuries, holding off the oncoming Turkish Muslim hordes, the Western Church did worse than yawn; in 1204 they irrevocably weakened the Byzantine Empire when they sacked Constantinople on their way to the Holy Land. Much of the beauty of Venice was the booty stolen from their fellow Christians of the East. When Constantinople finally fell in 1453, aid did not come from Christian Europe in spite of frantic pleas for assistance.
There have been great moments in the history of the West, when Christians fought together against a common foe. Most notably when the Pole Jan Sobieski lead a heroic charge of Catholics and Protestants at Vienna in 1683 and likely saved Europe from being overrun by the Turks and becoming Muslim. But most of the history of the West has seen Christians at each other’s throats, one long trail of bloody wars after another with World War I being perhaps the last light in the Christian West going out. Perhaps Sobieski only bought us a few hundred years before the Muslim onslaught.
But if history is against us, so are those divisions within Christianity. Unfortunately, for most Christians, a Christian is not a Christian. To get an American Roman Catholic to worry about an Assyrian Iraqi Christian or to get a Presbyterian to concern themselves with a Melkite Catholic in Syria is a near impossible task. You will have better luck raising their awareness of Buddhist monks in Tibet. When you walk in a Baptist Church and find tracts that call Rome and the Catholic Church the “whore of Babylon” and the Pope the “anti-Christ” is it really surprising that they have such little concern for the raping of Coptic Christians in Egypt? There is a now infamous photo of an Egyptian Copt with his hand on a blood-stained painting of Jesus on the walls of a destroyed church in Alexandria. A comment made to me about the image from a fundamentalist Protestant was “Images of Jesus are a false idol and therefore heresy.” And we wonder why no one cares?
And finally, the scourge of political correctness and the influence the left has had on our culture is perhaps the greatest reason why we lack the will to fight. Or even to care. We see it in Hollywood, the media, in our politics and, of course, in our churches.
Even I, as a non-Catholic, yearn for some kind of leadership from the Vatican. Pope John Paul will live forever in the hearts of those who love freedom for his courageous stance against Communism. There was hope for Pope Benedict early on, but those hopes were quickly squashed. When the Pope would make a statement about the persecution of Christians in the Middle East, he would invariably mention, the “occupation”, “two state solution” or some other canard to blame Israel for what the Muslims are doing to Christians. To do so is disgusting and shameful and a further blight on the Church. May this new Pope find the courage that so many others have lacked.
When we look to other Christian churches, the news only gets worse. American and European main-stream protestant churches are pathetic examples of a post Christian world. We see a full embracing of the Palestinian cause and an apology to their terror. They have so fallen into the Leftist mantra that they can’t see the evil before their eyes. I liken it to western feminists saying nothing about the plight of women under Islam; the genital mutilations, beatings, rapes and honor killings. They don’t care about women; their cause has nothing to do with “women’s rights.” They are pushing a political agenda. It goes the same with much of the Western Christian churches. We can raise all the awareness that we want, but they just don’t care.
There is some hope, though it is fleeting. Among the evangelicals, Catholics, Eastern Orthodox and scattered other remnants, there are those that still do care. And they must be awakened to move against this great evil and injustice to their fellow followers of Christ. In addition, we must reach out to our allies outside of Christianity. Jews, Hindus, Buddhist and so many others are very much victims today of Islamic terror and persecution. An alliance must be formed.
For Christians, any human suffering is a cry for help, whether they be Christians or otherwise. But it is especially critical that we heed those who are being martyred for their belief in Christ. Differences of history, doctrine, ethnicity and nation must be set aside. We, in the West, are in the greatest position to help, in whatever ways that may be determined. And before we look the other way, we need to think about when the persecution comes home, and that time will arrive if we are to do nothing now. Who will be left to save us?
Michael Finch is the Chief Operating Officer at the David Horowitz Freedom Center