Last week on Twitter, I shared a Crux article relating a Nigerian Christian woman’s torturous suffering at the hands of Boko Haram while a captive for two years. The facts of Rebecca Bitrus’s story are uncomfortable. I encourage you to read every word.
For those of you who do read Rebecca’s story, you might feel grief. Perhaps others will stop what they’re doing and pray for Rebecca and the Persecuted Church. But for some frustrating reason, others will take the opportunity to point out that American Christians’ “persecution complex” is a disgrace. But in an attempt to backhand American Christianity, this response only serves to neglect the Persecuted Church’s suffering all the more.
This happened within minutes after I re-tweeted the Crux article, adding my comment “Christian Persecution is real.” An individual responded, “Sure. Just not in the way that most American Christians constantly carry on about.” Now, I realize this is Twitter, and we will go crazy by taking every critic to heart. But this response perfectly illustrates what we see from the Christian Left all the time here at the Institute on Religion and Democracy. (Note, I’ve no idea if this individual is a left-leaning Christian or not.)
By the way, the article contains excruciating details of a Boko Haram fighter who threw Rebecca’s three-year-old son into a river. “You’re not ready to convert to Islam, so I’m going to teach you a lesson,” the fighter carelessly told her. Then Rebecca watched as her baby boy drowned.
So, you can see why my blood was boiling after the Twitter user responded the way he did. Boko Haram killed her baby boy, but yes let’s take this opportunity to talk about the failures of American Christianity.
How can one understand the gravity and urgency of Christian persecution—atrocious human rights violations–happening overseas every day if other Christians consistently take the opportunity to constantly point out America Christianity’s failures instead?
“Sadly, such experiences aren’t all that uncommon in Nigeria, where Boko Haram has killed tens of thousands and displaced an estimated 2.6 million people since its founding in 2002, the Crux article goes on to explain. “Partly as a result of the violence, some 3.8 million people in the region are malnourished, and tens of thousands of children have died of hunger.”
Rebecca’s story is not an isolated occurrence. And yet, I read popular Christian Left bloggers’ countless articles bashing the American Christian persecution complex. True, American Christians are in no way experiencing the persecution happening abroad. I agree. (Although, we would likely differ on our understanding of religious freedom infringements taking place on Christian florists, bakers, and civil servants.) These same Christian Left bloggers write virtually zero articles decrying the abusers torturing, raping, beating, enslaving, imprisoning, and killing Christians abroad.
Culture applauds when Christian figures restate their disdain for the American persecution complex. It’s the easy narrative that stirs much of the Religious Left’s politically-associated base. So they’re prone to retell the same “Being told ’Happy Holidays’ instead of ‘Merry Christmas’ isn’t persecution,” line every year without telling the world what is Christian Persecution and where it does happen.
What message does their silence send the rest of the secular outside world? I sense it encourages the world to continue ignoring the plight of Christians overseas. If Christians don’t care about Christians, then why should they?
During the In Defense of Christians press conference on October 27, 2017, Institute on Religion and Democracy President Mark Tooley delivered remarks appropriately titled, “Why Christians Don’t Care about Christians.” Tooley identifies four major reasons for the silence on persecution abroad, explaining:
Some USA Christians are uncomfortable with the idea of special love and particular attachments, whether to church, or to family and marriage, or to nation. They think love can only be abstractly universal. But abstract love is no love at all. It must begin with particulars. Christians are called to love all persons but this universal affection is only possible by starting with the particular affections and regard we are to have, starting with love for our Lord and for His Church, especially for its suffering and persecuted members.
On May 10, 2018, IRD will host a one-day summit that aims to address this moral failure on the part of many American Christian on both the left and right and also inject care for persecuted Christians overseas into the very DNA of American churches. I invite you to join us. To learn more and register for our free summit, please visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/global-christian-persecution-summit-why-dont-christians-care-about-christians-tickets-43888610014.