The West Must Save Persecuted Christians

Christians have been persecuted since the very beginnings of the faith and always will be. But paradoxical as it may be, Christianity has also expanded thanks to the testimony of the martyrs. Although they’re not thrown to the lions these days, some are harshly punished for owning a Bible in Saudi Arabia (even executed in North Korea), or crucified by the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. Their stories deserve to be told.

It’s difficult to estimate how many Christians died in the earlier centuries, but the absolute numbers, are much bigger in our time. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI rightly declared in 2010 that Christians are the most persecuted faith group today, and Pope Francis also mentions that fact frequently.

This is not just a recent phenomenon. In 1860, Muslims attacked Christians in Damascus, killing tens of thousands of civilians, destroying hundreds of Christian villages and churches. The Papal States and Western consulates immediately started urging action to save Christianity in the Levant. Meanwhile, the Western powers (mainly France and Great Britain, but also Russia) intervened and threatened the Ottoman Sultan with sanctions unless he immediately stopped the massacres. Warships bombarded the Eastern Mediterranean and the massacres stopped within a week.

By contrast when twenty-one Coptic Christians were beheaded on the shores of Libya this year, the reaction of the West was shameful, but not surprising. The White House and the Élysée Palace condemned the violence and crimes against innocents. But neither explicitly mentioned that the killers were Islamist extremists and that the victims were simple workers killed just for being Christians. The Islamists themselves issued a video in which they had no problem with identifying their prisoners as Coptic Orthodox.

After the massacre, the Egyptian state (which may be shifting its main alliance from America to Orthodox Russia) declared three days of national mourning and bombarded the positions of the terrorist group in Libya. Egypt’s president promised that a church would be built in memory of the martyrs in the Minya Governorate, the victims’ homeland.

Meanwhile in the West, though 3.5 million people, including fifty heads of state, marched in France in solidarity with the Charlie Hebdo victims, no massive rally was organized over the Libyan martyrs, and very few political or religious leaders even expressed solidarity with persecuted Christians.

The secular, egalitarian West is denying its Christian past and heritage, trying to convince itself that freedom means freedom from Christian elements. Signs of de-Christianization are evident in everyday life, whether it’s banning wearing the cross in public or excluding Christian voices from the public square – in the name of tolerance – or even calling it hate speech to criticize LGBTQ activities and political Islam. This cannot continue unless the West intends to commit suicide.

Mourning the Coptic Christians murdered by ISIS
Mourning the Coptic Christians murdered by ISIS

The period after World War II brought prosperity in Western Europe, which led to the decline of birth rates and a growing need for a cheap workforce. The consequent liberalization of immigration policies and efforts towards the reunification of families produced a sharp rise in the number of Muslim workers in Western Europe – far more than in North America.

Current demographic trends show that Muslims could become a majority of young people within a few decades in many European cities. The identity crisis and secularization going on among people of Christian heritage (mainly Protestant) is making the issue even more difficult and political parties are behaving in ways that they think will maximize the number of Muslim votes.

Oil-rich Arab monarchies are supplying the funds to increase the power of the Muslim lobby in education, and in the domestic and foreign policies of EU member states. Mega-mosques are being built in major European cities, Muslim prayer rooms are allowed in state-owned institutions, and “Islamophobia” is being criminalized, making it more difficult to speak out against the words and actions of radical Muslims.

Meanwhile, the mainly leftist media shows Muslims as victims of wars and colonization, and Christians (especially traditional Christian institutions like the Catholic Church) are portrayed as murderers responsible for the Crusades, Spanish Inquisition, violent Christianization of Native Americans, and wars that ravaged Europe for decades.

European Christians are not responding even when truth is on their side. When’s the last time you heard about the multiple historic assaults of Muslims against the West? Current Christian victims are never mentioned as being Christians unless they rebel against authority and hierarchy. With the help of the progressive media, “sexual minorities” monopolize public opinion and draw attention away from attacks on Christians in Pakistan, Egypt, Nigeria, and elsewhere.

These are just some of the many reasons why second-generation Muslim immigrants are not easily integrated into Western societies and why quite a few are radicalized by extremist Muslim preachers who, unlike Christians, really do preach hate.

Western Europeans and Americans need to talk much more about past victims of non-Christian (Nazi and Communist) dictatorships, to counter the secularist storyline. They should also show more solidarity with Christians currently oppressed (Asia Bibi, Meriam Ibrahim, etc.), while the Christian media must keep constantly in focus the many people around the globe facing daily difficulties or even death if they want to remain Christian or convert.

Today’s West, post-Christian as it may hope to be, cannot be truly said to protect human rights until it assures the right of people to live their faith freely. Those of us living in Europe are failing at this task, and we also see American states like Indiana that are unable to defend the Christian right of conscience. It’s a strange time when repression and discrimination in Saudi Arabia do not matter, but Indiana’s potential oppression of gays did.

The Old and New Worlds must wake up because Islamists can repeat beheadings in Libya in the streets of London and Paris, or even in North America. Who then will be left to stand in solidarity with the persecuted Christians of the West?

Youssef Fakhouri

Yousseff Fakhouri, whose family fled Lebanon to avoid forced conversion, is active in trying to preserve the Christian heritage in the West. He currently lives in Budapest.

  • Dennis Larkin

    It is the Catholic bishops and the Pope who must lead; we cannot follow where they do not lead.

    • Grump

      As Stalin once asked Churchill, “How many divisions does the Pope of Rome have?”

  • srlucado

    So aside from praying, how exactly can I help?
    In the past, the West went after these maniacs militarily. There doesn’t seem to be the will to do so today.
    Today, we’ve got a Pope who bad-mouths our lifestyle and denounces the companies that even make weapons, let alone organizations that put them to use.
    So what are we supposed to do?

    • monica

      Prayers are powerful. It is when we are weak that we are strong. Jesus will help us. We need to pray for ourselves and for strong leadership.

    • Grandmere

      You can give to Rescue Christians. They are saving them in Pakistan and hoping to expand. This is a very worthy organization. Visit their website.

  • pj_re

    It is not only Christians in the Muslim world who are persecuted; think of the bakers in Oregon. Christians in America are being persecuted too, without any defense from our bishops or, indeed, anyone in a position of authority. Do we have to wait until the persecution becomes murderous to mount a defense? By then it is probably too late.

  • Thomist

    I agree with Dennis. If our Pope, Cardinals and Bishops will not lead, then we must pray that modern day saints stand up and do so as did St. Francis and St. Benedict. For that matter, we all need to pray continuously for the courage to become saints ourselves.

  • TBill

    I agree with Dennis. The Pope and the Bishops need to lead.

    • kathleen

      We must all do what we can in our own sphere of influence. Only with much prayer, though. And, we must continue to pray for our Holy Father, bishops and priests who have the awesome and terrible responsibility to preach the truth without compromise. It’s a terrible responsibility because in the end they will answer to God Himself for what they have done, or failed to do. Same can be said for ourselves too, but the Pope, bishops and priests have the mission and the calling to go and preach to every nation that the Kingdom may be spread. And they said “yes” when they received the Sacrament of Holy Orders.

  • punditwannabe

    Author says of the Left’s propaganda: ” Catholic Church) are portrayed as murderers responsible for the Crusades, Spanish Inquisition, violent Christianization of Native Americans, and wars that ravaged Europe for decades.” Funny, the Pope must be a leftist because that’s what he does too.

    • Jill

      Isn’t another Crusade exactly what’s being called for in response to this latest attack by Muslims?

      • Carmen Sepulveda

        No, speaking the truth is what is being called for.

        • Jill

          “Warships bombarded the Eastern Mediterranean and the massacres stopped within a week.”
          We can talk and talk and talk all we want. Talk is not going to save one Christian from being beheaded by ISIS. A warship might. Some evil can only be stopped with physical force and I would consider physical force against ISIS to be another Crusade – and I would have no problem with that!

          • Grandmere

            My sentiments exactly, Jill.

          • veritasetgratia

            Jill, I know your frustration. Surely Muslims must admit that killing other Muslims is not part of Islam and they are certainly killing Muslims (as well as non-Muslims). So once they point the finger at Islamists like ISIS and admit that ISIS has a non-Islamic agenda, then that tiny opening could permit a review of what is happening inside Islam. Unfortunately, our governments are officially secularist – that’s the difference between now and what happened during the Ottoman Empire when wasnt it England & France sent ships to fire on the Sultan? . We know that the Blessed Virgin is present in the Middle East and assisting her children there. We must pray constantly because God gives His own defences which are physically present according to prayer offered. Missionaries talk about this. Financially support Aid to the Church in Need who give food packages to Christians in isolation there if you can. God can do anything and save anyone at any time. God bless!

          • Sheila

            Scripture tells us in Revelations that the Woman will crush the head of satan. I’m sure most of you, esp. Catholics have seen pictures of Mary crushing the head of satan. Well personally speaking, since I know muslims honor Mary… I’ve been been praying that God sends Mary to miraculously appear to all of Islam to crush the head of satan and bring about grand conversions. Just like what happened to the Aztecs after Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to Juan Diego. 5 million converted to Catholicism. A grand miracle. That’s what I’m praying for. That’s bigger than a physical army. And I know we need to do battle on the ground when it’s needed. We also need a miracle in our own country. Things (sins) are getting more and more bold and decedant with each generation. Just look back. So I’ve been praying rosary crusades with many others. Let’s think BIG. With God’s help we can do this.

          • veritasetgratia

            yes to all that and there is another prophecy that in the end Mary will defeat all the heresies (I think St. Alphonsus Liguori) so any victory at all is organised by her.

          • Carmen Sepulveda

            I agree with you but I also think we need to call a spade a spade.

      • Sheila

        You need to read up on what the crusades really were. They were a series of holy wars against the muslims led by priests and brothers, as well as others. The muslims were overrunning western Europe. The Catholics fought back to recover their land and churches from the ravages of the muslims. They said Masse along the battle trail. One such battle took place on sea in 1571.The Battle at Lepanto. The Holy League did not have the manpower to win, so they called on Our Blessed Mother to help. They carried the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe onboard. A Rosary Crusade was held in Peter’s Square in Rome on the very day of battle. Oct. 7th. Victory. They miraculously won. Battle was named in honor of Our Lady of Victory, now called Our Lady of the Rosary. Check it out online. We have hope in Christ and His Church. We do Rosary Crusades all the time now and so do others around U.S. You can start one too online. We are already doing battle.

    • Carmen Sepulveda

      The Pope is a Leftists. That is why I am considering leaving the Church.

      • Sheila

        Leave the Catholic Church and go where? This is Christ’s Church. He gave it to us and said “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”. Dont throw it back in His face because of church some. God calls us to trust Him, no matter what we see or hear. The blood of the martyrs opens wide the doors for all to see Truth. It takes courage to keep one’s own eyes on Christ and not follow man and his selfish and worldly ways, regardless of how bad things get. Go to confession, communion, adoration. Pray, especially rosary and Divine Mercy. Fill your mind with the Word, hang out with strong Catholics. Look straight ahead and don’t let what’s going on pull down. God loved you first before He even formed you in your mother’s day womb. Don’t let Satan put thoughts of leaving Christ’s church in your head. Stay where you can fill up on grace, and put on the mind of Christ. And be merciful and forgiving to all, like Jesus.

        • veritasetgratia

          Sheila, you are right. I think what you lay out is a good plan for all of us. We need to cling to Christ – isnt the Church is the spouse of Christ, and isnt what spouses are meant to do – to cling to eachother and become one? Being one in Christ is the final goal so why not begin now?

        • Carmen Sepulveda

          Jesus taught from the old testament. There was no other book when he was preaching. Many of the things he taught, like keeping the Sabbath, the Catholic Church has eliminated. Sorry, I know longer believe the Catholic Church is the true church.

          • Sheila

            Do fasting and prayer. Look up the catechism online to see church’s teaching on sabboth and sunday. It has to do with the ressurection. Ask God to show you. I left church for 11 years. I searched and researched and ended up in public library. God led me to the early church fathers and to the 1st church Jesus started. He said “the gates of hell shall not prevail against the church”. The CC is that true church. I saw the CC in what the early church wrote. After reading and reading i came back and went to confession and Eucharist. The CC has the Eucharist , body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus. Read John:6, 1-66. Talks about Eucharist. Verse 66 (6:66) (yes the old 666). Verse said that some left as they could not believe. He let them go. The CC is the fullness of Truth. They will not depart from truth and follow their flesh. The Holy Spirit protects it from error. People err, but official Church teaching does not change nir err. No other christian church can say that. God is merciful and He loves us. Say yes to God and trust His Church. I did and have never regretted it. Ive been back for 20 years now. God bless.

        • Thomist

          Sheila: You are well versed in your catechism and thus knowledge of our faith. Keep of the good work as an apologist here. Thank you for your efforts!

          • Sheila

            Thank you.

  • Kathy

    We asked our pastor to mention the martyrs in the middle East as well as all Christians whose lives are in danger because of their faith in our Prayers of the Faithful at Mass. Nothing. What is our Catholic leadership afraid of??? Dennis is right – we cannot lead this fight. Yes, we can pray fervently, but it is embarrassing to be part of a Catholic community which puts its collective head in the sand.

    • monica

      I don’t know what your pastor is thinking, but here, in the two parishes that I frequent, we often have prayers for the persecuted Christians around the world, especially those whose lives are in danger because of their Faith, during the Prayers of the Faithful. The priests also speak of it during their homilies. There are more martyrs now than ever before, as we all know.

    • Howard Kainz

      Interesting. At our parish, during the Prayers of the Faithful today, and previous Sundays, we have been asked to pray for Muslims “during the Holy month of Ramadan,” that they may follow the plans of God in the Koran. But unfortunately Allah in the Koran commands Muslims to kill or subjugate Christians.

      • kelso

        Not to mention overt heresy. Moslems cannot be saved unless they convert to the Catholic faith.

  • cminca

    At the time of the anti-gay laws in Russia I read many posts on Catholic websites that stated that Russia (and Uganda, and others) were sovereign states and that they could do what they want.

    So now, when it is Christians being persecuted, we are supposed to deploy the US Marines?

    Bit of a double standard there–don’t you think?