Why People Deny the Reality of Persecution

 

There are those who deny the existence of religious persecution because they may not personally experience it. Eric Metaxas, author of Bonhoeffer, says that “those of us who live in the modern West don’t experience anything along these lines, and most of us are deeply ignorant of the sufferings of our brethren around the world. Indeed, as we read these words now, millions suffer.” 

A similarly strong indictment against the Western Church is found in the Bad Urach Statement: “In Western societies, more often than not, a lack of attention is given to religious persecution, due to apathy, lack of empathy, and cowardice, or because such reports disturb the idealistic pictures of harmonious life elsewhere, and might endanger ecumenical and inter-religious relations. This leads to a conscious repression of the reality of persecution and an aversion to clear language in that regard.” The enormity of the issue, the gruesomeness of some persecution events, and the desire to avoid responsibility (because knowing requires a person to do something about it) keep Christians in the West from fully embracing the reality of persecution. It is possible to define persecution in a manner that may, even unwittingly, exclude the West from the category of the persecuted. If, for example, we define persecution as exclusively systematic and violent actions of hostile entities toward Christians for an extended period of time, this would exclude the Western world. A more realistic definition would show that the West is included.

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