Why People or Governments Become Persecutors

Generally speaking, Christians are seen as a threat to prevailing religious beliefs (where religious belief is equated with cultural, political, or ethnic identity), to social stability (breaking up family and community unity), and political allegiances (where religion and state are closely identified or identical). The more militant, radical groups within a religion (like Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism) target Christians because of the radical groups’ attitudes toward “non-believers” and the belief that Christians blaspheme their gods. Religious nationalism can become a political tool to manipulate, coerce, and control the population.

Tribalism, which can be a radical form of ethno-centrism, sees the tribe as the most important allegiance in life, and loyalty to another god or entity destroys social cohesiveness. They may see Christianity as a Western religion which threatens the traditional social fabric of the tribe (family relationships, traditional religious beliefs, customs, etc.). The same can be said of other major world religions as well. 

Governments become persecutors when there is an ideological clash with Christian allegiance to Christ, especially when the state seeks to be the ultimate authority and demands total allegiance. In Communism, the atheistic ideology and demand for total allegiance to the state makes Christians an immediate enemy of the state. In many countries the pressure of government is meant to stamp out Christianity altogether, while in Western countries the goal is to allow religious freedom but to make religion ineffective in influencing public life, morals, or policy. The attempt to keep Christianity from being fully Christian (as when the name of Christ cannot be mentioned in public prayer) or to relegate it to private life is a subtle form of harassment and discrimination calculated to keep Christian influence from the public forum, in hope that it will merely fade away. 

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