The Global War on Christians by John L. Allen Jr.
This new book, The Global War on Christians, written by Senior Correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter, John L Allen Jr, is a riveting account of the global persecution taking place against Christians throughout the world. Be warned, this account is a stomach turner at times with the brief retellings of the details of persecution activities. Yet, what is to be commended about the book is the degree to which John references the global scope of persecution, for we often think violent measures are taken in a few militant Muslim countries against believers. This book is a record of the front lines of persecution from all over the world, including stories from recent converts.
The first chapter provides a good window into what constitutes persecution from a mild to dangerous level. Allen points out specific factors including legal discrimination, suppression of worship, suppression of conversion to Christianity, and forced conversion away from Christianity to another belief (30-32). What is quite remarkable about these factors is that they cover every angle of a person’s life, from the social and individual to the institutional level. In some cases, even the government has its hand in squashing any promotion or continuation of the Christian faith. Some of the reasons that Christians are targeted are because of their opposition to immorality crime, their non-violence insistence, and the fast paced growth of it its members.
The rest of the book is a catalog of injustices starting with Africa, a section on myths, and social and political fallout. The most illuminating section for me was the part about understanding the myth that it’s all about Islam. Allen counters this idea by looking at how Christians are persecuted by totalitarian states, radicals from Buddhist and Hindu sides, and secular nationalists. Allen indicates that, “In November 2012, radical Buddhists in Myanmar prevented humanitarian groups such as Doctors Without Borders from delivering aid to Muslim refugees in the western part of the country, and the same sort of hostility often befalls the country’s Christian minority.” (206) Places where Christianity is unwelcome or which people perceive that the presence of Christians means Western imperialism are all over areas like India and Southeast Asia. The myth about blaming Islam is toxic because it furthers the clash of civilizations motif that is heard and is an incorrect diagnosis to the main features of persecution worldwide. Each event of violence and persecution needs to be examined carefully on its own terms without regard to prior assumptions. Lastly, as John indicates, “this myth obscures from view the many examples of noble Muslims who actually risk their own safety to defend endangered Christians” (212).
I thought this book was a wake-up call to take global persecution seriously. In all facets of society, the persecution of believes is taking place and we must do something about this.
Thanks to Waterbrook/Multnomah for the copy of this timely book in exchange for an honest review.