Religious persecution is the systematic mistreatment of an individual or group of individuals as a response to their religious beliefs or affiliations or lack thereof.
The tendency of societies or groups within society to alienate or repress different subcultures is a recurrent theme in human history. Moreover, because a person’s religion often determines to a significant extent his or her morality, worldview, self-image, attitudes towards others, and overall personal identity, religious differences can be significant cultural, personal, and social factors.
Religious persecution may be triggered by religious bigotry (i.e. the denigration of practitioners’ religions other than those of the oppressors) or by the State when it views a particular religious group as a threat to its interests or security. At a societal level, this dehumanization of a particular religious group may readily turn into violence or other forms of persecution. Indeed, in many countries, religious persecution has resulted in so much violence that it is considered a human rights problem. -Wikipedia.org
Religious persecution isn’t just something you read about in history or something that happened a long, long time ago. It’s very much alive today. We all know it, even if we refuse to think about it. We’ve all heard about the Christians fleeing for their lives in ISIS controlled areas in the Middle East. We’ve heard about the children being beheaded in front of their Christian parents. It’s real. And it is happening today. And it is very much about Christianity.
I will be the first to admit that I don’t want to hear about Christian persecution. I ignore it or find an excuse to walk off when someone starts talking about it. Yeah, I’m pitiful. It affects me too deeply for something I can’t do anything about. Or can I do something? I’ve learned in my life that when I feel as though I have nothing to give in a certain situation – I have everything to give. It’s called prayer. And we never know when we might be in a position that we need the same prayers.
This Sunday, November 1, 2015, I plan to set aside some time to pray for those who are suffering in Christ’s name. What am I going to pray about? I have a few ideas.
- Saeed Abedini – A dual citizen of both Iran and America, has been detained in Iran since 2012. The former Muslim converted to Christianity and spent the early 2000’s building underground house churches for other Christian converts. He is being held because of these activities and charged with “undermining national security through private religious practices in Christian homes.” He was sentenced to eight years. In Boise, Idaho, he has a wife and two children growing up without a father.
- Christians fleeing ISIS controlled areas. I recently read an article in a Voice of the Martyrs magazine. It was an “Iraq and Syria: Special Field Report.” The article was entitled, “The Day I fled Mosul,” and it was an account of Abu Fadi and his family fleeing Mosul on August 20, 2014. The story recounted the checkpoints he went through, the demands to renounce his Christianity, the threats on his life, and eventually reaching a Kurdish checkpoint that welcomed him as a Christian.
- Christian aid workers in areas where, not only Christians, but Muslims also are fleeing the destruction in the ISIS controlled areas. The demand is great and the pressure is tremendous to help these refugees.
For more prayer suggestions, check out Open Doors‘ website. You can click on the “Learn where Christians are persecuted” link and it will bring up download options for 50 different countries and their information pertaining to Christian persecution and prayer suggestions.
Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.