What misconceptions have you heard or had about the persecuted Church?
John L. Allen Jr. recently highlighted in the National Catholic Reporter what he believes are five myths about anti-Christian persecution. Below are excerpts from his article.
Myth #1: Christians are vulnerable only where they’re a minority.
First of all, even if this were true, it would hardly diminish the seriousness of the issue. According to a recent Pew Forum analysis, 10 percent of Christians live in societies in which they're a minority. Given that there are 2.18 billion Christians on the planet, this translates into more than 200 million people, many facing threats such as those in the Gaza Strip.
Any scourge that imperils 200 million people, whatever the cause, would merit concern.
Yet it's palpably false that persecution occurs only where Christians are a minority. According to October 2010 data from the Pew Forum, Christians face harassment in a staggering total of 133 countries, representing more than two-thirds of all nations on earth, including many where Christians are a strong majority.
Myth #2: It’s all about Islam.
A disproportionate share of anti-Christian persecution is, indeed, fueled by radical Islam. Open Doors, an Evangelical group, put nine Muslim states on its "Top 10" list for 2011 of the most dangerous places for Christians, including Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Iran.
Yet simply identifying anti-Christian persecution with Islam is misleading. There are compelling examples of collaboration between Christians and Muslims in many parts of the world.... It also should not be forgotten that the most numerous victims of Muslim extremism are, in fact, other Muslims.
Moreover, radical Islam is hardly the only source of anti-Christian animus. Christians suffer from a slew of other forces, including: ultra-nationalism... totalitarian states, especially of the Communist variety... Hindu radicalism... Buddhist radicalism... corporate interests... organized crime... state-imposed security policies... even, believe it or not, Christian radicalism.
Myth #3: No one saw it coming.
When Christians are targeted, politicians and police often play the role of Capt. Louis Renault in Casablanca, professing shock at what happened but suggesting the violence was an unforeseeable calamity rather than a failure of vigilance. Yet in a disturbing number of instances, the warning signs were all too clear.
Turkey offers an example. On June 3, 2010, Bishop Luigi Padovese, an Italian Capuchin and the Apostolic Vicar of Anatolia, was murdered by his driver, who claimed he had a private revelation identifying Padovese as the anti-Christ. Since the driver had been receiving psychiatric treatment, Turkish authorities announced there was no "political motive" and declared the case closed.
What that failed to acknowledge was the general climate in which a madman might get the idea that a Catholic bishop was evil.
Myth #4: It’s only persecution if the motives are religious.
Scanning the Fides list of pastoral workers killed in 2011, it's tempting to conclude that much of this violence isn't really anti-Christian. In many instances, it seems more like a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time....
Today's risks are hardly limited to classic instances of martyrdom, but a wide variety of circumstances in which Christians are in harm's way. Even if they're not attacked for religious motives, their reasons for being in that spot are usually rooted in their faith....
In identifying Christians who need help, the only thing that should matter is that they're in the firing line – not what's in the head of whoever's pulling the trigger.
Myth #5: Anti-Christian persecution is a right-wing issue.
Of the five myths considered here, this is undoubtedly the most pernicious. If we can agree on anything in this polarized world, it ought to be that persecution of people on the basis of their beliefs – whatever those beliefs may be – is intolerable....
The truth is that persecution against Christians, ideologically speaking, is an equal-opportunity enterprise....
Defending persecuted Christians, in other words, is hardly an effort that should concern the political and theological right alone. Styling anti-Christian persecution as a political football is not only an obscenity, but it's factually inaccurate.
Do you agree with John L. Allen Jr.’s statements? Which myths would you remove or add to his list? Which would you clarify?