Christians form the most persecuted religion on the planet.
This is partly because there are more of us than anyone else. When you number 2.3 billion in total your numbers on most factors are liable to be higher, including religious freedom. It is also because Christianity’s areas of growth are in some of the poorest and most violent areas of the world where there are very real problems of religious freedom. The important question for Christians in the West and the UK in particular is: why aren’t we talking about this?
It is a schoolroom truism that generals always begin one war by fighting the last. This is in part due to personal factors of the kind described in Norman Dixon’s masterly On The Psychology of Military Incompetence. There is also the more general attitude of basking in the victory of the last war when reputations were made and thinking that what worked then will work again. This explains why Germany which lost WWI was willing to embrace the principles of mobile warfare and build tanks whilst France which had won a static war built the Maginot Line.
We see the same dynamics at work in the post-Christian secular West. There are those who display an aversion to Christianity which can only be explained in psychological terms. But more generally there is a failure to discern or appreciate the truth of Christian persecution because it goes against their narrative.
The accepted narrative amongst secularists is that Christianity is a massive, powerful and all pervasive institution with unmatchable influence in the corridors of power where it expends its vast wealth on projecting its own authority. This is the giant against which the secularists have fought and triumphed. That it no longer exists and has not existed for more than a century is irrelevant. When you have knocked out the school yard bully you inevitably boost yourself by increasing his power with every retelling of the story.
It is psychologically impossible for many secularists to get their minds around the fact that Christians actually can be the victims of religious persecution. It just doesn’t fit the narrative. The narrative is that the massively powerful and warlike Christian West has colonised and subjugated an idyllic Middle East Arcadia populated by agrarian peasants living in peaceful harmony.
So powerful is this narrative that even when anti-Christian persecution is undeniable secularists find it impossible to apportion blame. Last week in the USA during testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee Elizabeth Jones, acting assistant secretary of State for Near East Affairs, was asked who was behind the burning of Coptic churches across the Egypt. “Some of them are just — are simply anti-Christian,” she stumbled, psychologically unable to name the Muslim Brotherhood or any other Islamic extremists.
Today secularists, without thought of the consequences, continually undermine the last vestiges of a Christianity which formed the cultural basis upon which the Western understanding of freedom is built.
Last year the onetime Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks lamented that Europe is today ‘more secular than it has been since the last days of pre-Christian Rome’. He also warned, ‘If Europe loses the Judeo-Christian heritage that gave it its historic identity and its greatest achievements in literature, art, music, education, politics, and economics, it will lose its identity and its greatness’.
To critique Eastern religion is held to be guilty of cultural insensitivity and prejudice, even when the critique points to aspects of religion which are thoroughly inimical to Western freedom. The secular establishment refuses to acknowledge how inhibiting some religions would be if they held sway in our society. Our secularists are busy manning the Maginot Line whilst leaving the Ardennes wide open.
In 1994 Wolfhart Pannenburg wrote: ‘Western societies are well advised to recover their religious roots in a cultural tradition informed by Jewish and Christian beliefs. Western ideas of human rights and especially the underlying conception of human freedom have their basis in these beliefs: in the Christian teaching that the individual person is the object of God’s eternal love and that human freedom has its source in the individual’s communion with God through faith, and in the Jewish understanding of the dignity of the human person as created in the image of God.’
Although an atheist Claire Fox was even more pointed, ‘failure to defend the values of civil society would just add one more to a long list of such failures on the part of Western elites to defend a legacy of freedom and human dignity it took many centuries of great suffering and struggle to achieve, a defence of those principles could inspire the forces needed to turn around this great ship, now being led by its allegedly progressive elite into civilisational suicide.’