By Thomas D. Williams, Ph.D.
Forbes magazine has appealed for recognition of the phenomenon of Christian persecution around the globe as a crisis demanding focused attention.
Report after report “has been raising the issues that relate to the persecution of Christians globally,” notes Forbes contributor Ewelina U. Ochab, which includes “atrocities that amount to genocide and crimes against humanity.”
Faith-based persecution affects Christians more than any other religious group on the planet, Ms. Ochab observes, and therefore anti-Christian persecution deserves to be addressed as a critical issue in its own right.
Ochab cites a recent report by the Bishop of Truro for the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, which identified “a global phenomenon of discriminatory behavior and physical attacks, some sadly deadly, on Christian children, women and men, often from the world’s poorest communities.”
“Studies consistently show that Christians suffer significantly higher levels of persecution and intolerance,” she adds, and far from diminishing, the persecution of Christians has increased in 73 countries, according to Open Doors’ World Watch List 2019, and now affects 245 million Christians.
Despite the worrisome growth of the often violent persecution of Christians worldwide, “the extent of the crisis facing Christians persecuted for their faith remains little known and understood,” Ochab laments, citing a report titled “Persecuted and Forgotten,” produced by the pontifical charity Aid to the Church in Need.
The UK report stressed the need for a new approach to this global issue, “one that recognizes that the widespread issue of persecution of Christians is a phenomenon and not a series of single incidents of violent human rights abuses,” Ochab recounts.
In her article, Ochab also holds up the example of the Hungarian government, which has been a pioneer in tackling Christian persecution head-on by establishing a State Secretariat for the Aid of Persecuted Christians, tasked with “providing direct support for persecuted Christian communities and raising domestic and international political and public awareness of the phenomenon and increasing scale of Christian persecution in the 21st century.”
As Breitbart News reported, last week Hungary hosted its second international conference on aid to persecuted Christians, emphasizing the need to help persecuted Christians where they are rather than encouraging them to abandon their homelands.
Addressing the conference, the head of the Secretariat, Tristan Azbei, declared that some 44 Christians would violently lose their lives during the course of the four-day meeting simply because of their faith in Jesus Christ.
“We have 245 million reasons to meet,” Mr. Azbei stated, “one for every Christian in the world who faces extreme persecution,” adding that “those are only the ones we know of.”
Azbei contrasted the unprecedented persecution facing Christians around the world in 2019 — the “greatest, best-kept secret” — with the “shameful silence of the West,” which turns a blind eye as if such persecution did not exist.
For his part, Péter Szijjártó, Hungary’s minister of foreign affairs, noted that “Christianophobia is the last acceptable form of discrimination in the world.”
The Government of Hungary has also set up the Hungary Helps Program, Ochab observes, the “only state-run program of its kind.” Hungary Helps furnishes a broad range of humanitarian services to Christians persecuted for their faith in many countries in the Middle East and Africa.
Hungary’s “tailored approach” to the problem is unique, Ochab notes, and “is not replicated elsewhere.”
A comprehensive response will not happen without “recognizing that the atrocities are a part of a global phenomenon,” Ochab concludes. “Until then, the response will be too fragmented to make a change to the lives of those targeted.”