In the liturgical calendar, Christmas Day is immediately followed by the feast of St. Stephen, the very first martyr of the church. Two days after that is the feast of the Holy Innocents, honoring those children under the age of 2 who were murdered by the brutal tyrant Herod. As many wiser than I have observed, our celebration of the birth of the Christ Child is marred by man’s sinful desire to stamp him out, as well as those associated with him.
Yet we need not look to historical events 2,000 years in the past to appreciate that following Christ has consequences. This past month, more than 1,000 Christians in the Indian state of Chhattisgarh were subject to violence at the hands of Hindu mobs. Some were reportedly forcibly converted to Hinduism. In the U.S., we may have spent Christmas peacefully and joyfully, but Christians continue to face persecution around the world.
What’s Happening in India?
The most recent flareup in India — the 10th worst country in which to be a Christian, according to a 2022 report by religious liberty advocacy group Open Doors — began around Dec. 9, when Hindu mobs began attacking Christians in outrage over some locals converting to Christianity, a “foreign religion” (though its origins in India likely date to the first century). Many Christian villagers were assaulted and beaten with various makeshift weapons. At least two dozen people had to be hospitalized with injuries. Some Christians were forced to participate in a religious ritual as part of “returning” to Hinduism under threat of violence or loss of property. Hundreds of Christians are still living away from their homes, many currently staying in churches or sporting arenas.
Violence in this particular Indian province has reportedly worsened in recent years. According to the United Christian Forum, there was a 70 percent increase in attacks against Christians from 2020 to 2021. “The persecution of Christians in India is intensifying as Hindu extremists aim to cleanse the country of their presence and influence,” reports Open Doors. “The driving force behind this is Hindutva, an ideology that disregards Indian Christians and other religious minorities as true Indians because they have allegiances that lie outside India, and asserts the country should be purified of their presence.” About 2.5 percent of India’s population are Christians.
Who’s Reporting on This?
This latest round of anti-Christian mob violence has elicited quite a bit of media coverage within India, much to the credit of the country’s non-Christian press. Yet the story has received just about no coverage in Western media, with the exception of one Catholic website, The Pillar. Consider that: Mob violence against a religious minority affecting more than a thousand people in a country with a history of violence against religious minorities is not receiving any attention from liberal corporate media.
For example, CNN’s recent reporting on India has been on Covid and climate change. The New York Times’ most recent reporting on India has been on food delivery apps. The Washington Post has been reporting on a high-profile murder case. In other words, to our legacy media, the wide-scale persecution of Christians isn’t even newsworthy.
More of the Same in the New Year
As I reported at the beginning of last year for The Federalist, Christians around the world suffer deadly persecution for their faith. Almost 6,000 Christians were killed for their faith in 2021, an increase of almost 25 percent from 2020. International aid organizations are projecting increased persecution of Christians in various hotspots such as Nigeria, India, and China for 2023. The total number of Christians killed in 2022 has not yet been released.
As I discuss in my book “The Persecuted,” the persecution of Christians is truly a global phenomenon, occurring even in “tolerant” democratic countries such as Indonesia, Egypt, Algeria, and Turkey. Moreover, as Western media become ever more antagonistic toward Christianity, we can expect less-and-less reporting of attacks on Christians, both because of their ignorance of such things and because of their unwillingness to report on stories that don’t reinforce the sexual and racial narratives that are foremost on their ideological agenda.
Reasons to Be Grateful, Vigilant, and Prayerful
We in America often discuss, rightly, our concerns with growing antipathy toward Christianity in our nation, especially given the rising number of religiously unaffiliated adults. We see the effect of that shift not only in media coverage but in our public schools, our libraries, and even our businesses. We see it in attacks on Christian hospitals, adoption agencies, and businesses.
And yet, if we take a quick survey around the world, we have hardly seen anything. Despite our nation’s many imperfections, Christians still worship freely, with violent actions against our persons or churches remarkably rare. Terrorists do not violently attack groups of American Christians, as regularly happens in Nigeria and Pakistan, nor do mobs periodically drive American Christians from their homes. There are, thankfully, no laws that have dramatically curtailed our ability to practice our faith freely. We are free to evangelize our neighbor — an ESPN analyst (and Christian) even recently offered a prayer on national television.
And yet such is not the case for millions of Christians around the world, especially in Muslim nations, many of which have outlawed converting to Christianity or the building of new churches. In some countries, like Pakistan, Christians have been put on death row for “blaspheming” Islam. In totalitarian regimes such as China and North Korea, many Christians are forced to worship in secret for fear of reprisal, arrest, and even death.
Thank God America still seems far away from some terrors. For this, we should be deeply grateful, even if we remain vigilant against rising swells of anti-Christian sentiment, especially among younger Americans. And we must pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ who continue to hold onto their faith in the face of tremendous pressure. Their remarkable resilience may be the right thing to do, but it certainly is not easy.