The Cinch Review

Increasingly lethal times for Christians

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In Western Ethiopia, about fifty churches and dozens of houses belonging to Christians have been burned by Buddhist activists Muslim mobs, displacing thousands of people.

“The violence against Christians in Ethiopia is alarming because Ethiopian Muslims and Christians used to live together peacefully. Besides, it’s extremely disconcerting that in Ethiopia, where Christians are the majority, they are also the victims of persecution,” Jonathan Racho, ICC’s Regional Manager of Africa and South Asia, told

This is just the latest in a never-ending and bitter litany of attacks on Christians by militant Muslims in so many different areas of what’s sometimes called the “developing world.” Interesting developments indeed.

And with the Muslim Brotherhood now taking the lead in Egypt and planning to do the same in Libya, the future is only looking more and more threatening.

Christians in these places need more than prayers, although they certainly need those. Archbishop Chaput of Denver has been right in recently criticizing American foreign policy for failing to sufficiently push religious freedom when dealing with the Muslim world. The criticism can be applied retroactively to the former administration (and indeed administrations previous), but it’s the current administration which needs to take notice, especially with the volatile political changes currently occurring in the Middle East and North Africa. Religious freedom — the freedom to practice one’s religion openly, without fear of violence or punishment, and the freedom to change one’s religion when one so chooses — has to begin to be presented as a non-negotiable bedrock standard upon which the United States insists, in order to entitle a nation to be treated as a respectable partner or friend. This may seem a tall order, diplomatically, in a complex world. But only with the advance of religious freedom will the advance of religious persecution and mass murder be challenged. They are the very opposite sides of the same coin. It’s surely past time to stop dodging the question and averting the eyes. Significant progress will not be made overnight, or even in a decade, but the effort must start somewhere, and start seriously.

Religious freedom in the Muslim world should become a matter of insistence not only for the United States, of-course, but for all Western democracies which care to see their values survive what is going to be an extremely turbulent 21st century. And the same strict standard of religious freedom needs to be insisted on when it comes to Muslim communities within Western democracies. Excuses in the name of multiculturalism, or anything else, are unacceptable.

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