(The Christian Martyrs’ Last Prayer: Wikipedia)
Note: The following article is based upon a 5 part series on my main blog- Answers For The Faith.
Reportedly an average of 100,000 Christians a year have been killed for their faith in the last decade. Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, outgoing president of the U.S. Catholic bishops recently referred to the beginning of the 21st century as "a new age of martyrs."
Others dispute the use of the term ‘martyrs’ for those killed and maintain that their Christian faith was only one of the reasons for their deaths. Nevertheless there has never been a time since the first and second centuries where more Christians have been killed at least partially if not substantially because of their faith.
It is happening in so many different countries that the immensity of it all is somewhat distorted and most Christians in the West aren’t really aware of how huge this really is. Plus it is really difficult to keep up with it all.
In some ways it is like what happened in the 1940’s when journalists for many different reasons failed to report upon the very real holocaust that was killing thousands of Jews everyday.
Many believed that it was too terrible to be true and that a ‘civilized’ Western country like Germany could never be involved in such a monstrous enterprise. Others considered it to be mere war propaganda or excited exaggeration. Besides no one really had access to the death camps until the war was substantially over. Then the truth turned out to be far worse than anyone had ever imagined. Millions of Jews and many others slaughtered- men, women, and children.
Today we are in the midst of a ‘war’ on Christians all around the world mostly being perpetrated by radical Muslims and mostly ignored. Documented estimates put the number at around a hundred thousand killed a year. Nothing like the holocaust in Europe of the 40’s but maybe closer to the persecution and genocide of the Christian Armenians in Turkey during WWI.
What is really lacking is a context to make sense of it all. The media is covering all of these events and you can find references to each and every one on the Internet. But each story is presented as standing alone in the midst of some greater political or cultural context that minimalizes the religious motivations and connection.
Since so many in the Western media are secular folks in which religion is only a minor part of their everyday lives and experience, it is really hard for them to even consider that religion could be a major motivator behind many events around the world. As it is most reporters project their own secular views and perspectives into their understanding and analysis of news.
Intellectually they realize that religion is important to the folks they are covering but look for any other possible explanation to frame the news in. So many of the instances where Christians are persecuted or killed are explained away as unique events brought on by on-going political battles, civil war, or racial/cultural strife.
I believe that there are two major contexts that help to make sense of why more Christians are being killed now than anytime in last 1,000 years or so. Number one- the rise of radical Islam and number two- a world-wide Christian revival and harvest.