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In this interconnected world, news spreads swiftly, keeping you informed on global events. But some stories remain untold, failing to garner headlines or social media attention. The plight of persecuted Christians represents one such invisible struggle — an ongoing human rights crisis occurring in the shadows. It is time to shine a light on this marginalized group and the discrimination they face worldwide.
Social Exclusion and Ostracization
High-profile Christian persecution stories may come to mind, but everyday ostracism and exclusion are just as prevalent. Merely professing one’s faith in public can lead to being shunned in their community.
Consider the story of Asia Bibi in Pakistan. In 2009, false blasphemy accusations resulted in her arrest and death sentence, cutting her off from loved ones. She endured over seven years on death row in solitary confinement before being acquitted by the Supreme Court in 2018.
Leah Sharibu, a Nigerian Christian girl, presents another case. In 2018, she was among 110 students abducted by the militant group Boko Haram. While others were released, Leah remained captive for refusing to renounce her Christian beliefs. Despite her parents’ pleas, she remains held prisoner for her faith.
Despite international awareness of Asia Bibi’s and Leah Sharibu’s plight, countless persecuted Christians remain unknown and invisible to the wider world. Social exclusion takes various forms, including shunning Christian families, boycotting businesses, and bullying students into conversion. Even in death, Christians are denied burial in community cemeteries. Ostracism affects generations, leading to poverty, clean water shortages, and healthcare insecurity.
Institutional Discrimination of Christians
Beyond social stigma, Christians often face ingrained discrimination embedded in various institutions, such as education, housing, and employment. This deeply rooted and pervasive discrimination creates significant challenges for Christians daily.
Discrimination in Education
In the education sphere, Christians may encounter formal barriers to higher education. Additionally, they may face informal discouragement through harassment and bias.
Shockingly, admission rejections can be solely based on a student’s faith identification, perpetuating an anti-Christian bias that hinders their educational opportunities and contributes to the cycle of generational poverty.
Discrimination in Public Resources
Accessing public resources like water and electricity can also be a struggle for Christians. They are often subjected to exorbitant fees or required to pay “converting taxes” simply because of their religious beliefs. Refusal to comply or hiding one’s faith can result in local officials cutting off basic utilities.
Discrimination in Housing
In countries with a discriminatory government housing allocation, Christians have no choice but to reside in slums, further exacerbating their living conditions.
Discrimination in Employment
The employment sector is not immune to bias either. Job advertisements specifying “non-Christians only” blatantly reveal the employment bias that Christians face. Christian candidates are often denied employment opportunities due to cronyism, which awards jobs to non-Christians. This systemic economic hardship leaves Christian families with limited choices, often forcing them into dangerous work with meagre pay to survive.
Physical Violence and Harm
Christians living in areas of violence often face a lack of protection, leaving them vulnerable to physical attacks without any means of recourse. Nigeria, in particular, has experienced numerous arson attacks on churches and the brutal murder of Christian leaders. Assaults on Christian communities aim to drive them out and destroy their places of worship.
Suppression of Religious Expression
In addition to social, institutional, and violent persecution, Christians often face restrictions prohibiting religious expression. Anti-conversion laws implemented in several countries aim to limit the sharing of beliefs and conversions.
In India, state-level anti-conversion laws tend to harass and restrict Christians. Christians have faced imprisonment and fines for simply distributing religious literature, holding prayer gatherings, or engaging in faith-based charity work under the pretence of forcibly converting.
Similarly, restrictive laws are proposed or enacted in other South Asian countries like Nepal, Bhutan, and Sri Lanka. In many Islamic countries, conversion from Islam carries severe penalties. Christians live under constant threat of punishment for apostasy. The simple act of sharing one’s faith becomes grounds for detention.
Conclusion: Choosing Compassion
The crisis of global Christian persecution shows no signs of abating, making awareness and support for the persecuted all the more vital. You must allow their struggle to inspire compassion, stir outrage, and spur you to act in ways small and large.
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