It is a chilling report about Christian persecution 2.0 (or is it 200.0) in the world today. The Catholic News Agency offers the following report
Experts testifying before U.S. lawmakers warned that many Christians around the world are facing serious persecution that often goes unreported and undeterred.
“Flagrant and widespread persecution of Christians rages in the Middle East even as we meet,” said Archbishop Francis A. Chullikatt, permanent observer of the Holy See Mission at the United Nations.
Religious disputes, prejudices against minorities, and political conflicts heighten the persecution, he said, leaving Christians “caught in the crossfire and they are becoming the most vulnerable group.”
Archbishop Chullikatt spoke at a Feb. 11 congressional subcommittee hearing on the global persecution of Christians.
U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), chairman of congressional panel that oversees international human rights issues, emphasized that the hearing’s focus “on anti-Christian persecution is not meant to minimize the suffering of other religious minorities who are imprisoned or killed for their beliefs.”
Rather, he said, the event was intended to highlight that Christians “remain the most persecuted religious group the world over,” even amid the persecution faced by adherents to other faiths.
Archbishop Chullikatt explained that religious freedom “is rooted in the dignity of the person.” It is the most basic human right and freedom “by which other rights necessarily follow, and must always be protected, defended and promoted.”
John Allen Jr., associate editor at the Boston Globe and author of the recent book “The Global War on Christians,” also testified, saying that Western countries “have a problem of narrative” in addressing the persecution of Christians around the world.
In Western countries such as the United States, people tend to think of Christianity as an “all-powerful” institution, Allen said. People often associate the religion either with “an affluent American male pulling up to church” in a fancy car or with “chapters of history in which Christianity is cast as the villain,” such as religious wars or the Salem Witch Trials.
But in reality, he said, a majority of the world’s estimated 2.3 billion Christians are poor and suffering.
The Vatican analyst observes in his recent book that throughout the first decade of the 21st century, 100,000 Christians were killed per year – 11 new martyrs every hour – and secular human rights groups estimate that 80 percent of religious freedom violations are current directed against Christians.
“These Christians often carry a double or triple stigma, representing not only a faith that arouses suspicion but also an oppressed ethnic group or social class,” treated as “targets of convenience” for people who are angry at Western foreign policies, he explained at the hearing.
This widespread persecution and treatment of Christian communities as a scapegoat “ought to concern everyone” of all faiths, Allen stated, because it is “a menace to human rights.”