Journalism is a vital tool to expose and combat Christian persecution

AID TO THE CHURCH IN NEED – IN LATE DECEMBER 2021, SOME HIGHLY WELCOME NEWS COVERAGE OCCURRED: an in-depth story in The New York Times exposed the growing wave of violence and harassment targeting Christians in India.

The article describes in great detail how fundamentalist Hindus seek to extinguish the Christian faith, which they reject as a foreign import and a threat to Hindu supremacy. A potent tool of oppression are the anti-conversion laws adopted by a growing number of states, that make it a punishable offense to convert someone through threats, inducement, or fraud. These are laws that are loosely interpreted and readily trigger mob attacks on churches and chapels, priests, pastors, and nuns, particularly in the north of India. The Indian government, though it professes a respect for all faiths, is idle.

Aid to the Church in Need is grateful to this national newspaper of record, with its worldwide readership, for making many more people aware of this grave crisis in one of the world’s largest democracies, whose Constitution does provide for freedom of religion. This NY Times story has the power to inform and hopefully spur to action a mass, mainstream audience.

Year after year, ACN, with its own journalism, chronicles the experience of Christians subject to persecution, and, with the help of our generous donors, offers assistance. The startling reality is that more than 340 million Christians in more than 60 countries around the world endure hardships because of their faith.

Here are a few examples that we highlighted in 2021:

In Pakistan, each year, up to 1,000 young Christian girls and women are kidnapped, forced to marry their Muslim captors, and forced to convert to Islam. The Pakistani government is only very slowly responding to the situation, as many lower courts tend to rule in favor of the kidnappers, while angry Muslim mobs threaten judges who want to do the right thing. Mob violence is also stirred up when Christians find themselves accused under the country’s blasphemy law. There have been a number of horrific reports of lynchings and other brutal mob justice.

In Mozambique, Islamist terrorists are uprooting entire communities in the country’s north, destroying churches and killing civilians, often by decapitation. The local Church is hard-pressed to accommodate IDPs, whose numbers exceed 200,000. The terrorists are also forcing young boys to join their ranks; those who refuse risk being killed on the spot.

In Nigeria, terror group Boko Haram is far from defeated. It continues to mount deadly attacks on civilians in the country’s northeast and still engages in mass kidnappings of school children, many of whose fate remains unknown. Boko Haram’s offshoot, Islamic State West African Province, continues its own terror campaign. In Nigeria’s Middle Belt farming heartland, incessant raids by largely Muslim Fulani herdsmen have killed thousands of Christian farmers.

In spring 2021, ACN published its biennial Religious Freedom in the World Report, which presented research documenting the state of religious freedom in each of the world’s 196 countries. In 62 of these nations, there are violations of religious freedom, 23 of them on the African continent alone.

Last fall, ACN also published “Hear Her Cries,” an in-depth study of a fast-emerging trend in Christian persecution, the use of sexual violence, and slavery as a tool to oppress Christian girls and women, in countries like Pakistan, Egypt, Mozambique, Nigeria, Syria and Iraq.

In 2022, the persecution of Christians continues. ACN is here to witness these life experiences of the many faithful who are not able to worship freely, who suffer violence, imprisonment, and even death—all because of their faith in Jesus Christ and loyalty to the Church.

Thanks to the generosity of concerned Catholics, ACN is able to actively gather facts from the field, and make more stories of persecuted faithful heard, moving hearts and minds around the world. We offer concrete assistance to help alleviate the suffering of so many Christians around the world.

Thank you for caring.  Thank you for acting.  All of us at Aid to the Church in Need wish you a wonderful 2022.

—Joop Koopman, AID TO THE CHURCH IN NEED. Published with permission.