Yesterday, CWR’s own Kat posted “Do Western Christians Want Martyrs?”, a short post questioning the motivations behind the recent outpouring of Western sympathy for the plight of Iraqi and Syrian Christians, currently being massacred by the forces of the terrorist group formerly known as ISIS. That post prompted the following comment: “[it] seems a bit sick to turn this into a critique of Christians or Christianity… what is it in you that wants to make this a critique of Christian hypocrisy?”
Now I don’t think it was Kat’s intention to downplay the genocide in progress in the Levant and it certainly isn’t mine either. So why critique Christians?
Because Christians are guilty.
No, they’re not pulling the triggers or wielding the swords, but the actions of Western Christians have contributed not only to the slaughter of Iraqi and Chaldean believers, but the persecution, suffering, and misery of the church all across the world. And even as Western Christians switch their profiles to the Arabic letter “nun” for “Nazarene”, the self same people continue to be part of the problem.
Let me show you a picture:
These are the first of the first. The oft-forgotten Christians of Palestine. The descendents of the very first followers of Christ. These people are literally Nazarenes.
Where is their defense?
Since the establishment of Israel in 1948, Palestinian Christians have been frequently targeted and persecuted. While not subject to the same degree of open murder conducted by ISIS, as a result of Israeli oppression the Christian population in the birthplace of the religion has been decimated, with continued attacks targeting churches in particular. For ****’s sake, Haaretz reports crosses being burnt outside of a church in May of this year (in an addition to “an increase of violence… including stone-throwing and spitting”).
And have Western Christians switched their profiles pictures to pictures of Palestinian olive trees? Have Western Christians decried these attacks? Even as Bethlehem, birthplace of Jesus, is walled in with concrete and barbed wire, do Western Christians raise their voices?
On the contrary.
And it’s not just Palestine.
The late 70s saw the Central American nation of El Salvador fall to a nationalist coup, the new regime unleashing a reign of terror against its own people. Thousands were slaughtered by death squads or simply “disappeared”, and the Catholic clergy who dared to defend to the poor and disenfranchised found themselves targeted as well, with Archbishop Oscar Romero gunned down during a mass and four American nuns tortured, raped, and murdered.
There was outrage then, but only short lived- the US resumed military aid to the Salvadorian junta after a respite of only six weeks.
Where was the campaign by American and European Christians to renew the suspension of aid? Where was the rage? Where were the protests?
Indeed, it is many of the same Christians who now despair at the slaughter in the Middle East who supported the very policies which opened the door to this bloodshed. George Bush didn’t have the support of all American Christians, but he had the support of most of them. His wars, his foreign policies, supported by the Christians in the US, made life miserable for Christians across the world.
So why now?
Why only now are Western Christians daring to speak up?
Because- for the first time in a long time-
Decry the persecutions of Palestinian Christians and you risk the label of anti-Semite. Denounce the slaughter of Salvadorians and you’re a pinko. But ISIS? Everyone hates them. It’s easy to speak out against their monstrous actions.
I am reminded the words of a character in The Pilgrim’s Progress– an especially contemptible sleaze by the name of Mr. By-Ends, who seems to encapsulate so much of what Western Christianity is:
“It is true we somewhat differ in religion from those of the stricter sort, yet but in two small points: first, we never strive against wind and tide; secondly, we are always most zealous when religion goes in his silver slippers; we love much to walk with him in the street, if the sun shines, and the people applaud him.”
You might accuse me of being too harsh, too generalizing, too judgmental. Readers, I speak to you from my own experience. My own college has joined in with the throng in adding the “nun” to their logo.
The same college which sells in its campus store products made in sweatshop conditions, and with slave labor. I remember me and my old roommate going door to door in every dorm on campus, pleading with people to join in a boycott- to take a stand. 9 times out of 10 we were turned away, and in chapel the next day the same folks would be singing “This is My Father’s World”.
Do Western Christians want martyrs? Yes- they just don’t want to be martyred. Or suffer. Or sacrifice.
But you don’t get to have it both ways.
You don’t choose who you will and won’t speak up for on the basis of expediency. You don’t choose what sacrifices you will and won’t make on the basis of comfort. If you want to claim to weep with those you weep, then you weep with them all– and not just with the Christians but with the Yezidis. With the Sabians. With the Rohingya Muslim. With the Roma Gypsy. With the Amazonian tribesman. With the Amazon itself.
But instead of that, we see Western Christians instead wringing their hands over faked and recycled pictures.
How twisted is that? As bad as things are- as real as the suffering of Iraqi Christians is- people are creating these demented stories of “baptized children being cut in half”.
Because it’s masochistic pornography, and we like it. We gleefully eat these stories up because it makes us feel special.
Now we’ll find a way to be deaf, dumb, and blind to the misery of the rest of the world- Christian or not- but if we can find a way of stroking our egos, we’re going to do it. Lord knows it makes a nice break from Tim LaHaye’s heretical garbage.
I tell you the truth: Iraqi Christians suffer persecution. Western Christians suffer a persecution complex.