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"The Signs of the Times"
The leader and founder of Christianity was himself persecuted and unjustly murdered. We are followers of Jesus who said that we are to follow in his footsteps. If we are faithful to this call, we will find that following Jesus leads all the way to the cross. But we also know that beyond the cross is redemption and glory.

While we pray that we not be brought to the test and that we be delivered from evil, we also need to see the role of suffering and persecution in the plan of salvation. Where there is no persecution and the Christian faith is predominant, Christians become complacent and comfortable, no longer having to face giving up their very lives for their faith. Pretty soon, they have been devoured by the world and have become nominal Christians. This has happened to the western nations of the Americas and Europe. How ironic it is that the nations who brought the faith to the rest of the world, such as Spain, are now in what is called the post-Christian era, and even antagonistic to authentic Christian faith.

But when is the faith strongest? When Christians are threatened and persecuted, because they then face a situation where they do not just profess their faith, but have to live it out to the full. Where is the faith strongest today? In places where Christians are a minority and where they are not free to fully express their faith, like China, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, Israel. Christians there, if they are truly serious about living out their faith, face danger and persecution. The early Christian Church was most vibrant when the Christians were being imprisoned, fed to the lions, crucified. The blood of the martyrs propelled the faith.

Today, true Christians in so-called Christian nations like the USA, Canada, Australia and the countries of Europe, can expect to be persecuted in another way. This is when laws are passed to legalize abortion, contraception, same-sex unions, and the like. Together with this, laws will be passed that will penalize certain acts, such as speaking against homosexuality (hate speech), putting up Christian symbols, homeschooling, physical discipline of children, praying at abortion clinics, and the like. In this way, Christians in so-called democratic countries will face imprisonment, crippling fines, the state taking away their children, and the like.

The persecution of Christians is intensifying, not just in non-Christian nations but in every nation as well. Such persecution will test the quality and intensity of our faith. Let us praise God for the privilege of suffering for Him, and if need be, giving up our very lives for our faith.

Report: most persecuted religion is Christianity - 200 million suffering

Thaddeus Baklinski|Tue Nov 30 17:22 EST|Faith ROME, November 30, 2010 ( - The 2010 “Report on Religious Freedom in the World” by the Catholic organization Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) states that Christianity is the most persecuted religion in the world, with at least 200 million people suffering from discrimination.

The report notes that in 21 of the 194 countries studied, there is almost no religious freedom, and that worldwide, out of every ten people, seven cannot live their faith in full freedom.

Two types of religious persecution - one by state policy and one by members of other religions - are identified.

Peter Sefton Williams, Chairman of Aid to the Church in Need, commented that the report identifies government-sanctioned persecution in many parts of the world, but particularly in Asia.

“Political oppression and discrimination, come from countries like China, from Cuba, from North Korea, and from countries like Vietnam,” Williams said in a RomeReports video.

Noting that persecution that comes from other religions is particularly acute in some countries with a Muslim majority, Williams pointed to “places like Saudi Arabia where it’s impossible for any Christian or indeed any other group, non-Muslim group, to organize and to have open public prayer. We think of places like Somalia, or we think of Sudan.”

Marie-Claude Lalonde, National Director of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) Canada, recalled the massacre of Syrian Catholic Christians in Baghdad on October 31, calling it “a reality that is sadly growing all over the world: religious freedom is more and more threatened.”

“While terrorists blasted through the group of faithful gathered for mass, witnesses of the attack reported a child, three years of age, crying out: ‘Enough, enough!’ He was shot at point blank range by the assailants, just as were 44 other people and two priests,” Lalonde said.

“This child’s cry recalls the essentiality and necessity of continuing to speak in the name of all those who, every day, all over the planet, are persecuted because of their religious beliefs,” Lalonde remarked, adding, “Unfortunately, the overall picture has not improved very much. If some local conflicts have ended since the publication of the last report in 2008, like in Burundi, we can observe little or no improvement in Cuba, Iran, Israel, nor in Pakistan.”

“What happened about a month ago in Iraq recalls that religious fundamentalism is still powerful,” Lalonde said.

In Pakistan, the use of the blasphemy law against religious minorities, especially against Christians, was denounced by Msgr. Joseph Coutts, the vice president of the Catholic Episcopal Conference of Pakistan.

Noting the worsening situation of Christians in his country, he particularly criticized the blasphemy law, which invokes punishments as severe as the death penalty to anyone who speaks out against the Koran or the Prophet Muhammad.

Although the Pakistani government has not so far executed anyone for blasphemy, some defendants have been killed by radicals acting on their own initiative.

“We want to have our equality and all our rights as equal citizens of Pakistan. We are not against our country, we want to stay in the country. We are not leaving the country,” Msgr. Coutts said in the RomeReports video.

A case in point is that of Asia Bibi, a 45-year-old Christian woman from a village outside Lahore, who was sentenced to death after being found guilty by a Punjab court of insulting the Prophet Mohammed.

Auxiliary Bishop Sebastian Shaw of Lahore wrote a letter in her defense which he presented personally at the Vatican.

In response, Pope Benedict XVI made a public statement appealing on Asia’s behalf.

The verdict is expected to be appealed to Pakistan’s High Court. Bishop Shaw told Aid to the Church in Need in an interview November 29 that he was hopeful of success.

“Some High Court lawyers have said they have already studied the case and believe that the charges against her are not proven. The right way to proceed is for Christian lawyers and human rights activists to work together on an appeal case. Through these means we will succeed,” Bishop Shaw said.

The ACN report also reveals that religious freedom has declined in the United States and Europe by the radicalization of secularism.

Spain is cited for its prohibition of religious symbols in public places, while France and Germany are mentioned for discrimination against Islamic communities and hostility toward the Catholic Church because of their position on family issues and defense of life.

For more information on the activities of Aid to the Church in Need, visit their website here. (

The 2010 Report on Religious Freedom in the World will be available worldwide in six languages on CD-Rom. In Canada it will be available in French and English and may be ordered by phone or email.

Aid to the Church in Need Canada
Phone: 514-932-0552, 1-800-585-6333

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