Now, with the release of Meriam Ibrahim, the world can put a face to the thousands of persecuted Christians around the world. This is the kind of ordinary, intelligent and courageous young woman who is willing to suffer for her faith. Will Meriam’s example help to change the rising tide of anti-Christian attacks?
It is difficult to be optimistic. The spirit of hatred that lies beneath the varied persecutions worldwide is unlikely to change. Unless there is a miraculous shift in the hearts and minds of the persecutors, Meriam’s face is likely to become the icon of a permanent and growing problem for Christians. In the present climate her ordeal may become more common not less.
Those who watch the signs of the times cannot help but notice the growing spirit of rage towards Christians not only from Muslims but also from atheists and secularists in the developed world. Philip Jenkins’ volume The New Anti-Catholicism: the Last Acceptable Prejudice highlights the history of anti-Catholicism in the United States and charts its worrying rise in the United States today. Legal decisions about healthcare and workers’ rights are already infringing on the rights of Christians in the USA.
Meriam’s release is a moment of joyful victory, but it is also a reminder that persecution against Christians is on the rise and that all who take their faith seriously should be aware that the ugly beast of anti Christian hatred can rear its head anywhere–even in societies that are tolerant and sophisticated–even in countries that seem to prize religious freedom.
Father Dwight Longenecker is the author of The Romance of Religion—Fighting for Goodness, Truth and Beauty. Visit his blog, browse his books and be in touch at dwightlongenecker.com