A rash of murderous attacks on Christian churches, schools, and a hospital in Pakistan by presumed Islamic terrorists have recently made headlines. However, they represent a proverbial spit in an ocean of worldwide, anti-Christian persecution. More Christians were martyred for their faith in the last century than in the previous 19 centuries combined, and the 21st century is shaping up to be even more hostile to followers of the Christian faith.

The recent tragic events in Pakistan are an aggressively obvious example of persecution. More insidious is the anti-Christian ethos embraced by self-styled intellectual elites of the Western media and academe, their persecutorial style honed to a high degree of sophistication, using ridicule, cynicism, and slanderous character assassination rather than guns and grenades. Their agenda is removal of Christian influence from lawmaking and the public square, in pursuit of a godless, sexually libertine society.

In eternal terms, these people cause vastly more spiritual damage than the grenade-throwers and gunmen. “Do not fear those who kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul,” Jesus counselled.

A substantial cohort of these soul-destroyers operates within the Western churches themselves, preaching a revisionist gospel of liberal humanism, while, as St. Paul predicted, “holding to a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.” Paul could well have been anticipating our present era when he declared, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths.” This concerted attack on the traditional Christian faith by atheists and fifth-columnists is the principal form of persecution encountered by real Christians in the West, while in the rest of the world, persecution tends to be more direct.

From Islamic countries come reports of Bibles and prayer books being confiscated, and people imprisoned for possessing them. The infidel is regarded as a legitimate object of violence and war. Last October, WorldNetDaily reported that at least 15 Christians from Africa had been arrested in Jedda, Saudi Arabia, for conducting non-Islamic services in private homes, and three had been tortured in prison. It is illegal to wear a cross or to utter a Christian prayer.

Egypt’s Coptic Christians, a community variously estimated at between 6 and 12 million, is confronted with increasing persecution from Islamic zealots. One 18-year-old Coptic girl was reportedly abducted, raped, had sulfuric acid poured on her wrist to remove the tattooed cross she wore as a statement of her faith, and was forced to fast, pray, and memorize portions of the Koran. She eventually escaped. The Christian underground Servants of the Cross organization estimates that there have been between 7,000 and 10,000 forced conversions to Islam in Egypt recently.

There has been violent persecution of Christians in India by Hindu fundamentalists, with the state doing little or nothing to prevent it. In Iran, Christian evangelists have been arrested, tortured, and forced to renounce their faith.

In the Sudan, it is a capital offence to convert to Christianity, and Christians are routinely kidnapped and sold into slavery, branded and mutilated to prevent them from escaping. Individual Christian Sudanese have been assassinated, imprisoned, tortured, and flogged for their faith.

China has more Christians in prison for religious activity than any country in the world, forced to work as slaves in more than 1,000 “reform-through-labour” camps. Many evangelists have a bounty on their heads. Meeting for worship or studying the Bible without government approval can lead to arrest, interrogation, and death.

In the Buddhist kingdom of Bhutan, Christians have been ordered to convert to Buddhism or leave the country. Bhutanese penalties for practising the Christian faith include no medical care, no job promotions and no visas for travelling abroad.

Despite the Western media’s obsession with highlighting human rights abuses around the world when ethnic minorities, women, or homosexuals are the victims, there is almost no coverage of persecution, torture, and murder of Christians. If any other demographic group was under similar duress on a global scale, the Western media would be all over the story, but in this instance, newspaper readers could be legitimately excused for being completely unaware of the tide of anti-Christian persecution sweeping over much of the world.

Aside from violent attacks in news-spotlight areas like Pakistan, persecution of Christians is almost totally ignored by the news media, presumably because it is managed and staffed overwhelmingly by left-liberals who have bought heavily into the anti-Christian ethos I referred to above, and are much more interested in spotlighting clerical sexual abuse scandals than the torture, murder, and enslavement of members of a religion they been culturally conditioned to revile.