Last year, Open Doors, a non-denominational organization, revealed that individuals murdered 4300 Christians for religious reasons in 2018. After the report though, governments and individuals across the world took relatively little action. This year has proven otherwise, as Christian murder rates are only increasing.
Rafael Augusto B.L. de Oliveira | Brazil
What does it mean to be a Christian? To some, it means finding shelter and strength through our Lord’s word in order to overcome our daily challenges. To others, it means helping those in need. Whatever are your reasons to be a disciple of our Lord Jesus Christ, being a Christian isn’t always an easy task; our faith has tests all the time. To be a Christian sometimes means having to face hatred and persecution. During hard times, it’s quite important for we Christians to keep our faith strong and stay united.
If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.
If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
– John 15:18-19 (KJV)
Christian Persecution in the World
When I say persecution, not only do I mean that Christians are being oppressed through violent means, but also through less obvious means such as biased laws and psychological bullying. A good example of this is how in several countries in the Middle East, laws force Christians to restrict their expression of faith.
Schools commonly teach about past oppression and violence against Christians. Unfortunately, many of these issues still occur today in parts of the world. Without action, it may only get worse. Currently, persecution of Christians happens mostly in theocratic Muslim countries and areas where terrorist cells have control.
For example, extremists in Syria levied a jizya on any non-Muslims. Those who could not comply had to either convert to Islam or face death. where Christians are a minority and are forced to live under strict regulations such as paying special taxes and not being allowed to practice their faith in public. Moreover, Islamic Saudi authorities violently imprisoned 35 Christians in 2012 for holding a prayer circle.
In several other countries, Christians and other minority religions may only practice their faith in private. In fact, nations with Sharia law often ban items and articles from other religions such as Crucifixes and statues. The mistreatment of Christians is not exclusively in Muslim countries. It also occurs in the Jewish state of Israel and dictatorships such as North Korea. According to Open Doors, the totalitarian state holds some 50,000 Christians in forced-labor camps.
Open Doors: Christians Murdered in 2018
Sometimes the dedication we have for Christ can even lead to murder. In 2018, 4300 Christians were killed across the globe, according to Open Doors, a non-denominational mission with the goal of helping Christians in countries where Christianity is oppressed for cultural or political reasons. Sadly, the number is only going up. In 2017, there were 3066 murders of Christians for religious reasons. This represents a 40% increase from the previous year.
However, Open Doors is attempting to eventually bring this number to zero. Andrew van der Bijl founded the group as a small operation to illegally smuggle Bibles to Soviet-controlled Poland in the cold war. Later on, they expanded, smuggling Bibles all over the Communist bloc. Nowadays, Open Doors helps Christians exert their rightful will of regularly practicing their faith in over 70 countries where oppressive laws still exist.
An Increased Danger
As stated above, the murder rate of Christians drastically increased last year. Unfortunately, the coming years may spell out even more danger for the world’s most common religion. Several factors are leading to this. Michel Varton, the current director of Open Doors, stated that ”The number of vandalized Churches in regions where Christianity is a minority, has highly increased in the past few years”.
Clashes with Christianity
In the internet age, information is at everyone’s hands. So, it is becoming more difficult for dictatorships to dumb down the masses. But unfortunately, many countries still use religion as a tool by teaching a twisted, radicalized version of Islam.
Governments of Muslim-majority countries often see the spread of Christianity as a threat to their power. As a result, they tend to discretely marginalize Christianity through Sharia law. For some of them, Christianity is a symbol of Western imperialism. Thus, they perceive it as a sign of disrespect to their local cultures and customs.
Some oppressive governments in Asia also see the expansion of Christianity as a threat. This has been a notably growing trend in several parts of Asia with Hindu fanaticism and Buddhist radicalism. Both have taken an aggressive stance towards foreign religions in recent years.
The Spread of Radical Islam
The vast majority of the incoming immigrants and refugees from the Middle East just want to mind their own businesses and have a chance for a fresh start in the Western world. Unfortunately, a small minority are violent radicals. With a recent uptick in radical Islam in Sweden and other countries, persecution of Christians may increase.
An End in Sight?
At this time, it does not appear that the next few years will bring an end to these horrific murders. However, groups like Open Doors and others hope to minimize the casualties and enrich religious freedom. We have only scratched the surface about this, but as the internet thrives, it appears that awareness for Christian persecution may also rise. With this, awareness groups may hope to raise more funds and rally more people to their cause to end intolerance.
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Thomas Calabro | United States
The media is probably one of the most politically powerful entities in the US. This unique group can reveal dark secrets, spin stories for deceptive purposes, or blatantly lie to create emotional backlash against an event. Their social status puts them in a position where they are not only respected, but their claims are immediately revered as truths. This special status distorts any skepticism of the press as threats against the media as well as our very own democracy. Any person who wishes to challenge the media is automatically a tyrant, who wishes to keep their operations a secret from the public.
This is not a support for taking away the rights of the press, nor is it supporting strong central figure to destroy the media for exposing bad policies, unnecessary military conflicts, and his/her lies to the people. The media does play a role in preventing authoritarians from using fear-mongering tactics to suppress liberty, to engage in war, and to obtain more influence. Without a free press we would not we might not know of our atrocious policies, military conflicts, and much more. But one can support the media while also having some skepticism towards this institution’s claims.
This leaves me with the question: What is the motivation inside the media? Is it a desire to provide information to all, and truly stop tyrants? Is it an evil inclination to deceive the pubic to fall in line with their own personal biases? What drives those with such power to go out and write stories about the world, or engage in a hilarious confrontation with the president?
We all have some sort of bias in our minds and our hearts. From how we were raised, to what we’ve experienced, and even what morals we follow, we can look at the world and see it differently from others. These biases can be so strong that it is obvious where the writer/pundit is trying to lead the audience. Someone who has a political agenda, such as those from past administrations, or supporters for the opposition party, can find the spin that can make a story support their own beliefs.
However these biases can also be very minute, as well as difficult to spot. The biased person may not even notice their bias, but can find themselves following these deep-seeded inclinations. This could be exposure to some phenomenon, or the acceptance of some beliefs as factual, instead of arguable. It could be poor experiences with authority that may not seem significant at first glance but can still impact how one looks at any kind of established authority.
With a media as powerful as today’s, many argue that such a force has the ability to take down powerful figures, especially the President. This in turn gives media figures a special place in history as fighting corruption, removing a President, or preserving democracy. The obvious example is the Watergate scandal, which both uplifts and destroys the media’s role in the impeachment/resignation of President Richard Nixon. While we generally see the media as essential in uncovering Watergate, and Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein as important for their work, many argue, as well as Woodward himself, that we should not “overemphasize” the press’ power.
To say that the press brought down Nixon, that’s horseshit,” he says. “The press always plays a role, whether by being passive or by being aggressive, but it’s a mistake to overemphasize (the role of the media)” – Robert Woodward
Of course, without Woodward and Bernstein, the Watergate story would’ve either been hidden forever, or lost public interest as it developed. It is possible that many may wish to become the next Bob Woodward, exposing corruption, creating buzz, and creating a name that will last throughout history. Even if Woodward is right about the media’s actual role, sociologist Michael Schudson thinks it doesn’t matter, that the myth of the media’s role makes the media far more powerful and respected.
A mythology of the press in Watergate developed into a significant national myth, a story that independently carries on a memory of Watergate even as details about what Nixon did or did not do fade away. At its broadest, the myth of journalism in Watergate asserts that two young Washington Post reporters brought down the president of the United States. This is a myth of David and Goliath, of powerless individuals overturning an institution of overwhelming might. It is high noon in Washington, with two white-hatted young reporters at one end of the street and the black-hatted president at the other, protected by his minions. And the good guys win. The press, truth its only weapon, saves the day.” – Michael Schudson Watergate in American Memory
Regardless, the media’s past is one of a powerful entity, one that can also preserve our names if we expose dictators and make significant changes in political climates.
Every ideology has their own group that supports their stances, and worships their heroes for defending their cause. They also have their super villains to fight against. This creates a demand for stories, data, and opinions that promote their views and beliefs by telling the story they want to hear. A great example is the left-leaning sites that claim Senator Sanders influenced Jeff Bezos’ wage hike. The audience wants their hero to defeat, or even outsmart their villain, will rejoice anyone who panders to them.
The Truth Seekers
Obviously, even if you have a negative view of the mainstream media, there are some out there who truly want to spread information and make a difference. They can expose problematic policies, sad stories, and horrific tales, as well as uplifting stories about the good in the world. They will rely on facts, listen to the reality we live in, and let the people know what goes on in our world.
Regardless of the media’s specific motivation, we find ourselves struggling to grasp on to truth and knowledge without getting caught up in the hysterics. The best approach to look at the news is to have a certain skepticism until enough research can support claims made. This will not only create a sense of responsibility, but can help one look objectively at the world around them, and focus on the facts, not the deceptions.
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By Clint Sharp | United States
On February 14, 2018, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School around 2 o’clock in the afternoon. In only a few short minutes, the young man killed 17 people and injured 17 others with an AR-15 style rifle before being apprehended by police.
This horrid act sparked outrage across the nation. For months, gun control was the main topic of conversation across the nation with walk-outs, protests, debates, and gun bills popping up around every corner. Television, newspapers, and social media outlets streamed nonstop updates on the mass shooting and followed all of the controversy surrounding it. Although many believed that this shooting meant the end of our 2nd Amendment rights, it soon faded from headlines, leaving behind a trail of people still fighting to remove the rights of individuals.
Fast forward to May 18 of the same year, and a very different story is told. 17-year-old Dimitrios Pagourtzis killed 10 people and wounded 13 others at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas. Armed with a sawed-off 12 gauge shotgun and a .38 revolver, the student walked into the school’s art complex and began shooting at approximately 7:40 AM before being brought into custody. Explosives were found at the scene but were unused.
Although this shooting was reported on major news outlets, it was very quickly passed off as old news within a couple of days. So why did a shooting like the one that happened at Stoneman Douglas cause such a national stir while the shooting at Santa Fe was only mentioned in passing? Simply put, it did not match the agenda of the left-wing activists and politicians.
The shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was exactly what the left had hoped for. A young man with known mental issues and of legal age to purchase a gun obtained an assault-style rifle with multiple high-capacity magazines and shot up a school in a conservative state (according to 2016 poll results).
Truly a perfect storm.
From this, they could argue that it was too easy for Cruz to obtain an assault-style rifle. They could argue that he was mentally ill, yet still managed to purchase a firearm due to his age and lack of criminal record. They could argue the purpose of high capacity magazines and assault-style rifles in the hands of non-military personnel and whether they were protected under the 2nd Amendment. The left could appeal to the emotions of the entire nation, after all, is the individual’s freedom worth forfeiting the safety of our children?
Santa Fe on the other hand, while still a tragedy, is the antithesis of the Stoneman Douglas shooting. A minor stole a legally obtained pump action shotgun, perhaps the most common long gun in the United States, and a 6-shot revolver from his father. He saws the barrel of the shotgun off, an illegal action, and carries the two guns to school to commit his heinous actions.
This proves that the type of gun, the capacity of the firearm, the age of the shooter, and the means by which the weapons are obtained are mostly arbitrary to the amount of damage that can be caused by an evil individual, thus rendering the left’s points null and void.
It is for this reason that the Santa Fe shooting was swept under the rug. It proved that shootings and mass violence are not caused by assault-style rifles, high capacity magazines, lax gun laws, and the 2nd Amendment, but rather by evil and twisted individuals who desire to be nothing more than the genesis of grief for people all over the nation. It didn’t fit the agenda of the overwhelmingly liberal media so it was only mentioned, not covered.
The act of ignoring this tragic loss of human life brings to question what other things remain hidden in the dark shroud outside of party and ideological agendas, on both the right and the left.
How many people have been murdered silently due to apathy? How many bills have been passed without question because the public did not know?
Until agendas are put aside for the sake of information, more and more will remain hidden from the public and more and more will happen without anyone’s knowledge otherwise.
She’s not quite there yet, but at some point soon, my mother won’t know who I am. During my last visit, my sister-in-law mentioned that in one doctor’s appointment she thought it was 1975. The visit before that she left to use the bathroom, and when she finally came out she looked at me and asked where her son had gone.
The question posed in the headline is intended to be provocative because Alzheimer’s disease is itself a provocation. Even our most conventional common sense notions of self find themselves on shaky ground in the presence of an illness that systematically robs someone of their memory. When you take away the memories that define our relationships with each other, what’s left?
A paternity test would, of course, reveal that I am very much the son of the woman who can’t remember for more than a minute or two where I live, what I’m doing for a living, or even that I was in the room when she left to use the toilet. But parenthood isn’t just a question of genes. An egg or sperm donor can genetically be the parent of a child, yet their lack of knowledge and concern about their progeny renders them a mere necessity vastly outnumbered by the day-to-day sufficiencies the individuals raising the child have to offer.
The answer to the question regarding Alzheimer’s is still never, but it is half the answer it used to be. Or it very soon will be. There was once two of us that recognized the relationship between us and understood our particular versions of the history we had built up together over the years. Now there is only one.
Death would have the same affect, I suppose. But death robs us of the chance to look a parent in the eyes and converse with them. Even when that conversation repeats every few minutes the voice sounds the same and the body is still there moving more or less as it was before. Not so with the grave. There’s a finality there we can live with because we understand the rules, and mortality is the biggest rule of them all.
Now our shared history is all my responsibility, and I’m not feeling up to the task. My own memory is as tainted with emotion and colored by personal bias as anyone else’s. My version of events is as much a collection of impressions and feelings as it is a record of shared experiences. I, like my mother, am not the same person I used to be, and I sometimes have trouble remembering who that person was. Alzheimer’s undoes our definition of what makes a relationship real, but in doing so it reveals that, whatever else they may be, relationships aren’t just the stuff of accurate memories.