Opinions

Religious Persecution: Many belief systems are faced with discrimination even apart from Christianity.

      Religious persecution– something that Christians hear too often; however, religions across the world today still experience varying levels of persecution and oppression for believing in their faith. Religious persecution relates to the systematic mistreatment and alienation of a group of people based on what they believe or what their beliefs lack.

      Persecution is seen on a global scale everyday. In Syria, there have been numerous accounts of citizens being placed under arrest for converting to Christianity. In some countries, newly converted Christians are burned to death by radical vigilantes.

      In addition to the outward actions of persecution, there is still a heavy level of discrimination of differing faiths, especially in America where a majority of its citizens identify as Christian.

      As a collective nation, we carry certain stereotypes of some religions based on what we were conditioned to think and believe. For instance, after the terrorist attacks in 2001, Americans had this fear of the Muslim faith and its followers. Although there was some validity due to the level of attacks America was under right after 2001, but it did not call for the alienation of a religious group. Even after 17 years has passed since those attacks, some Westerners carry the same fear. What went wrong was the boxing of an entire community– what one radical sect does not reflect the entirety of a belief.

      In addition, even on an educational level, seldom do public school systems teach on religion, but if they do, it is typically western accepting faiths like Christianity. For example, when I took Human Geography as a freshman in high school, we focused on the spread of Christian missionaries. We did one paper on world religions, but did not discuss it in class. In addition, we only talked about religious persecution in relation to religions other than Christianity. This perpetuated the notion that Christians do not face persecution and that there is no serenity in other religions– both of which are false. The next year, in World History, we focused on the fact that religion can change history. Although I think that this notion is true, we did not discuss the impact of the spread of other religions apart from Christianity. In the educational field, all religions need to be treated fairly and taught accurately. This will help limit the bias some hold when teaching on a religion that is different from theirs.

      I think that the best thing a Christian can do is accept others that do not follow and believe what we do. In a sense, finding friendships with people of differing religions does not make you any less of a Christian, but it makes you more human, and well, more Godly. Jesus had the strength to stand up for those who are persecuted by society. He Himself was persecuted. It is the job of the privileged and more accepted faith to call out instances of systemic oppression. Hiding behind a religion is not doing God’s work, but using the strength God gives you can equip you to defend your brothers and sisters of the world.

      Source: ABC, BBC

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