Interview: NCR spoke with Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah about hope for Christians in Nigeria, and Nigerian reaction to the pope's encyclicals.
Persecution of Christians
Making A Difference: Many Christians throughout the world who courageously refuse to deny Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior suffer terrible persecution.
Beheadings, enslavement, kidnappings and rape plague minority religious communities across the Middle East, and it's time for President Barack Obama to fill a job created to address their plight, a group of prominent evangelicals, scholars and other religious leaders told the White House.
In the seven months since Congress created a "special envoy for religious minorities in the Middle East and South Central Asia," the extreme violence against these groups has only escalated, the religious leaders wrote to Obama on Monday. Nominate someone, they implored.
From imprisonment to torture to beheadings, more Christians worldwide live in fear for their lives than at any time in the modern era.
Christian persecution reached historic levels in 2014, with approximately 100 million Christians around the world facing possible dire consequences for merely practicing their religion, according to the World Watch List, an annual report released Wednesday by Open Doors USA. If current trends persist, 2015 could be even worse.
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Recent atrocities committed in Iraq and Syria by the Islamic State have drawn attention to the plight of Christians in the Middle East. But the issue, with deep historical roots and myriad foreign policy implications, predates the incursions of the Islamic State. Who are these Christians? What is life like for them? And what should Americans committed to cause of assisting them keep in mind while attempting to raise awareness of the issue? NCR asked James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute, for his thoughts.
Repeated references to persecution of Christians, "usually referring only to what Christians suffer at the hands of criminals claiming to be Muslims, plays into the hands of extremists," said Catholic leaders in the Holy Land.