The persecution of Christians around the world may become increasingly worse in the near future, although those suffering from such actions may have difficulties convincing immigration officials of their plight, reports Faith Today (May/June), a Canadian evangelical magazine.
The persecution of Christians has become a matter of increasing concern for American evangelicals (and, increasingly, Catholics), as well as becoming an issue for the U.S government and some of the media [see October `96 RW]. In an interview, Canadian human rights scholar Paul Marshall says that the issue has not registered with many immigration officials.
Marshall says that especially in Canada, “Immigration officials are not aware of religious persecution in general and they are skeptical of persecution of Christians in particular. If you are a Tibetan Buddhist, immigration officers are usually aware of the religious persecution you have faced. but the idea of Christians being persecuted simply doesn’t compute for them. and officials may not take religion or examples of religious persecution seriously. they assume that a person would not be persecuted just for their religion and that they must have done something else to bring on the persecution they faced.”
Marshall sees the persecution of Christians increasing in the next century. Two reasons are that “Islamic radicalism” and ethnic religious nationalism are still on the upswing. Also, in the remaining communist world — China, North Korea, Vietnam, and Laos — “governments are feeling increasingly threatened by the realization that communism doesn’t work as an economic system. So their major claim to legitimacy is gone.
Furthermore, nearly all of them are having to move towards much more open markets. They don’t know whether they can loosen economic controls and still maintain political controls. So these governments tend to crack down on anybody who has loyalties to something other than the government.”
(Faith Today, M.I.P. Box 3745, Markham, ON L3R 0Y4 Canada)