Why Don’t Christians Help … Christians?

Dennis Prager
Dennis Prager
by Dennis Prager –

In 1969, at the age of 21, I was sent to the Soviet Union. I was a young American Jew who spoke Hebrew and Russian and who practiced Judaism. My task was to bring Jewish religious items into the Soviet Union and the names of Jews who wished to leave the Soviet Union out of that country. Upon returning to the United States, I became the national spokesman for the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry, one of the most effective organizations for Soviet Jews in the world.

As such, I spoke before synagogues of every denomination, Hadassah groups, Jewish federations, Jewish groups on college campuses. If there was a Jewish organization, it cared about the plight of Soviet Jews. For decades, virtually every synagogue in America had a “Save Soviet Jewry” sign in front of it.

Over time, the plight of the Soviet Jews awakened me to the plight of all Soviet dissidents, whether secular ones — such as that great man, the physicist Andrei Sakharov — or Christian.

The latter were particularly persecuted. Though my work was with Soviet Jewry, I had no trouble acknowledging that Soviet Christians often had it worse. Few Soviet Jews were killed or locked away in dungeon-like conditions by the Soviet authorities, but Soviet Christians were.

while these wonderful Christians were outspoken on behalf of Soviet Jews, they were nearly all silent regarding — or even simply ignorant of — the dire plight of Soviet Christians.

At some point in my early years, it dawned on me that I had not seen a single church with a “Save Soviet Christians” sign. Even more amazingly, I encountered Christian clergy — Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox — at every one of the scores of Soviet Jewry rallies at which I spoke. But while these wonderful Christians were outspoken on behalf of Soviet Jews, they were nearly all silent regarding — or even simply ignorant of — the dire plight of Soviet Christians.

Making matters worse, the world’s most famous Christian evangelist, the Rev. Billy Graham, went to the Soviet Union in 1982, and in his talk at a church told Christians to obey the authorities — the same authorities who were rounding up Christian dissidents inside and outside the very church at which Graham spoke. As columnist George Will wrote at the time:

“The Washington Post reports that when Graham spoke in two churches, both ‘were heavily guarded, with police sealing off all roads leading to them. Hundreds of KGB security agents … were in the congregation.’ Graham told one congregation that God ‘gives you the power to be a better worker, a more loyal citizen because in Romans 13 we are told to obey the authorities.’ How is that for a message from America? Graham is America’s most famous Christian. (Aleksandr) Solzhenitsyn is Russia’s. The contrast is instructive.”

This history is repeating itself.

In the Muslim world, Christians are being murdered, churches are being torched, entire ancient Christian communities — the Iraqi and Palestinian, for example — are disappearing. And, again, 2 billion Christians react with silence. There are some Christian groups active on behalf of persecuted Christians around the world. They do important work, and are often the primary source of information on persecuted Christians. But they would be the first to acknowledge that the Christian world is overwhelmingly silent when it comes to the persecution of Christians in the Muslim world.

In the Muslim world, Christians are being murdered, churches are being torched, entire ancient Christian communities — the Iraqi and Palestinian, for example — are disappearing.

This is true despite the fact that the most powerful Christian in the world, Pope Benedict XVI, has not been silent. For example, on Jan. 10, in his annual address to the Vatican diplomatic corps, he spoke of “the Christian communities in (the Middle East) which suffer greatly because of their fidelity to Christ and the Church … the attacks which brought death, grief and dismay among the Christians of Iraq.”

He appealed directly to the Muslim world: “To the Muslim religious leaders I renew my heartfelt appeal that their Christian fellow-citizens be able to live in security.”

He continued: “In Egypt, too, in Alexandria, terrorism brutally struck Christians as they prayed in church. … Regarding the states of the Arabian Peninsula, where numerous Christian immigrant workers live, I hope that the Catholic Church will be able to establish suitable pastoral structures.”

He wasn’t done: “Particular mention must be made of the law against blasphemy in Pakistan. I once more encourage the leaders of that country to take the necessary steps to abrogate that law.”

And even more: “Violence against Christians does not spare Africa. Attacks on places of worship in Nigeria during the very celebrations marking the birth of Christ are another sad proof of this.”

Again, eight days earlier, the pope announced: “Yesterday morning we learned with sorrow the news of the serious attack on the Christian Coptic community in Alexandria, Egypt. This despicable act of death — like the current trend of setting bombs close to the homes of Christians in Iraq to force them to leave — offends God and the whole of humanity.”

But aside from the pope and some activist groups, the Christian world is as silent today as it was when Christians were imprisoned and killed in the Soviet Union.

It is time to change this pattern. Christians should organize an international day or week of solidarity for persecuted Christians in the Muslim world. And not only Christians should attend these hopefully large events. Jews and Muslims should also be in attendance, and their representatives should speak. Jews should because it is right and because of all Christians did for Soviet Jewry and do for Israel; and Muslims should because it is right and because nothing would protect the good name of Muslims like joining non-Muslims in voicing solidarity with the many Christian victims of persecution in Muslim countries.

HT: DennisPrager.com


3 thoughts on “Why Don’t Christians Help … Christians?”

  1. It is interesting that two prominent voices making protest about the treatment of Christians in Muslim countries -are Jewish. Melanie phillips in the UK and dennis prager in the USA. The Pope yes,out here in Australia,sadly no Chirstians leaders have spoken out.
    I support the work of one of the activitist groups here in Australia,and I have asked my pastor to give support to the Christians in palestine. His response ‘we support a few groups already”. I have emailed the Pakistani Ambassador here in Oz re the plight of Pakistani Christians-no response. I have emailed the Indian High Commissioner re the plight of Christians in India and particularly in orissa state,where the Australian Missionary Graham staines and his two sons were martyred. i knew graham staines .
    I challenged our State islamic council to speak out -there response-I am still waiting.
    Thank you Dennis and Melanie for your actions ,may Christians wake up.

  2. Christian Spokesperson, Athanasios Paul Thompson has been active in supporting Christian minorities and speaking in behalf of the persecuted believers of the Middle East and Africa. He is a writer, lecturer and activist for Spiritual Renewal. He writes:
    Prager, a Jew echoes the words of my troubled heart. Through his widely distributed columns and daily national radio broadcast he often defends the rights of all religious people but seems to have a predisposition to stand up for persecuted Christian minorities. It’s about time someone did! Week after month after year I wait for a significant response from the American Christian community but there is none. Of course there are individual and small informal study groups and some few churches who may issue statements or hold “a season of intercessory prayer” or send a contribution to a missionary society. Occasionally someone like me is invited to speak on the theme. That is not enough. It seems often simply too little, too late. It makes no significant difference. Why is it that the good allows the evil to stand so tall without challenge.

    There seems a passivity that spreads like a slippery serpent into our better selves, anesthetizing the conscience while stimulating self indulgent inclinations. But there is yet another reason. We are afraid. And what fears? We fear radical Islam. We fear to appear judgmental by speaking the truth about the unseemly admonishments to violence against Jews and Christians in the Quran. We fear the pandering concilatory apologists who bow and weep to Islamic leaders for (alledged) Amercian abuses. We fear the charge of intolerance from the “Christian” left and secularists. We fear, we fear, we fear. Shame on us! Why should we be so weak? Think of it – although we Christians are not perfect, by God’s grace many of our American churches do great good in the world.

    Seventh-day Adventists for example send medical and educational teams to far away places to build schools, hospitals and churches. They even have a modest presence in Egypt and Turkey, for example. Adventists along with Mormons and Catholics often work side by side with one another and the Salvation Army reps to feed, clothe and shelter and perform emergency medical services for people here at home following earthquakes and violent storms. This is a direct result of the gentle Jesus whose example and words still inspire great goodness. As much as we do here at home and in missionary endeavors in other countries, we say and do little about the hateful persecution of our fellow Christians in Arab controlled regions of the world. It is time to be bold, strong and courageous.

    It is time to move to a higher plain of commitment. We must continue god wroks of help and healing whereever there is hurt. But when we ignore or back burner the wicked persecution of our brothers and sisters we sin against a thrice holy God! We are our “brother’s keeper” and a Jewish friend has now challenged us. God bless Dennis Prager and the foundational monotheistic religion, Judaism. Our beliefs are very different and will remain so, but our morality and ethics are so similar as to be from one divine source. Of course, that source is the revelation of the inscripturated Word. Let us read our Bible, say our prayers and stand for truth! “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God have mercy upon me and upon all those called by your name. Through Christ our Lord. Amen!” apt+

  3. May we learn to be like Jesus. Please also read Matthew 18:19 and Matthew 25:32-46. Let us pray to enrich our lives by living, not for ourselves, but for others.

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