By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife
BUDAPEST/WASHINGTON (BosNewsLife)– Devoted Christians in Europe and North America are increasingly among those being persecuted for their faith in Christ, a rights report shows.
The observations are noted in the 2021 report on Religious Freedom in the World by Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need. Christians remain the world’s most persecuted minority, human rights officials suggest.
As in previous years, the annual report of Aid to the Church in Need claims that Muslim-run nations and Communist states continue to be the worst offenders. It cites evidence that Africa, Asia, and the Middle East remain violent hotbeds of Christian persecution.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, the worst offenders are Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela, the report suggests. All three are Marxist-inspired states.
However, the report also notes that “the predominance of Christianity is no guarantee that religious freedom is upheld.” It expresses concern about perceived restrictive measures in public policy and law in Western countries.
“The second type of religious persecution, the more gentle one, should concern those who live in North America and Europe,” commented Catholic League president Bill Donohue.
His U.S.-based civil rights group views the report as underscoring what Pope Francis called “polite persecution.”
“If Christians in the Middle East need to fear the machete, Christians in the Western world need to fear the media, higher education, activist organizations, and government,” Donohue said. “They are the ones advocating, or imposing, a secular agenda on religious institutions.”
He noted that the pope “is alarmed by the spike in new “rights,” cultural norms or laws that relegate religion “to the quiet obscurity of the individual’s conscience.”
Faith is increasingly confined to “the enclosed precincts of churches, synagogues or mosques,” he quoted the pope as saying.
The report also cites alleged violations of the conscience rights of those in the medical profession in Europe and North America. Forcing doctors to end life through euthanasia or to stop it from developing through abortion is seen as “a growing threat to people of faith in many nations.”
Laws aimed at curtailing the rights of religious schools are viewed as another problem. Graduates of some Christian and other religious colleges and universities are reportedly discriminated against in employment.
Administrators are “summarily ignoring parents” who object to classroom instruction such as sex education or other lessons running against their faith, Donohue noted.
“‘Hate crime’ legislation is being used to criminalize the beliefs of those who hold to traditional moral values. Another variant of ‘polite persecution’ attempts to limit the scope of religious liberty, or that undervalues its role in a free and democratic society,” he added.
“For religious liberty to thrive, it must be afforded a wide scope and not be suffocated by restrictive norms and laws. It is not only offensive, but it is also downright insulting, to tell the faithful that they can pray in their house of worship.”
Donohue warned that “Faith that cannot be exercised in the public square is faith denied. To be sure, no right is absolute, but efforts to narrowly define religion’s reach are stifling.”
He added that there “would be no liberty, anywhere in the world, had it not been for the Western vision of individual rights and justice before the law.”
Donohue claimed that “These ideas did not spring from Africa, the Middle East or Asia. It is the West that gave birth to liberty and equality, and it is our Judeo-Christian ethos that shaped it.”
That is why, he said, “the movement to secularize our religious institutions makes no sense historically, logically, or morally.”