Sri Lankan Army soldiers stand guard at St. Lucia Cathedral during a May 11, 2019, Mass held for the victims of the Easter Sunday attacks in Colombo.
(Photo by Lakruwan Wanniarachchi/AFP/Getty Images)
This isn’t just a series of crimes. This is a global persecution of Christians.
On the morning of Easter Sunday, April 21, bomb blasts rocked churches and tourist areas in Sri Lanka, killing hundreds and leaving many injured.
In the four weeks since that fateful day, many in the political realm and media have commented on the specifics of the massacre, including what could have been done to prevent the bombings, what measures should be observed in their aftermath, and so forth.
Soon after the bombings, it was revealed that they were indeed terrorist attacks, or more particularly, radical Islamist terrorist attacks committed by affiliates of ISIS, allegedly as reprisals for the senseless terrorist attacks on mosques in New Zealand on March 15, 2019.
With any terrorist attack, experts must determine why it occurred. Is it religious, political, personal or any combination thereof? Yet, what happens when the cause of terrorism is either overlooked, ignored or outright denied? What occurs when victims were targeted due to their religious convictions, as in their profession of Christian faith, and therefore their commitment to peacefully spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ?
It seems that the Sri Lanka bombings were a sort of watershed event. There are various “phobias” circulating in modern times, and their use may have merit on an individual, isolated basis. Yet, in the wake of the Sri Lanka, the collective global conscience begs for an admission of what took place on that catastrophic morning, and why. Christianophobia is markedly a global phenomenon, and those who have observed what is occurring should not pretend otherwise. The era from the 20th century into the 21st has been the most disastrous for Christians in the two thousand years since Jesus’ public ministry, as charities such as Aid to the Church in Need (“Persecuted and Forgotten? – A Report on Christians Oppressed for Their Faith, 2015-2017”) have demonstrated.
So, where do we go from here? We must not shy away from using the term Christianophobia. Is this some semblance of a “call to action?” If that action comes in the form of responding how we are commanded to “love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27-28), then this is an indication that we ought to continue to obey the Lord’s commands. Admitting that there is widespread persecution of Christians around the globe, even approaching “genocidal levels,” is to concede that Christianophobia is not simply a speculation. Rather, it is the eventuality that Jesus himself promised (see the totality of Matthew 10 in particular).
Ultimately, in a confused and ideologically charged world that has apparently obfuscated what is actually love, and thus what is actually hatred, may our actual Christian love be the fitting response to actual bigotry in light of objectively Christianophobic manifestations. Perhaps, in conjunction with justifiably inserting this terminology into the globalism-imbued language of the 21st century, we might draw the hyper-secularized realms of society to note how Christians react with love — love for God first, and love for our neighbor subsequently (see Mark 12:28-31 and John 13:35, among other passages).
Especially at the junction of the human element and salvation history, the first step to remedying a dilemma is to name it for what it is, in the hopes of true reconciliation.