Last week, Kirill, the Patriarch of Moscow, wrote a letter to Himari Hussain, the President of Pakistan, asking that he pardon Asia Bibi, a Christian woman who has been condemned to death on charges of blasphemy against Islam.
“It would be an irreparable loss for her family, her near and dear” if she were put to death, Kirill wrote, and would “cause a great damage to the Muslim-Christian dialogue and could also aggravate tension between Christians and Muslims both in Pakistan and in the entire world.”
The bitter irony is that the chimera of Muslim-Christian dialogue is what has kept all too many Christian leaders in the West from speaking out against the ever-growing horror of Muslim persecution of Christians worldwide. In his brief but thorough new book, Hatred: Islam’s War on Christianity, Michael Coren lays out the whole gruesome and dreadful story: how Islamic law mandates second-class status for Christians and an ongoing, legally sanctioned level of harassment and persecution; how Muslims who persecute Christians today are scrupulously following these directives, which are considered to be the law of Allah himself; and how Christians today are suffering levels of persecution not seen since the days when Christianity was a despised and outlawed sect in the Roman Empire – and in some cases, contemporary Muslims make the ancient Romans look like tolerant multiculturalists.
Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Pakistan, Iran, Indonesia, Africa and elsewhere – virtually everywhere that Christians live among Muslims today, Coren shows in Hatred that Muslims are persecuting their Christian neighbors. In Syria and Iraq, Coren details how this persecution has reached such a level that Christian communities that have lived in those countries since the time of Christ have been completely decimated – killed, forcibly converted, or driven into exile – and are likely never to return.
Arguably just as horrifying as the accounts of this persecution, however, is the information Coren includes about how Christian leaders in the West have reacted to this persecution. While Christian leaders reach out in friendship and call for dialogue with Muslims, Coren writes, “there is simply no genuine reciprocity. Those Muslim leaders who are brave enough to call for similar dialogue and compromise tend to speak for small and generally fringe Islamic communities, and they are usually ignored or even condemned by the greater Muslim world when they do speak out in such a way. Beyond words, however, are actions, and the chronic persecution of Christians in the Muslim world, the implementation of sharia law, and the use of blasphemy legislation show that there is no commitment on the part of Islam to reshape its relationship with Christianity.”
Yet despite how obvious this is, all too many Christian leaders cling to the false hope of “dialogue” to such an extent that they hesitate even to say anything in defense of their persecuted brethren. Patriarch Kirill is one of the few exceptions to this, and is singular among major Christian leaders in taking notice of Asia Bibi’s plight. Last January, Asia Bibi appealed to Pope Francis. To the best of my knowledge, she got no answer from him at all.
This is, of course, the same Pope Francis who has written that “authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence” – a statement that Coren characterizes as “optimistic to the point of absurdity or even irresponsibility.” That optimism may have led to the Pope’s silence regarding Asia Bibi – perhaps he was confident that the Muslims in Pakistan who were aware that the Qur’an taught peace and non-violence would soon free the poor woman without need for any intervention from him.
That same optimism led the Roman Catholic Bishop of Worcester, Massachusetts, Robert McManus, to bar me from speaking about Muslim persecution of Christians at a 2013 conference in his diocese. McManus explained that “Mr. Spencer’s talk about extreme, militant Islamists and the atrocities that they have perpetrated globally might undercut the positive achievements that we Catholics have attained in our inter-religious dialogue with devout Muslims.”
Yet what good is all this “dialogue” if it does nothing to bring an end to the persecution of Christians Coren so harrowingly describes in Hatred?
If the Church and Christianity survive today’s jihad against them with any significant presence anywhere on earth, many of today’s Christian leaders will be judged very harshly by future generations of those holding the faith they are supposed to be protecting and defending. They are as far from the Christian leaders who became saints and martyrs in the times of persecution as it is humanly possible to be.
And in our day, as Michael Coren shows in Hatred, new saints and martyrs are being made every day. They deserve better than what they have gotten so far from their Western coreligionists. We may hope that Coren’s book will be a catalyst to bring them the recognition they deserve, and the persecuted Church in Muslim countries the help it needs to survive.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and author of the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is Arab Winter Comes to America: The Truth About the War We’re In.