Religious scholar says Governments ignoring Christian persecution

News 06/05/2019

A religious expert says that western countries have been too scared to point out widespread persecution of Christians.

Former Massey University Professor and religious history expert Peter Lineham made the comment in reaction to a report commissioned by the British government which found that Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world.

Lineham told The AM Show that governments and the media have been reluctant to point out atrocities against Christians in fear of possible backlash.

Western countries, with the exception of the USA, are sensitive about their Muslim minorities feeling as though things are loaded against them.

"Any sign that the country bends a little bit too much towards Christians would produce a howl of protest from both the secular side of government and Muslim minorities, and so they back away."

Lineham says governments instead want to promote harmony over division, at the expense of truth.

It's a classic example of a determination to produce a certain sort of result by ignoring rather serious facts.

The study, commissioned by British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt on Boxing Day 2018, focussed on the level of global persecution of Christians, in order to review current government policies.

However, Lineham suggested an approach that included more comparative data could have been more effective.

"I think it would be quite interesting if it [the report] had done more comparative stats of Muslim versus Christians, and then it would be very stark."

Levels of persecution in the Middle East and North Africa were labelled as genocide by the report, after meeting the criteria adopted by the United Nations (UN).

Lineham says the situation for Christians in the Middle East is dire, particularly Syrian Christians in Iraq.

"They've been virtually wiped out because, on the two sides, ISIS on the one hand and the Iraqi government on the other hand, neither want them there and yet they've been there since the beginning.

It is largely in Muslim majority countries, you've got states that are determined to suppress the expression of Christianity because that's what sharia law requires.

The findings released this week are part of an interim report, as further analysis of the global situation was deemed necessary. The full results will be revealed by the end of June.

The AM Show / Newshub reporter Albert Redmore