Why So Much Violence Against Christians

Interview With Director of a Charity in the Netherlands

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HERTOGENBOSCH, Netherlands, OCT. 3, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Protestants are more persecuted than Catholics, precisely because they evangelize more, says a specialist who writes on violence against Christians.

Orban de Lengyelflva, who is also the director of the Dutch branch of the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, made that point in an interview with ZENIT.

ZENIT interviewed de Lengyelflva in connection with his two latest books, «Violence Against Christians: Backgrounds, Analysis and Facts» and «Violence Against Christians in the Year 2004,» both published by Aid to the Church in Need.

Orban de Lengyelflva was born in 1942 in what was then Hungary’s Transylvania (today Romanian territory). In 1944 he left the country and stayed in Hungary until 1956, when he moved to the Netherlands.

Q: Is violence against Christians increasing?

De Lengyelflva: Yes, violence is increasing. It has to do with developments in the world and the growth of Muslim fundamentalism.

In recent years one has witnessed more and more fundamentalist groups attacking Christians. Occasionally there is a geographical change: Some years ago, the situation of Christians in Indonesia was very bad, and Christians in Iraq lived in tranquility and peace. At present, Indonesia is somewhat quiet but there are many problems in Iraq.

It has to do with international relations; the relations between the U.S. and the Middle East, the position of the Palestinians, the relation between Muslims and non-Muslims. In these relations there is no place for rationalism. We in the West are trying to make a distinction between Islamism — political Islam as a form of fundamentalism — and Islam. Conservative Islam, on the other hand, regards the West as the devil.

In my opinion it has nothing to with a controversy between Islam and Christianity, Islam and the West. Islamists are misusing Islam for political purposes, and to grow in power. In my opinion it has to do also with an identity-crisis within Islam.

In recent years, fundamentalism has grown> in religious groups such as Hindus and Buddhists. In this case again, politics is more important than religion.

Q: Do the groups that are against Christians really distinguish between Catholics and non-Catholics, for instance?

De Lengyelflva: No, fundamentalists make no differences between Catholics and non-Catholics. They just go against Christians.

There is indeed a big difference when you look at the victims of violence. There are far more non-Catholic [Protestant] victims than Catholic victims. It has everything to do with the way Christians live their Christianity. You know, Catholics do believe, but they do not evangelize as openly as Protestant Christians. One of the consequences is that Protestant Christians are more known and more often violated.

Q: But why are Christians still persecuted today?

De Lengyelflva: That’s a difficult question. There are additional possible answers. I have seen and studied many countries where Christians are persecuted, and I’m more and more convinced Jesus Christ was right when he said: They will persecute you like they persecuted me.

However, what he said after that is even more correct and important: Don’t be afraid in such situations, I will be with you. I’m not a theologian but it’s an interesting theological question too. Historically, there is no room for doubt; 2,000 years of Christianity has proved this!

It has to do with struggle for more power. Why did Communist regimes persecute the churches? Because they were dangerous for Communist ideas, for Communist rule over society, etc. Enemies of Christianity see Christians as an enormous bloc of more than 1 billion people.

I’m afraid it has to do with the secularization of a large part of Christianity; norms and values are changing and disappearing. A secularized [Western] world is a danger for the conservative Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu world.

In my book I wrote that around 140,000 Christians are murdered every year. Of course, there are no lists with the names. It is about statistical facts. Christians are physically punished, tortured, imprisoned, raped, etc.

Q: Why are you personally involved in this particular field?

De Lengyelflva: It is related to several things. For some years, about eight, my parents and I were persecuted because of our religion and my parents’ background.

I’m a Church-historian, specialized in Church persecution in Communist countries. I was reading about the persecution of different groups in the world; I didn’t read anything about Christians; I was keen to find out the position of Christians in the world.

The Catholic Church spoke only about martyrs, and not about Christians dying not out of free will, but just because they are Christians. There is a difference between martyrs and the 140,000 Christians who are dying every year.

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