Publié le : 2022-07-15 16:27:55
Catégories : Religious News
The Catholic Encyclopaedia defines as "white martyrs" those who are mistreated in their daily lives because of their belief in Christ. These persecutions have taken place in different parts of the world for two millennia. Today, one can no longer speak of persecutions in the name of beliefs only for Christians. In countries where Christian communities are persecuted, other minority religions also experience abuse. The old term "white martyr" is no longer used today, but the realities it covers still exist.
Religious persecution throughout history
During the Western Middle Ages and in our contemporary world, there is no longer any question of persecution of Christians when they do not question the institutionally validated interpretation of the Bible.
However, Christians wishing to interpret the Bible and the New Testament in a different way have suffered persecution from the moment they were defined by the Church as heretics. Among the many examples in history we can cite
- Arianism during Antiquity,
- Catharism in the Middle Ages from the 12th to the 14th century,
- the various Protestant movements in modern times (with variations between countries).
Obviously, this list is far from exhaustive.
It should be noted that in many civilisations, a religious minority of any kind was exposed to repression simply because it had a different faith. The most recurrent example in history and still very much alive today is that of the Jewish people.
From the twentieth century onwards, many ideologies considered any form of devotion as a danger to the power in place.
From the 20th century onwards, states against religions
Christians are persecuted for their faith in two types of countries:
- States where any form of religion is considered counterproductive to the evolution of the latter.
- States that rely heavily on a religion, to the point of deriving its functioning and laws from it.
This development means that where Christians are persecuted, other religions are also persecuted. Indeed, religions are fought against by ideologies that wish to monopolise the thoughts of individuals, such as Nazism, communism in the USSR or North Korea, and any form of tyranny or dictatorship.
These regimes reject belief in any God. It is the will to control minds that governs the laws of these states. Some of these countries, such as Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia, rely on a single religion as a tyranny and violently reject all others.
The studies published every year by the NGO "Open Doors" are a reference on this subject. Much of the information in the following sections is taken from their studies.
Different forms of persecution of believers
The Open Doors group has classified persecution of Christians into two categories: physical and material violence, and constraints on lifestyles in the form of oppression.
Physical and material attacks of persecution: "hammer" persecutions
Physical and material attacks against Christians are acts of violence perpetrated in public or directly in the homes of the persons concerned. They consist of threatening, injuring or killing people. The property of persecuted Christians can also be attacked: damaging their homes, their belongings, their animals.
Everyday oppression: "vice" persecution
This type of persecution is much more difficult to identify because it can be carried out in small actions of daily life, attacking groups, prohibiting practices. Some actions start insidiously and then escalate. These persecutions concern individuals, family groups, social groups. At a higher level, persecution is implemented through legislation and becomes institutional, even attacking church authorities, buildings and religious texts.
Two examples of persecuted Christian groups
In China: the pressure of a totalitarian state on religions
"In practice, your religion no longer matters, whether you are a Buddhist, or a Taoist, or a Muslim or a Christian: the only religion allowed is faith in the Chinese Communist Party," a Chinese priest summed up the current situation in his country.
Since Mao Tse Tung took over Beijing in 1949 and the People's Republic of China was proclaimed, Christianity has become a target. This climate was further exacerbated during the Cultural Revolution, when mass executions, indictments and campaigns against religions continued to grow. Since the end of the Cultural Revolution in 1976, the (mainly Protestant) churches in China are still rejected by the authorities. However, conversions of Chinese people are increasing, driven by a need for meaning and spirituality.
Increasingly restrictive administrative pressures
As soon as the People's Republic of China was proclaimed in 1949, constraints began to be applied to Christian groups: both Catholic and Protestant churches had to join patriotic movements. Official churches were cut off from other churches in the world. In response, underground and clandestine churches rallied Chinese Christians who refused to submit.
The pressure on religious groups is exerted in several different ways:
- They must adhere to the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party while ensuring that they educate and "guide religious personnel and religious citizens to support the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party"
- During church services, there is an obligation to sing the praises of the Chinese Communist regime,
- Churches are required to educate their members about traditional Chinese culture,
- Close supervision of their financial management is exercised,
- A thousand and one hassles are imposed.
Since the 2010s, the denunciation of undeclared Christians has been encouraged by the availability of new means of communication: telephone lines have been specially set up, and it is also possible to denounce a Christian by SMS. The Open Doors group has classified persecution of Christians into two categories: physical and material violence, and constraints on lifestyles in the form of oppression.
Destruction of property and churches
Churches, despite a lot of administrative harassment aimed at putting pressure on Christians, still manage to exist in China. They are allowed to build and worship under increasingly strict and absurd rules. All the efforts of the churches to comply with the wishes of the Chinese state do not prevent churches from being regularly razed to the ground in order to reallocate their land to new uses. On one of them a new road interchange was built, on the other a garden was simply reconstructed.
Persecution of Christian families
Christian families are targeted through their children, among other things. At school, children are asked very specific questions about their parents' religious activities. If the parents want to take the children out of school and educate them at home, this is not possible because the Chinese government wants the youth to be educated in the atheistic schools of the Communist Party.
Similarly, if Christian children do not follow the pathways determined by the Chinese authorities, their academic future is threatened.