My nomination for the most under-reported story of the month is a jihadist attack in the Spanish city of Algeciras last week. A young Moroccan man wielding a machete and screaming yelling “Allahu Akhbar” (God is the greatest), and “Your faith is not authentic!” stormed into a church and attacked an elderly priest while he was saying Mass. Then he rushed down the road to another church where he hacked the sacristan to death — a married 63-year-old florist with two children. The priest was seriously wounded but survived.
Meanwhile, back in the real world, in the UK the government-owned Channel 4 is doing its bit to burnish the image of contemporary Christianity by premiering a new sitcom, “Everyone Else Burns”.
The Guardian describes it as “very, very funny”, which is what shows about the dysfunctional members of a hyper-religious Christian doomsday cult are supposed to be.
It sounds very unlikely that “Everyone Else Burns”, which in no way resembles real life, would ever come to rival the memorable series “Father Ted” in the 1990s. It actually was funny, had likeable characters and did not set out to ridicule them. Obviously Channel 4, partly funded by the compulsory BBC licence fee, believes that preaching is a job exclusively for the woking class and that Christians should butt out.
Channel 4 prides itself on being aware of the plight of minorities, but from this new comic venture and its breathless reception in the media, one would never realise that Christians belong to the most persecuted religion in the world.
Anti-Christian persecution has spiked, according to the newly-released World Watch List 2023 from the Open Doors organisation.
This annual report reveals that 5,621 Christians were murdered for their faith in 2022 alone, with 2,110 Christian churches and buildings profaned and that 360 million Christians face high levels of persecution and discrimination.
Islamist extremism is a big factor. Nine of the top ten nations for anti-Christian persecution are Muslim dominated, with Islamist extremism “the driving force behind anti-Christian violence and oppression” in countries like Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sudan, Libya, and Afghanistan.
One in seven Christians around the world is persecuted because of religion. Apart from the murder in Algeciras, earlier this month a priest was burned to death and another shot in northern Nigeria. Also in Nigeria, more than 50 Christians remain in captivity after an Islamist attack on Christmas Day, while Christians in Pakistan are under threat from new blasphemy laws.
Given the lack of interest by Western journalists, it is unsurprising that so few of us have heard of these incidents. Christians around the world are among the poorest, least influential people, and a great many of them are black — as with the abduction of dozens of women by suspected Islamic jihadists in Burkina Faso, a country that has endured terrible violence from radical Islamism since 2015.
Apparently these black lives do not matter.
In many of these countries, the government ignores anti-Christian persecution. Elsewhere, the government is the persecutor, as in China and North Korea — deemed the most dangerous country in which to be a Christian — while in Myanmar, government troops recently burned down a Catholic church and a convent.
Of course, none of this is very funny, so the Western media — including the Channel 4 news, which boasts that it is in “passionate pursuit of the truth” and shining “a spotlight on injustice”, is not interested enough to report it. No wonder Christians in the non-Western world feel abandoned.
British comedians would never dare to target Islam, for fear of violent retribution. Christianity is, however, a soft target for ridicule. As they know (or may not, given the declining level of cultural literacy), the Founder of Christianity was mocked on his Cross, so this tactic shows a dearth of originality. One would hope that Channel 4 would at least take an interest in the execution of an innocent man.
Compared to anti-Christian persecution in the rest of the world, Channel 4’s feeble attempt at mockery is not the end of the world. Whether or not it heralds The End of the World, sadly, it has become the way of the world.