Persecuted: The Global Assault on Christians by Paul Marshall, Lela Gilbert, and Nina Shea is a book that you won't read in one sitting. I requested it for review quite awhile back, not really thinking about just how long it would take me to work through it... or to work through enough that I felt comfortable writing a review.
It is time, though, for me to say something about this book.
First, though, let's hear from the publisher:
A timely journalistic look inside worldwide Christian persecution.Most Western (or American if you prefer) Christians hear words like "martyr"and they either think of something pretty casual, or they think of Christians in the arena in Ancient Rome. Or when they hear of persecution, they immediately think about how every time they suffer from a headache, it must be Satan attacking them and trying to keep them from living a nice, full, rich life.
The persecution of Christians is widespread and increasing in many areas. In 2010, the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, the gold standard of contemporary religion statistics, concluded that Christians are the most widely persecuted religious group in the world. In December 2010, the Vatican reported the same conclusion. This timely and well-documented book tells this story well, in a journalistic and lively way, punctuated with compelling stories.
Persecuted offers readers an overview of Christian persecution, analyzing patterns of repression, abuse, and violence across the globe. It explores the reasons that specific ideological, religious, and political groups and establishments target Christian believers as enemies. Woven throughout are vivid examples of Christians persecuted and harassed for their faith. These cases illuminate the courage it takes to be a Christian in today's world. The book provides examples of how the church, including the American church, has successfully diminished or halted repression in other countries, and suggests the steps we can take together in the future.
Or maybe, just maybe, they think about Pastor Saeed in Iran, who occasionally pops up on someone's Facebook feed. And if they stop and think at all about persecution, it is usually only to be grateful that this kind of thing doesn't happen much in our modern world. You know, the world that celebrates diversity and preaches tolerance. Persecution just doesn't fit in that world.
If you are comfortable with that viewpoint, you probably ought to avoid this book.
If, however, you are more interested in knowing more about what is really happening in the world, and more specifically what is happening to Christians around the world, then maybe you ought to consider reading this.
This book is not a fun read. It is, however, an important one. The book is incredibly well-documented, and it isn't just a catalog of the awful things being done today. The authors also are calling us -- those in the not really persecuted church -- to take action. To be aware, to be praying, to not be so complacent.
As much as I would prefer to pretend persecution and martrydom was not a reality in today's world, I would rather be informed. My 15 year old (he's still 15 tonight anyway) has been sneaking this book away from me for the same reason. He says this isn't a great story, and he'd much rather read, well, almost anything. "But this is important. People should know this stuff."
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”