On February 15, 2015, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) released a graphic video that showed the beheading of 21 Coptic Christians. On April 2, Al Shabab militants stormed Garissa University College in Kenya and killed 147 Christians.
These headlines, and others like them, are sensational. The events are horrific. Yet in many parts of the world, religious persecution is a daily concern—and it’s getting worse.
In an article titled, “Persecution of Christians reached record high in 2014. Will 2015 be worse?” the Religion News Service reported that “more Christians worldwide live in fear for their lives than at any time in the modern era.” And, citing a study by the Pew Research Center, Forbes reported in March 2015 that “religious persecution and hostility [are] on the rise.”
Knowing about it is one thing. But what can we do—as a nation, as the church and as individuals? What should we do?
Students in the History of U.S. Foreign Policy course will explore the nature of, and potential responses to, religious persecution during the Global Religious Persecution Forum in Winants Auditorium. The forum is scheduled for Tuesday, April 14, at 6:30 p.m.
At the event, students will answer the following questions:
The forum will feature a poster session, interactive map displays, quotes that tell the story of people currently suffering for their faith, and student presentations. These presentations will focus on diplomatic concerns and responses; theological considerations; areas where faith traditions are most imperiled around the globe; and responses through diplomacy, non-profit organizations or military power.
For history professor Fred Johnson, who instructed the students in the History of U.S. Foreign Policy course and organized the forum, the theological considerations are the most intriguing: “We’re Christians, and one thing the Lord Jesus Christ said was to love your enemy.”
How do we love those who persecute others while also defending and protecting their victims? It’s a good question. At the Global Religious Persecution Forum, you may get a few steps closer to an answer.