Faith-Based Persecution


A Faith Under Attack
Rupert Shortt
Eerdmans, $26, 328 pp.

In their recent study on religious demographics, “Christianity 2011: Martyrs and the Resurgence of Religion,” David B. Barrett and Todd M. Johnston estimate that one hundred thousand Christians are killed every year. That figure does not include those who survive as “victims of unprovoked violence” because of their religious beliefs. Those threatened by such violence are at the center of Rupert Shortt’s new book, Christianophobia. The exact number of such victims remains contested, but Shortt relies on a World Evangelical Alliance report that claims about 200 million Christians around the world “are now under threat.”

What is not contested is that such persecution often triggers a mass exodus from places where Christians had lived for centuries, such as Palestine, and Egypt, where last August one hundred twenty Coptic families fled their village following anti-Christian violence. And when victims of persecution stay, they are either killed or made miserable.

Research for this book took Shortt to “Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia to meet people who have lost their loved ones, homes, livelihoods or career prospects because of their faith.” Of the many stories he tells, particularly striking are the testimony of an Iraqi...

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About the Author

Paola Bernardini is associate director for Research of Contending Modernities, a program at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame.