When Martyrdom Isn’t a Metaphor

'The Global War on Christians'

Dispatches from the Front Lines of Anti-Christian Persecution
John L. Allen Jr.
Image, $25, 320 pp.

Toward the beginning of The Global War on Christians, John Allen tells the story of a Christmas Day 2011 bombing by the Islamist group Boko Haram that killed forty-five worshippers outside a Catholic church in Madalla, Nigeria. This attack, like so many others that Allen describes in his book, hardly made a blip in U.S. news coverage. Not many Christians in the West are even aware that in Nigeria and many other parts of the world Christians still risk their lives just by going to church to celebrate the birth of Christ.

This is precisely why Allen, a longtime columnist for the National Catholic Reporter recently hired by the Boston Globe, wrote The Global War on Christians—and why he gave the book such a dramatic title. For Christians, Allen writes, “there’s a special obligation” to be concerned about attacks on Christians. Recalling that the Christian community is the body of Christ, Allen quotes Paul: “If one member suffers, all suffer together” (1 Corinthians 12:26). Thus Christians everywhere should know and care about the case of Nadia Ali and her seven children in Egypt, all of whom were sentenced to fifteen years in prison for converting to Christianity (the faith in which Nadia had been raised). They...

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About the Author

Gabriel Said Reynolds is professor of Islamic studies and theology at the University of Notre Dame and co-director of the International Qur'anic Studies Association.