Outside Churches and Christian Communities
Next Page : Media/Journalists
- Churches need to understand their global responsibility for Christians under persecution and achieve unity across Christian communities in supporting persecuted minorities. Particular stress should be placed on building bridges connecting traditional Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox churches with evangelical and Pentecostal groups.
- With respect to ancient Middle East churches, Christian leaders in the West should communicate to followers a theology of ecumenism that highlights the contribution of these churches to the global church and to their respective societies.
- Global Christian churches should invite to interfaith fora and academic conferences both representatives of the Orthodox Church and minority denominations from countries like Russia in order to encourage voices within the Orthodox Church who support religious freedom and protection for minority denominations.
- With respect to Central Asia, global Christian churches should facilitate interreligious dialogue for Protestants and Catholics with Orthodox and Muslim leaders to improve relations and break down societal discrimination against Protestants and Catholics.
- Outside churches should build trust between their respective local affiliates on the ground in order to address concerns about “sheep stealing” and to facilitate solidarity with those being persecuted.
- Churches should support NGOs that offer Bible study, prayer, outreach, and discipleship, including through broadcast, in order to strengthen and encourage isolated believers in closed countries such as Saudi Arabia.
- Churches should support parachurch organizations such as Aid to the Church in Need, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Christian Solidarity International, Open Doors, Voice of the Martyrs, and Release International that serve persecuted churches in various ways.
- Supporters of persecuted Christians should raise awareness of persecution among congregations in more religiously free areas of the world, teaching these congregations about solidarity with persecuted churches and what they can learn from persecuted churches. They should encourage Christians to visit persecuted churches where possible; form links with churches on the front line; and encourage churches to help persecuted Christians in practical ways, for instance, by resettling Afghan Christians in India through financial and logistical support with assistance from church contacts in India. This should always be done in cooperation with churches or other organizations who are knowledgeable of the persecuted churches.
- Churches in more religiously free regions of the world should incorporate the study of persecution into relevant seminary courses.
- Churches should ensure that voices of persecuted churches are heard at church conferences nationally and internationally.
- In many countries, churches can and ought to facilitate dialogue between governments and religious leaders to break down government fears of religion.
- Outside churches could facilitate opportunities for churches and other religious organizations to engage with local officials to pursue charitable or social work in communities.
- Churches who assist persecuted Christians from the outside can enhance their moral authority and credibility by acknowledging past mistakes over treatment of minorities or dissenters and calling attention to the opportunity to take an increasingly vigorous stance in support of religious freedom— for instance, the Catholic Church’s journey over many centuries toward Dignitatis Humanae, its 1965 declaration on religious liberty.
- Churches should encourage interreligious efforts to promote economic development and mutually respectful relations in countries where extremist groups, such as Boko Haram in Nigeria and al-Shabaab in Kenya, recruit in impoverished or marginalized areas. Peacebuilding and reconciliation initiatives should be similarly encouraged.
- Churches should be mindful of the responsibility and dangers that come with evangelism in the Global South and, where missionaries have committed abuses, condemn these abuses in order to maintain the reputation of the indigenous churches.
- Churches should only participate in inter-faith and similar initiatives, such as those promoted by Gulf princes and foundations, where there is a commitment to fully address the interests of persecuted churches.
- Churches should make inter-faith alliances proactively and not just when a crisis occurs, stressing the principle of religious freedom for all and for the common good. They should also seek to draw in people beyond churches to include activists in community development, the media, and other sectors.