Persecuted Communities

  1. Persecuted Christians, particularly leaders, should be encouraged to come together as equals with those facing persecution in analogous situations to develop best practices. For example, activists from several South Asian countries have united to argue and work against anti-conversion and blasphemy laws in countries in their region. 
  2. Domestic advocacy is most effective when done quietly and respectfully by Christian leaders who have nurtured relationships with local and national officials, as in Laos and Vietnam. 
  3. Christians should consider keeping local festivals, dress codes, customs, and cultural symbols where these do not conflict with their faith. Local styles of worship can also be retained so long as they are supportive of, and do not undermine, Christian beliefs and teachings. 
  4. Persecuted churches should, where possible, be a vibrant part of their society, rather than isolated islands that refuse contact with other faiths, involvement in local societal issues, or social outreach. Churches can demonstrate to the authorities by their presence and actions that they promote harmony and the common good. In doing so, they can counter false stereotypes of being “fifth columns” or agents of the West. 
  5. Persecuted churches should avoid giving unnecessary offense and bringing on “avoidable” persecution by adopting (where possible) culturally sensitive measures to avoid community tensions. For example, churches can monitor sound levels during worship, avoid staging events on other religions’ festival days, rely as much as possible on indigenous leadership, and avoid disrespectful public comments about other religions. 
  6. Persecuted churches should engage in interfaith solutions to address poverty and marginalization in areas where lack of development helps jihadi recruiters (for example, northeastern Nigeria and northeastern Kenya). 
  7. Persecuted churches ought to celebrate their holidays with other faith communities and seek to carry out common projects to promote peace and social development where consistent with their faith (as in India and Pakistan). 
  8. Where appropriate, persecuted churches should consider establishing local, on-the-ground, early-warning systems to escape imminent attacks (as in Nigeria), as well as cooperating in international early-warning systems. 
  9. Preserving the history and records of destroyed churches, seminaries, and other sacred places can prevent “memoricide.” (Such a tactic has been successful in Turkey.) 
  10. There is a need to balance short-term survival or “coping” strategies (for example, setting up decentralized churches having little contact with each other) with longer-term strategies (for example, solidarity among churches to resist persecution and to enable standing together under attack). 
  11. Christian denominations of differing types should work cooperatively and closely, both to support one another and, where appropriate and helpful, to present a united front to non-Christians.