NEW YORK (Christian Examiner) – Christians are suffering under severe persecution in more than half of the nations on the planet, but the president of the United States isn't being a voice for the voiceless, the head of Christian Freedom International has said.
Millions of Christians look to the United States for hope. They look to the words of the president of the United States in particular. They want to know that the leader of the free world, the leader of the most powerful nation on earth ... that the leader of the nation that was founded by those fleeing religious persecution understands their plight. They want to know that somebody is speaking out for them.
CFI President Jim Jacobson said in a podcast last week Christianity is threatened in 105 countries, mostly in northern and western Africa, across the Middle East, throughout Asia and into Southeast Asia.
More Christians, he said, have been martyred in the 20th and 21st centuries than in the previous 19 centuries combined.
Jacobson attributed most of the persecution to radical Islamists such as ISIS or Islamic State, which targets not only men, but women and children also. Those persecuted, he said, expect one nation in the world to side with them.
"Millions of Christians look to the United States for hope," Jacobson said. "They look to the words of the president of the United States in particular. They want to know that the leader of the free world, the leader of the most powerful nation on earth ... that the leader of the nation that was founded by those fleeing religious persecution understands their plight. They want to know that somebody is speaking out for them."
But, according to Jacobson, President Barack Obama isn't doing that. Instead, he argues, the president is more intently focused on showing how Christians oppressed others a millennium, in an attempt to rehabilitate Islam.
"Unfortunately, under the Obama administration it has been a depressive time for Christians suffering for their faith around the world. Christians feel forsaken and forgotten by the Obama administration," Jacobson said.
At the National Prayer Breakfast, an event attended by mostly evangelical leaders, but also Jews, Roman Catholics and others, Jacobson said Obama likened the persecution of religious minorities in the Middle East by ISIS to the crusades, where Catholic armies sought to regain the Holy Land after its conquest by Muslims.
"Humanity has been grappling with these questions throughout human history. And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ," Obama said. "So this is not unique to one group or one religion."
Jacobson said the president was wrong to take the focus off the persecution of Christians.
"He talked about the crusades and this moral relativism," Jacobson said. "He would not condemn radical Islam. He would not speak out about the persecuted church. But he talked about the atrocities committed over 1,000 years ago by Christians."
Jacobson said the president's words only emboldened those who attack Christians for their faith.
"It has been a tough seven years for Christians around the world," he said.
According to CFI, more than 200 million followers of Jesus Christ around the world face persecution and martyrdom on a daily basis, making Christians the most persecuted faith group on the planet. While Jacobson said the president should take the lead in condemning such acts, he isn't, and more troubling is that no Democratic nominee for president is either.
Jacobson said Democratic front-runner and presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton has said nothing about the persecuted church in any of her career campaigns. She has, instead, said Christians have been oppressive in American society, especially when it comes to women's health care. At the Women in the World Summit in April, she called for Christians to change their "deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases."
"Christian persecution is at an all-time high and she as a candidate has said nothing," Jacobson said. "She would use the power of government to force us to change our beliefs."
Jacobson contrasted Clinton's comment with those of Republican candidates for president, such as Sen. Ted Cruz [R-TX], Sen. Rand Paul [R-KY] and businessman Donald Trump.
"This is a president and an administration that has turned a hard heart to the suffering and persecution of Christians abroad, to the persecution and suffering of Jews abroad," Cruz said recently. Paul said, "No American tax dollars should go to any country that persecutes Christians."
Trump highlighted the plight of Christian refugees from Syria who are not receiving priority immigration status while attempting to flee from ISIS.
While the president has not focused on the persecution of Christians, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, founded under President Clinton in 1998, has. The Commission is independent and bi-partisan and monitors the religious freedom abroad. It issues regular reports on persecution worldwide, but has no official power.
According to Open Doors, which lobbies for the persecuted church, "From verbal harassment to hostile feelings, attitudes and actions, Christians in areas with severe religious restrictions pay a heavy price for their faith. Beatings, physical torture, confinement, isolation, rape, severe punishment, imprisonment, slavery, discrimination in education and employment, and even death are just a few examples of the persecution they experience on a daily basis."
Open Doors claims at least 322 Christians are martyred and 214 churches or Christian-owned properties are destroyed every month worldwide. Additionally, 772 beatings, abductions, rapes, arrests and forced marriages (to place a Christian in a non-believing family) occur in the same month.