No matter what your religious beliefs are, the holiday season in America is a time for family, friends, and reflection. But for many people in other parts of the world, celebrating Christian holidays is actually a crime.
Open Doors USA explains that in some parts of the world, Christians experience more persecution during the holiday season than any other time of the year. For them, it is a time to celebrate the birth of Christ – but also a time to be aware of potential threats to their lives. They must be careful not to attract the attention of their government or Islamic terrorist groups, who target them for their faith.
What should be a joyful celebration is also a time of fear and danger for these believers, who risk their lives to practice their faith. There are many people in the Middle East who are arrested or even killed simply because of their religious beliefs.
The Open Doors USA report details the plight of Christians in countries like Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Iran. One Syrian mother said they have “special prayers” in church, but that they do not put up any decorations for fear of drawing the attention of Islamic extremists. Members of these radical groups have already threatened them with car bombs should they choose to practice Christianity outside the home.
In 2017, terrorists attacked a Methodist church in Pakistan, killing at least 11 people. Cairo residents remember the pain of a December 2016 church bombing. In 2015, the Somalian government made Christmas celebrations illegal to avoid increases in terrorist activity.
Christmas is also outlawed in Iran, where believers have to observe the holiday in secret. One family told of the Christmas days when they would decorate with non-Christmas decorations while they celebrated. If the police were to raid the home, they could say that they were merely having a birthday.
Sadly, this isn’t always enough. Many Christians are caught and punished for their faith.
Christianity is the most persecuted religion in the world. Millions of Christians live in a state of fear and danger – practicing their faith in secret to avoid the devastating consequences. With the rise in attacks on Christians worldwide, believers must also stand up to support those who are victims of persecution.