This book, organized into three parts, spotlights the global religious, severe persecution of Christians outside North America and Western Europe. The author writes for a Catholic publication and so this book has a strong Catholic flavor. Omitting footnotes because they would be "too cumbersome," he acknowledges that while 80 percent of persecution is directed at Christians, other religious minorities also suffer persecution for their beliefs. The first part of the book outlines the countries of persecution, the second part of the book outlines myths we often buy into about religious persecution. His last part of the book focuses on predictions on future trends as relating to persecution and what our response should look like. Also not overlooked are the instances when professing Christians have actually persecuted other Christians, abortion rights advocates, and homosexuals.
This book is not easy or fun reading. It a call to action. I found it uncomfortable and painful as Allen reminds the reader that we Christians have been guilty of persecuting, even if "Christian extremists" have not committed crimes as horrific as other extremists. As I have been well-informed about religious persecution of the world's Christians for years, I found little in the book that was news to me. What was news to me, and probably should not be, was that some persecution in certain instances have been of Christians persecuting other Christians. I fear that this is why people may not want to see Christians as victims but rather as victimizers. I get frustrated when religious persecution gets seen as a wedge issue and co-opted by the "religious right" and seen as a political issue as Allen points out. I understand why the author left out footnotes but without sources cited except in generalities, I feel uncomfortable giving this book five stars. I give it four and a half stars because it's so packed with info from what I know to be reliable sources.
I recommend this book for all adults age 18 and over. Every Christian ought to read this book and it can be ordered free of charge to you if you will, in exchange, give an honest review (if you blog). I will link to the site below where, if you blog, you can get this book for free. This book will give you all the tools you need to educate yourself and act on behalf of the persecuted. Non-Christians should read this as a matter of human decency. You need not be a Christian to advocate for Christians and other oppressed religious minorities.
I received this book free of charge from Blogging For Books in exchange for an honest review.
When I first received my copy of "The Global War On Christians: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Anti-Christian Persecution" by John L. Allen Jr. to review I was really excited. I wanted to learn about the persecution issues that other Christians in other parts of the world were facing and relatedly, about the socio-political climates that create or foster those conditions. I have been disappointed to find this book not as helpful I hoped.
In all honesty, this has proven the hardest book for me to review both because of the substance of the book and logistically. Numerous extraordinary personal circumstances have kept this book at the top of my TBR pile but just out of reach of completion for many weeks past when this review was due.
The book is laid out in three sections:
~Anti-Christian Persecution Around the World
~Myths About the Global War on Christians
~Fallout, Consequences, and Response
After a brief overview, part one launches into a region by region, country by country discourse on conflicts in the given area. Regions covered are Africa, Asia, Latin America, The Middle East, and Eastern Europe. I was first excited by this section of the book. The Introduction and the Overview are filled with the type of content that I hoped to find- informational, well thought our and reasoned and impassioned- even if I didn't agree with all the arguments made. But here is also where I felt the book start to fall apart.
As the author begins to relate accounts of persecution and martyrdom I began to notice the distinct lack of footnotes documenting the source of the stories. A quick perusal of the rest of the book and I soon realized that there wasn't any bibliography for this book. Imagine my surprise then that as I continued to read the author of this book actually addresses the lack of footnotes and basically says that to document all the sources for every account he cites would be "unwieldy" and recommends the reader use an "internet search engine" to find everything he talks about! In a non-fiction book, especially one where the author is lauded as "the Vatican correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter and a Vatican analyst for CNBN and National Public Radio" as well as being an Associate Editor of The Boston Globe this is unforgivable and simply shows the willful lack of credible reporting! An academic type non-fiction book without footnotes is simply a book of fiction and opinion.
As I moved into what I anticipated to be the meat of the book in the region/country breakdown chapters another thing that became very evident from this point on was that the author was relating stories that were 95% about members of the Catholic church and 5% about Christians from other faith traditions. When selecting this book I knew going in that the author was a Catholic- but with this being a more mainstream publisher not a Catholic one I expected there to be a balance in the material that he related. I was not expecting a book that read like a church periodical, unfortunately that is just what it feels like.
In addition, I was really frustrated that the majority of the 'info' given on each country was not explaining the socio-political climate but relating the individual stories of the Catholic lay people on the scene. I really didn't learn anything about the area itself or about what Christians face in a particular country, I just heard basic accounts about individual people. As wide spread as persecution is I think it would have been better to relate one powerful story and use it to illustrate what happens, or how and why this is typical of the country instead of overwhelming and (dare I say it?) boring the reader droning on and on with nothing more than news clippings that could be found on the internet.
In all honesty after a certain point I did give up on completing this book. In all my reviews I've never done that, and in all the reading I've ever done I could count on one hand the books that I've 'quit' on but try after try there was just nothing that engaged or attached me to this book. Nothing stirred me to better understanding or to action on my Christian brother and sister's behalf- and in a book that is meant to do just that that is what I perhaps find the most disappointing....
The issue, the war on Christians and Christianity is real. It is real and it is powerfully evil but today on some level we all have just tuned out to the realities of this fact. This issue, this war, deserves- and should demand- our attentions. In reading this book the reader should not feel further disconnected and discouraged; they should feel enlivened and ready to help wherever they can. The sad reality of this book is that however much I read about individuals the author never introduced me to and made me care about the people and has instead effectively raised another barrier to the readers dismissal of the issue due to the way the material was presented in this book.
Final Rating: 1.5
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review and opinion of the product.
The book is a veritable encyclopedia of information on the persecution of Christians. Chapters 2 through 6 detail the persecution in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe. These stories are enough to make you cringe. The repetition of abuse and violence detailed in the book is enough to make you want to skip pages because it's more of the same. More of the same harassment, torture, and execution of Christians.
No rose colored glasses here. Allen isn't trying to start a political war between conservatives and liberals, or even religions. He is well aware that politicians of many persuasions have tried to take up the fight, but too often the situation is too religious for liberals and too foreign for conservatives. At the same time the author notes that this persecution is sometimes Christians attacking other Christians. In Ireland the fight rages on between Catholics and Protestants. In Africa, groups claiming to be Christian are attacking other Christians.
Allen covers many of the myths regarding persecution. The Minority Myth says that persecution only happens where Christians are a minority. This isn't true, but even if it were, Allen shows that if you add up the population of Christians from different countries where they are a minority it totals over 200 million people. That's a lot of people at risk. It's a myth that persecution is all about Islam. It's a myth that motives are always religious. It's a myth that it's a political issue. Persecution is real and happens for many different reasons and in many different places.
While the book is not theological the author is Catholic and so some of the theological statements are based on a purely Roman Catholic view of the Church. While there are parts of Roman Catholic theology that I disagree with this actually goes to the author's point. He says that aiding those facing persecution shouldn't take second place to our theological differences. In other words, all Christians of every denomination can come together to aid those in danger without agreeing theologically. We all agree that life is sacred and we need to help those who are in trouble.
The Wrap Up
This is a difficult book to review because it's a facts and figures kind of book. In part one we get an overview of persecution around the world. In part two we learn about the myths related to persecution. In part three the author gives us some perspective on the potential fallout, what can be done and even the possible positives of persecution.
Is persecution ever positive? No, it's not and the Allen's point with the book is to show that persecution is leading to the deaths of millions. However, even as we see in the Book of Acts, the Church thrives under persecution. Which makes you wonder if the American Church wouldn't be better off if it faced some of the persecution that the rest of the world faces. We might stop worrying about bands and buildings and start putting more effort into spreading the Gospel.
If you are unaware of Christian persecution, or believe that it's a myth, you need to read this book.
- See more at: http://cliffymania.com/blog/2014/03/the-global-war-on-christians-by-john-allen
The content in "The Global War on Christians" is important for Christians in the Western world to have access to. It's well-written and well-researched, but for me it was a little dry. When it comes to this topic, I think less data and more biography is helpful to connect to the general audience. I do recommend this book, but only if you're a data person. Admittedly, I couldn't get very far into it and I'm still working on it. It was just hard for me to get plugged into it.
Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.
I love reading books about Christianity and when I got the chance to read The Global War on Christians by John Allen, Jr. I was weaved into a different world. The Global War on Christians is blunt and to the point. John Allen Jr doesn't sugar coat the truth. There is a global war on Christians and this book brings it all in perspective.
After reading this book, I came away with a new perspective and a sense of utter shock. If you are a Christian The Global War on Christians is a must read. If your a non-Christian this is a book you have to read to understand the world of Christian persecution.
John Allen Jr has done a wonderful job of bringing this touchy and difficult subject to light.