FORTY PERCENT of US Catholics believe that Christian persecution around the world is “severe.” Four-in-ten Catholics say that half or more of religiously-based attacks around the world are directed at Christians
However, US Catholics say they are less concerned about Christian persecution than about human trafficking, poverty, climate change, and the global refugee crisis.
A nationwide poll examining the views on global Christian persecution on US Catholics was conducted by Aid to the Church in Need-USA/McLaughlin & Associates. The survey aimed to measure:
- The extent to which American Catholics are aware of Christian persecution around the world;
- The countries and regions where they consider Christians to most severely persecuted;
- Specific measures and policies they want the US and other Western governments to pursue;
- The extent to which they feel that the Pope, their bishops and their parishes are making the issue of Christian persecution a priority;
- Actions they believe they can and should take themselves;
When ranking the severity of Christian persecution in 14 countries, US Catholics ranked in the top five countries where they believe Christian persecution is “extremely severe” in the following order: North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Pakistan.
In terms of possible US and other Western government policies to deter Christian persecution, US Catholics say diplomatic pressure is most important, followed by economic sanctions, granting victims of persecution emergency asylum, supporting persecuted Christian communities financially, and military intervention
When asked what they themselves should do to help persecuted Christians around the world, American Catholics ranked prayer highest, followed by raising awareness at the parish level, donating to agencies that work to support persecuted Christians, and contacting their Members of Congress. However, almost half of US Catholics have not donated in the past year to an organization that comes to the aid of persecuted Christians
A significant number of US Catholics is unsure about the engagement level of the Catholic Church on the issue of Christian persecution. Almost half of US Catholics say that Pope Francis is “very engaged” on the issue, while only 27% say that of their local bishop is very engaged, and 24% believe that their parish is very involved with the issue.
“What the survey reveals quite clearly,” said George Marlin, chairman of Aid to the Church in Need-USA (ACNUSA), “is that there is a need to increase the engagement level of the US Catholic Church when it comes to global Christian persecution—both at the grassroots and leadership levels. The issue has to become a priority.”
“What we hope our poll will do is show the bishops and their priests that the laity need more education and leadership to give them a stronger sense of the seriousness and pervasiveness of Christian persecution around the world. We have an obligation to raise our voice and stand up for persecuted Christians,” Marlin concluded.