But when does the church remember those who gave their lives for the cause of Christ? Who recognizes them? In the 21st Century Christianity has averaged 160,000 Christian martyrs each year. We are just shy of the halfway mark of 2009 and already there have been over 176,000 Christians murdered just for being Christians.
We don’t see these deaths. In the
Religion, any religion, allied with the coercive power of government, is a dangerous thing, including the government-sanctioned atheism of most communist countries. Government neutrality toward religion, neither promoting it nor interfering with it, is the only way to make sure that not only are there few Christian martyrs, but few Hindu, Buddhist, or Islamic martyrs. (And by the way, a terrorist is not a martyr. A martyr is a victim of violence, not a perpetrator of it.) There is certainly a price to be paid for government neutrality. A person of faith employed by the government has to assume a neutral stance toward religion while functioning as an employee. If that means that they cannot proselytize while on the job, that is a small price to pay for the freedom to worship freely in their churches, synagogues, mosques, and in their homes.
I have nothing but admiration for those Christians who worship Christ in the face of persecution, knowing that to do so might cost them their jobs, their freedom, even their lives. As we remember those who gave their lives for our country, let us also remember those who, for the cause of Christ, also gave “the last full measure of devotion.”