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Christ and Khashoggi

By Ross Reitz

When the journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered, the journalistic world was outraged, but the Christian community was largely silent. All evidence points to Khashoggi’s death being orchestrated by the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia; yet our government executives have refused to hold anyone accountable for the murder of someone who spoke out for truth and freedom. Instead, we have said that we have a major business deal on the line and that it is not in our national interest to address why an innocent man was murdered.

It strikes me as odd that Christians would be quiet about this case. For those of us who believe the Bible is true, we believe that the religious leaders of Jesus’ time did the same thing. John 11:46-50 records that even though the religious leaders knew that Jesus was innocent, they would turn Him over to be crucified so that the Roman government would not take away their nation and place of worship.

First, I find it interesting that we believe that justice and national security cannot co-exist. What does it say about our faith that we believe God can’t protect our nation, or even our economy, so we have to let innocent people be killed to keep our revenue?

Second, Jesus clearly stated, “Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me” (Matthew 25: 45). If the Christians in our state department and our churches are treating Jamal Khashoggi the same way the religious and governmental leaders treated Jesus, is there any evidence that we are followers of Christ?

Every year persecution against Christians grows. Open Doors, an organization that ministers to persecuted Christians, has identified nationalism as the reason for the sudden sharp increase in imprisonment, rape and murder of Christians. Nationalism seeks to make a country think only about itself. However, as a country turns inward, it starts to punish or exterminate anyone who is not like the majority. Therefore, while Christians in India used to be treated well, a new nationalistic India doesn’t want a religion that disagrees with how most people in the country worship. So, now, Indian Christians face being burned in their churches. During Carter’s administration, China allowed some Bibles to be printed and some evangelical churches to freely preach Jesus as long as they didn’t discuss politics. Now, Jesus is a threat to the worship of the Communist Party, and persecution is sharply rising. Even in Russia, where the state religion is Christianity, the state church is set up to strengthen the power of the president. For the first time since the collapse of the USSR, Russia is now again among the top 50 persecutors of Christians.

So, how has America responded? As American Christians also become more nationalistic and support an “America First” policy, we have supported the persecution of Christians worldwide. America can get richer if we make trade deals with countries who kill, rape and imprison Christians — as long as we support the right of these countries to control their citizens any way they want. While certain individuals speak loudly about working to protect Christians, our record has shown that as long as money is coming into the country, we currently have little actual policy or force to protect innocent people who are being killed.

Biblical teaching stresses the equality and rights of all, regardless of national origin: “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28; Colossians 3:11); yet somehow we are willing to allow religious persecution to skyrocket to its highest level in decades and remain willing to be silent.

 

Ross Reitz has been a Suffolk resident since 2009. Prior to that, he taught the Bible in Africa for two years and spent six years as a teacher at a Christian school in Philadelphia, Pa.