My colleagues and I at the Religious Freedom Institute have been studying Christian responses to persecution in 25 of the most challenging countries in the world. We are now working to put the findings from the Under Caesar’s Sword Project (produced together with scholar Dan Philpott at Notre Dame), including an outstanding documentary film by the same title, into the hands of church leaders. We hope this information will help them equip their people to understand and respond to persecution of Christians around the world.

 Fellow Christians

Despite mounting evidence demonstrating both the social benefits of religious freedom and the disastrous consequences of religious persecution, opinion leaders in the academy, the media and the corporate and policy worlds pay too little attention. Christians in the West often wonder what can be done to help fellow believers around the world who face persecution. A few educational resources can begin to help us understand the gravity of the crisis and how we might be more intentional in our response:

  • “Christians Confronting Persecution,” a six-week online course through Notre Dame’s Satellite Theological Education Program, brings together ministers, educators and other adults to confront the reality of persecution through the lens of faith. The course features lectures by outstanding religious freedom scholars including Tom Farr, Tim Shah (of Baylor University) and Daniel Philpott. STEP will offer the course starting this week at no cost to individuals.
  • “We Respond,” a seven-session study series, is available for high schools, parishes, churches and other contexts. The materials are free and ready for use and present reflection questions, stories and accessible research findings to allow your group to engage thoughtfully with Christians’ responses to persecution today.

These resources draw on the findings of the Under Caesar’s Sword Project about Christian communities’ creative, pragmatic responses to the persecution they face, incorporating videos, relevant Scripture passages and ideas for responses of solidarity.

We at the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor University, along with our colleagues at the Religious Freedom Institute, are seeking to provide specific ways for churches, Christian schools and individuals both to learn about the plight of Christians in harm’s way and to become aware of how they can help.

Byron R. Johnson is Distinguished Professor of Social Sciences at Baylor University and a senior adviser at the Religious Freedom Institute.