Christians are under persecution worldwide and face discrimination in the West that could turn in to more violent opposition, according to the author of a new book on martyrdom.
“For 2000 years, Christians have, lost their lives just because of their faith. And, you know, I thought it was time to reintroduce a new generation to these stories,” Rev. Johnnie Moore, an author and Evangelical leader who was a spiritual advisor to former President Donald Trump, told Fox News Digital.
Moore spent seven years with his co-author, Jerry Pattengale, selecting and researching centuries’ worth of stories of those who stood up for their faith in the face of ridicule, death and torture.
“The New Book of Christian Martyrs,” a 600-page book to be released Tuesday from Tyndale House Publishers, aims to be an encouragement to Christians, but Moore also sees it as a warning to prepare for discrimination and persecution.
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Martyrs are “willing to die for a Christianity that we’re barely willing to live for…. Sometimes we decide to be quiet about our faith, because it’s controversial to be a Christian or our views aren’t accepted sometimes in mainstream culture,” Moore said.
The book is advertised as an update to the 16th-century Protestant work known as Foxe’s book of martyrs. Initially published as “Acts and monuments” in 1563, John Foxe’s book was updated and revised in numerous volumes and became a standard text that many Protestants treasured along with the Bible.
Foxe’s book is a deeply anti-Catholic work, showing Protestants as the innocent victims of Roman Catholic oppression, claiming that countries where “popery predominates” are filled with “ignorant and debased peasantry, a profligate nobility, and a priesthood, licentious, avaricious, domineering and cruel.”
But Moore and Pattengale took a somewhat different approach in their update, based on observations that when Islamic terrorists attack Christian churches in the modern day, “they don’t look for the Catholics or the Protestants or the evangelicals or the Baptist or any of these things. They just look for the cross,” said Moore.
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“Foxe’s book of martyrs was a Protestant text, an anti-Catholic Protestant text, and at a time of the Reformation, everybody understands why that was the case. You know, Catholics were killing these reformers, and in certain cases, vice versa,” Moore told Fox News Digital.
The new book’s section on the Reformation period mostly includes stories of Protestants who died for their faith rather than Catholics. It leaves out many honored as Catholic saints who were killed in England in the decades and century following the bloody persecutions under the Catholic Queen Mary.
But in other periods of history covered in the book, the stories of Catholic and non-Catholic martyrs are intermixed.
“What we did is we integrated stories of Catholics and Orthodox Christians who had also died for their faith through the centuries,” Moore said.
The authors likewise sought to represent “both the bad and the good acts carried out in Christ’s name” through the era of colonialism, focusing the praise on those who “fought for the indigenous peoples and saw them rightly as precious to God.”
Such witnesses to Christianity during colonialism, though some were not technically martyrs, include Fr. Peter Claver — a priest who declared himself “the slave of the slaves forever” and ministered to captured Africans forced into hard labor in Columbia — and Antonio de Valdivieso, bishop of Nicaragua, who was stabbed by the son of the local governor for standing up to the European colonial powers.
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Many names in the book are familiar; like Dietrich Bonhoeffer who was imprisoned and executed by Nazis, and Justin Martyr who was beheaded in 166 AD. Others are less well known: Julian of Anazarbus, a high-born Roman who was sewn into a sack filled with snakes and thrown in the ocean around 305 AD: and Cheryl Beckett, who was shot by the Taliban while on a mission in northern Afghanistan in 2010.
A large portion of the book deals with Christians killed in recent decades.
“There have been more martyrs in the last century than the previous 19 centuries combined,” Moore said.
Many stories deal with those slaughtered at the hands of Islamic extremists like ISIS and the Taliban in the Middle East, and Boko Haram in Africa.
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But the main culprit for Christian persecution is not from terrorists aligned with Islam.
“The top violation of religious freedom and the supreme persecutors and prisoners and murderers of Christians and other religious communities are communist, not Islamic terrorist,” Moore said.
Moore served on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom for several years and was sanctioned by China for his work in 2021.
Some political commentators have dismissed the idea that American Christians are, or are on the verge of being, persecuted — calling it a victim complex that the religious right uses for political power. Others warn of the mistake to believe that since Christians are told they will be persecuted, they seek to find how they are mistreated in order to feel they are truly Christians.
But Moore sees worrying signs in America and the West on the basis of his work with those facing risk of death for their beliefs overseas.
“I don’t want to draw a parallel because it dishonors the memory of those who are facing those circumstances,” Moore said. “However, as I’ve traveled all around the world, met with persecuted Christians in the most difficult places… they always say ‘it didn’t begin like this. Here it began with our community being squeezed and marginalized and discriminated against in our workplaces. It began with our Children being treated differently in schools.'”
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“Though there’s no parallel in the consequences, there is similarity,” he said. “The consequences are drastically different. There’s no parallel there, but there is a worrisome parallel in the question When someone in authority points their finger in your face with the power of government or some other power… and they say, ‘change what you believe or else,’ that’s a reason for alarm.”