Christian Growth and Persecution

A short editorial in The Economist on the subject.  Here’s a bit that I found somewhat perplexing:

Compared both with the wars of religion that once tore Christendom apart and with various modern intra-faith struggles, such as those within Islam, little blood is being spilt. But the brutality matters. Even if Western powers no longer see promoting Christianity’s interests as a geopolitical priority, it is hard to imagine American evangelicals ignoring a full-scale clampdown on house churches in China. And whatever their own beliefs, Western voters have other reasons to worry about the fate of Christians. Regimes or societies that persecute Christians tend to oppress other minorities too. Sunni Muslims who demonise Christians loathe Shias. Once religion is involved, any conflict becomes harder to solve.

This makes it sound as if under ordinary circumstances, “Western voters” would not care very much about Christian persecution, but they ought to care for instrumental reasons — because Christian persecution often goes hand in hand with religious persecution of other groups.  Why would “Western voters” care more about the persecution of “other minorities” than persecution of Christians?  I should think that “Western voters” would be concerned about religious persecution irrespective of the group being persecuted — not for any ulterior motive but because religious persecution is an evil.  Indeed, one might even think that “Western voters” might care very much about persecution of Christians in particular — even if the “Western voters” that the editorial is talking about are not, or are no longer, Christians.  Western culture — in its laws, in its ethics, and in countless other ways — is heavily indebted to Christianity.  Why shouldn’t the persecution of Christians be of special concern to “Western voters”?  And what does it mean to say that “any” conflict becomes harder to “solve” once religion is involved?  Conflicts can be intractable for any number of reasons, many of which have little or nothing to do with religion.  Whether a conflict involving religion is harder to “solve” than “any” other conflict will depend on the particular conflict that we are talking about, won’t it?

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