Christianophobia refers to an irrational fear, hatred, or prejudice towards Christianity or Christians. This can manifest in various ways, such as discrimination, hostility, or violence towards Christians simply because of their faith. While not as widely discussed as other types of religious intolerance, Christianophobia remains a problematic issue across parts of the world today.
The Bible does not use the term “Christianophobia” directly, as it is a recently coined word. However, the Scriptures do address the concept of persecution and mistreatment targeting followers of Christ. Jesus himself warned that Christians would face hatred and opposition from the world:
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you…If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you… But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.” (John 15:18-21)
The apostles also experienced persecution for preaching the name of Jesus. The book of Acts records how the religious authorities imprisoned and beat the apostles, stoned Stephen to death, and King Herod killed James and arrested Peter (Acts 4-12). The apostle Paul underwent severe suffering for the sake of the gospel, including being beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, imprisoned, and ultimately killed under Nero’s persecution (2 Corinthians 11:23-33, Acts 28).
Paul told his protégé Timothy that “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). He catalogued some of the hardships he faced as a minister of Christ, but urged endurance and faithfulness:
“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed…” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9)
Peter also described the suffering Christians should expect: “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you” (1 Peter 4:12).
While the New Testament references focused on persecution of the early church, many followers of Christ still face mistreatment today in places where Christianity is a minority or banned religion. Open Doors estimates over 340 million Christians face high levels of persecution and discrimination worldwide for their faith.
Examples of Christianophobia in practice include:
– Violence and hate crimes targeting Christians, such as church bombings or mob attacks. The Islamic State group has brutally killed and attacked Christians in Iraq and Syria.
– Imprisonment and human rights abuses against Christians in countries like North Korea, Eritrea, Pakistan, and China. Christians may be arrested, tortured, or sent to labor camps.
– Government restrictions on religious freedom that single out Christianity, like banning public worship services, literature distribution, or converting from the state religion.
– Workplace and societal discrimination that makes it difficult for Christians to live out their faith or reach positions of influence.
– Derogatory stereotypes and hostile rhetoric towards Christians in media, entertainment, and public discourse.
– Vandalism and defacement of church buildings and Christian symbols.
– Blasphemy laws that only protect major religions like Islam, while providing no defense for insulting Christianity.
The Bible encourages believers to respond to mistreatment with love, mercy, and prayer for their persecutors. Jesus taught radical love for enemies:
“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” (Luke 6:27-28)
Christians are to follow Christ’s model of non-retaliation when facing unfair injuries:
“Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.” (1 Peter 3:9)
Paul says believers should even feed and give drink to their enemies, quoting Proverbs 25:21-22 (Romans 12:20). This display of grace can lead others to repentance.
The Bible encourages endurance through trials as an example of Christian testimony. Peter taught:
“But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.” (1 Peter 2:20-21)
Jesus pronounced a blessing on those persecuted for his sake (Matthew 5:10-12). Suffering deepens character, dependence on God, and future reward. Paul wrote that momentary afflictions produce an “eternal weight of glory” and make us fix our eyes on unseen, eternal realities (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).
The book of Revelation provides the most detail about end times persecution, prophesying intense pressure on believers to recant their faith:
“The dragon became furious with the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring—those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus.” (Revelation 12:17)
An Antichrist figure “was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them” (Revelation 13:7). But in the end, the people of God overcome by the blood of the Lamb, word of their testimony, and not loving their lives (Revelation 12:11). God will avenge their blood when Christ returns.
In summary, the Bible realistically portrays persecution as an ongoing reality for Christians, just as Jesus faced opposition. But it offers hope and perspective for enduring through divine grace. Scripture neither promotes hostility toward other faiths nor resorting to violence. Instead, Christians are instructed to love everyone, even enemies; glorify God through righteous conduct; and place ultimate hope in their reward in heaven.