Churches around the world offered prayers of intercession on Nov. 4 for persecuted Christians worldwide, in what organizers claimed was the "largest prayer day event of its kind."
According to the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church's Web site (www.persecutedchurch.org), 300,000 churches were expected to participate.
In 2000, an estimated 100,000 U.S. congregations and Christians in 130 nations prayed on behalf of the persecuted church.
"As a human rights issue, the persecution of Christians dwarfs all other forms of religious injustice," said a Web site article.
Persecutedchurch.org defined persecution as "the realities of massacre, rape, torture, mutilation, family division, harassment, imprisonment, slavery, discrimination in education and employment, and even death."
During the past decade, some American Christians claimed society was "overtly hostile" to their views. They accused those opposed to their culture agenda of "anti-religious, anti-evangelical bigotry." A Southern Baptist Convention leader even referred to "the drizzle of persecution in the U.S."
But persecutedchurch.org refused to include such self-perception as authentic persecution. Limits on the "full expression" of faith or "times when Christians are marginalized" were seen as serious "incidents," but not as persecution.
"We must be careful not to equate them with the horrors facing Christians in other lands who suffer arrest, torture, imprisonment, enslavement, and death because of their faith," said persecutedchurch.org. "We must be careful not to minimize the persecution of other fellow Christians around the world."
Robert Parham is BCE's executive director.