Responding to the bloody Easter terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka, Ross Douthat examines the way they have been discussed in the West, and what they say about the global situation of Christians, who—contrary to what much of American liberal opinion alleges—are not always the privileged majority:
Three Catholic churches were bombed, and with them three hotels catering to Western tourists, because often in the jihadist imagination Western Christianity and Western liberal individualism are the conjoined enemies of their longed-for religious utopia, their religious-totalitarian version of Islam. Tourists and missionaries, Coca-Cola and the Catholic Church—it’s all the same invading Christian enemy, different brand names for the same old crusade.
Officially, the Western world’s political and cultural elite does its best to undercut and push back against this narrative. . . . But if the equation of traditional Christianity with privilege has some relevance to the actual Euro-American situation, when applied globally it’s a gross category error. And so the main victims of Western liberalism’s peculiar relationship to its Christian heritage aren’t put-upon traditionalists in the West; they’re Christians like the murdered first communicants in Sri Lanka, or the jailed pastors in China, or the Coptic martyrs of North Africa, or any of the millions of non-Western Christians who live under constant threat of persecution.
One of the basic facts of contemporary religious history is that Christians around the world are persecuted on an extraordinary scale—by mobs and pogroms in India, jihadists and United States-allied governments in the Muslim world, secular totalitarians in China and North Korea. Yet as an era-defining reality rather than an episodic phenomenon, this reality is barely visible in the Western media, and rarely called by name and addressed head-on by Western governments and humanitarian institutions.