One side has either had to kill off opponents or subdue them. The brutal conflict between Christians (the word as used here is a noun and not an adjective) and Muslims has been ongoing throughout history. The Crusaders committed many shameful acts and were not without guilt. However, it was the Muslim hoard that swarmed out of the Arabian Horn and into Europe that started the prolonged horrible conflict. In their aggression against Eastern Europe, the conquest of what is now Istanbul was a crowning victory. They assaulted the city three times. The first two times they took captive many children and grandchildren. The third time they returned, these youths had been forcefully converted to Islam and came as warriors who killed their parents and grandparents to win the victory. They established Istanbul as the center of the Ottoman Empire.
Had not the Ottoman forces been defeated in the Kahlenberg Mountain battle near Vienna, all of Europe would today be Muslim. (An interesting aside: The chef of the Austrian king wanted to do something different to celebrate the victory over the Turks. He baked a new pastry shaped like the crescent symbol of the Ottoman Empire and called it the croissant.)
Today Turkish Muslims are in general among the more peace-loving of all Muslims.
The conflict goes on, however. Muslims recently stormed a mall in Kenya, testing persons to determine if they were Muslim by requiring them to quote a certain well-known passage from the Koran. If they could not they were assumed to be Christians and were shot.
Nearly 100 Christian churches have been burned in Egypt since the revolution.
A suicide bomber attack on a historic church in Pakistan killed 85 and wounded hundreds more. Reports are that Christians among the wounded were the last to receive medical treatment.
In Syria, the bloody Assad regime has shown tolerance toward Christians. Rebel forces have slaughtered hundreds of Christians and burned many churches. Though there appear to be few good guys among the several groups fighting in Syria, our government in Washington is backing the rebel forces that are harshest on Christians.
In Africa, it is estimated that more than 500,000 Christians have been killed in this conflict. Yet, the Christian church is growing faster in Africa than on any other continent.
This is a horrible summary. Every day in more than 60 countries, 100 million Christians are suffering persecution, according to the Open Door publication World Watch. Persons adhering to one particular religious faith are the perpetrators. Our president remains strangely silent on this subject.
Fortunately, there are peace-loving Muslims. A number of them live in our area. The majority of American Muslims appear to be ambivalent about the conflict with the West. It is challenging to distinguish these two segments from more aggressive ones. Knowing this, the more aggressive ones often conceal themselves among the more innocent ones, often without the more peaceful ones knowing their commitment to aggression.
Opponents of our nation no longer wear red coats and march across open fields in a straight line. The most red that is seen is the blood of the martyrs.
The Rev. Dr. Nelson Price is pastor emeritus at Roswell Street Baptist Church.