Under Caesar’s Sword is a three-year, collaborative global research project by a team of scholars to investigate how Christian communities respond when their religious freedom is severely violated. A public report with the findings of this project will be launched at the Public Symposium: What is to be Done? on April 20, 2017 in Washington, D.C.
Research for this project centered around three core questions:
How do Christian communities respond to repression?
Why do they choose the responses that they do?
What are the results of these responses?
The program is an effort to discover and draw attention to the ways in which Christian communities around the world respond to the severe violation of their religious freedom. These strategies vary widely, ranging from nonviolent protest movements of the kind that Pope John Paul II led in communist Poland, to the complex diplomacy of Christian churches in China, to simply fleeing from persecution en masse, as Christians have in Iraq. Further, the project aims to raise solidarity with persecuted Christians worldwide and to help them respond justly and effectively.
One of the major outcomes from this project is to better inform faith leaders, civil society groups, and governments of concrete actions that can be taken to support those who suffer persecution. These responses will be varied, but should provide observations for supporting any community suffering for their religious beliefs.
This series of blog posts draws from scholars' research, personal reflections, and responses to current situations of religious persecution.
By Kent Hill
How have Christians in Iraq and Syria responded to the persecution, conflict, and anarchy, and why have they chosen which response? Why one response is chosen over another is invariably a complicated and sometimes mysterious interplay between that which they can control and that which they cannot. At different times, different responses are called for.
By Mariz Tadros
It is customary for Copts – Egypt’s roughly 9 million strong Christian population– to celebrate Palm Sunday at church, waving palm fronds and singing joyful chants that go back to ancient times to commemorate Christ’s entry into Jerusalem, days before his crucifixion. They did not expect the service to be interrupted by bodies being ripped apart.
By Christian Van Gorder
As we approach the Easter holiday it is not only time to celebrate our faith but also to honor our sisters and brothers who risk so much to stand for their faith in many nations around the world. This past week when I read about Christian churches being attacked in Egypt I had to ask myself the same question that you might have asked yourself: Would I attend a church service if attending might cost me my life or the life of one of my children? This question is not a theoretical one in many places around the world and this should give all of us a deeper sense of perspective about how precious our faith really is for all of us.
By Fr. Robert Dowd
Through my own research on how Christians in northeastern Nigeria and coastal-northeastern Kenya have responded to attacks by Boko Haram and al-Shabaab respectively, it has become clear to me that religious freedom is not something that a state’s constitution can guarantee. As important as constitutional guarantees are, religious freedom will only be realized in reality if there is a culture of religious freedom. Such a culture is based on mutual respect and that is best realized through interaction and ongoing dialogue between members (and not just leaders) of different religious groups. A culture of religious freedom makes religious persecution practically unthinkable for most people.
By Daniel Philpott and Timothy Samuel Shah
Far less well understood is how Christians respond when their religious freedom has been severely violated. Under Caesar’s Sword is the world’s first global investigation of these responses and is undertaken on the premise that a systematic understanding of them can help those who live in relative freedom practice stronger and more effective solidarity with persecuted Christians and can help the often-isolated victims of persecution understand better what responses they might undertake.