So here’s the scenario.
A teacher in Italy taught her class of 13-year olds all about the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL). At the end of the project she asked her 25 students what they would do if the Islamic State took over their town. All but two reportedly said they would convert to Islam.
It’s somewhat tragic that a mix of classroom education and possibly some media exposure to ISIS barbarism would suck the bravado out of all the kids, other than two die-hard Catholics. But that’s the effect of the threats and actions of ISIS.
In every generation, there are the brave few who stand up to fight against one evil scourge or another, despite the likely great personal sacrifice.
In the Massacre of Verden in 782, Charlemagne is said to have killed 4,500 captive Saxons who rebelled against forced conversion to Roman Catholicism.
Legend has it that the Souliot women in the village of Zalongo in 1803 in Epirus danced and sang as they killed their own babies before committing suicide rather than facing capture by Ottoman-Albanian ruler Ali Pasha and all that would have followed.
In our own generation, Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho, the deceased leader of the Chaldean Catholic church in northern Iraq, said:
“We, Christians of Mesopotamia, are used to religious persecution and pressures by those in power. After Constantine, persecution ended only for Western Christians, whereas in the East, threats continued. Even today we continue to be a church of martyrs.”
But these, likely, are the minority. It’s why they are idolized in popular culture, looked up to for having the gumption to do what most of us could never actually carry out.
Should ISIS come to your town, install a caliphate, impose strict sharia law, implement severe punishments and tell you anyone failing to convert to Islam would be executed, what would you do?
Would you stand up and be counted? Would you put your life on the line to fight the curse that is Islamist extremism? This is already a dilemma facing the brave Yazidi and Christian souls in the Middle East, as you can see in our soon-to-be-released movie Faithkeepers.
There are many ways you can act today to try to prevent the spread of these ideas, to try to help insure martyrs such as Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho are among the last to die for standing up to ISIS.