Shortt makes a very good point regarding the title of his book, which, technically, would refer to fear of Christianity. “I am aware that ‘Christianophobia,’ like ‘Islamophobia,' is an elastic term, perhaps implying a passive attitude, unlike the more active ‘anti-Semitism’; and that prejudice should be distinguished from more overt forms of ill will manifested in state ideology or various sorts of behavior,” he observes. “However, neither ‘anti-Muslimism’ nor ‘anti-Christianism’ has caught on, so Christianophobia seems to me a valid term.”
So, why are Christians discriminated against and even persecuted? Reasons are varied, and Shortt strives, with a good deal of success, to provide context. In Vietnam, China, and North Korea, all of which are totalitarian and have been Communist to varying degrees, the regimes fear alternative sources of authority, as well as some Christians’ association with the West.
This has also historically applied to Myanmar – which Shortt refers to by the older name of Burma – though the situation is changing there. It remains the case in Turkey, where the mere presence of missionaries sends security services into a tizzy. Myanmar, Indonesia, Turkey, and Vietnam are countries where Christians are often also ethnically distinct from the majority population, thereby highlighting differences.
Relying on the work of Eliza Griswold, Shortt explains that in central Nigeria, an economic conflict was exacerbated by the differing ethno-religious identities of two groups competing for resources, though in the heavily Muslim north, where several states have applied Sharia, the friction is more inherently religious.