“… Christians’ perceptions of global religious persecution against Christians impacted the ways they understand Christianity as a global faith? ”
This project aims to understand how it is that many American Christians have come to accept phrases like “Christian genocide” or “the global war on Christians” as accurate descriptions of the dynamics facing Christians worldwide. In doing so, this project will provide the first historical analysis of the claim that there is a contemporary global war on Christians. It will accomplish this objective by giving a genealogy of early Christian ideas about martyrdom and persecution and how these have developed over Christianity’s 2,000-year history. It pays particular attention to the ways in which these ideas underwent significant shifts over the course of the twentieth century, during which time martyrdom and religious persecution contributed to the formation of a more ecumenical definition of Christianity. The project combines this historical analysis with innovative digital research tools that examine the roles that social media content and networks have played in generating and distributing content, ideas, and evidence pertaining to contemporary global Christian persecution. These processes have created a globalized, ecumenical understanding of Christianity through the rubric of religious persecution, and I wish to reflect upon the implications of this way of conceptualizing Christianity as a global religion.