By Peter Stanford 26 Sep 2013
Archbishop Justin Welby’s choice of the word “martyrs” to describe the 81 Pakistani Christians killed when their church in Peshawar was targeted by suicide bombers has raised eyebrows. It is the sort of language avoided nowadays in the secular, sceptical West, with its taken-for-granted religious freedoms, in case it makes people feel uncomfortable.
Yet in terms of Christian history the Archbishop of Canterbury’s description is surely accurate. These 81 worshippers at All Saints Anglican church, a 19th‑century colonial legacy in the Kohati Gate district of the city, died because they insisted last Sunday on practising their faith, as martyrs in all religions have done through the centuries.
In contrast to some of the more high-profile Christian martyrs, though, they were going about their religious practice quietly and without fuss, as befits a minority community of just 2.5 million (or 1.5 per cent) in a nation of 175 million that is overwhelmingly Muslim. They weren’t evangelising. They weren’t discussing missions to convert Muslims. And they weren’t falling foul of Pakistan’s strict blasphemy laws. They were simply, in the archbishop’s words, “testifying to their faith in Jesus Christ by going to church”......To Read More......