In the last two years, Afghanistan has been at the center of global attention as the Taliban took over the country, plunging it into a state of violence and chaos. For a while the world looked on with full attention, watching in horror as the atrocities unfolded and praying with fervor for those hunted and persecuted, especially the Christians.
However, as lives get busy and new headlines emerge, it’s all too easy to forget what’s happening in other parts of the world. Once the stories are no longer central in the news or on social media we often forget that things are still happening. Many Western Christians now wonder whether the Taliban is still pursuing Christians in Afghanistan, and unfortunately, the answer is yes.
The Taliban’s Stance on Christianity
The Taliban’s interpretation of Islamic law, or Sharia, is deeply conservative and rigid. They do not tolerate religious minorities and respond with hatred and violence to Christianity. Twenty years ago, and again today, Christians’ freedom and safety are highly contested by Taliban rule in numerous ways.
- Religious Persecution: The Taliban has a history of religious persecution, targeting individuals and communities who do not adhere to their strict interpretation of Sunni Islam. They consider Christians to be apostates deserving of punishment and actively hunt them down. Gaining control of the country did not satisfy their need for violence and instead only increased their determination to end all other religions outside of Islam.
- Underground Churches: The situation for Christians in Afghanistan is dire. Forced to go underground, Afghan Christians continue to practice their faith in secret. To be discovered guarantees persecution, imprisonment, or even death. While believers still gather in secret, this puts them at immense risk should one or all of them be found out.
- Risk of Violence: The mere suspicion of being a Christian can lead to severe consequences, and the Taliban is constantly on the hunt for those who may belong to Christ. Any individuals found or suspected to be Christian have either been killed, imprisoned, or forced to flee.
- Conversion Danger: Afghans who convert to Christianity face extreme danger, as the act of leaving Islam is considered apostasy and is punishable by death under Taliban rule. This makes disciple-making both illegal and life-threatening for those attempting to bring the good news.
What Can Be Done?
While the situation for Christians in Afghanistan is still dire, there are ways that we can help:
- Pray: First and foremost Afghan Christians need your prayer. Pray for the safety, protection, and courage of those facing such intense persecution as well as for softened hearts of those who don’t yet know Christ.
- Give: GCM has established numerous safe houses over the last two years, relocating thousands of Christians to safety. There is still more to be done. Join us as a monthly partner to help support Afghan refugees, including those who are fleeing religious persecution. Learn more about these efforts here.
- Advocate: Share information about the persecution of Christians in Afghanistan with your sphere of influence to raise awareness about the continued need and invite others to join you by praying and giving.
As the world’s attention shifts, let us be those who continue to stand with the Afghan Christians. Their faith and resilience in the face of unimaginable challenges are a testament to the enduring power of Christ. As believers in the West there is so much for us to learn from our brothers and sisters in the East. We can also continue to make a difference through our prayers, support, and advocacy. By standing together, we can obey the commands of Hebrews 13:3, ensuring that Afghan Christians’ journey towards freedom and safety is not undertaken alone.