Though a slight book, made even slighter by over a fourth of its pages taken up with appendices and endorsements by others, published by a little-known provincial press, In the Lion's Den is a major document in a growing movement. Shea, director of the Puebla Program, a division of Freedom House concerned with religious persecution, issues a clarion call for American Christians to wake up to the mistreatment of their many co-religionists abroad. "Christians are the chief victims of . . . religious persecution around the world today." Shea portrays the present era as a particularly dark one: "more Christians have died in this century simply for being Christian than in the first nineteen centuries after the birth of Christ."
Her focus on two specific opponents of Christians makes this book relevant to the Middle East: "it is anti-Christian persecution by communism and militant Islam that, because of their global sweep and virulence, poses the greatest threat." The documentation focuses on eleven countries, six of them Muslim: Nigeria, Sudan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, and Pakistan. Other countries noted include Algeria (the killing of priests), East Timor (invaded by Indonesia), and Kuwait (where a convert had to flee for his life). The text repeatedly distinguishes between the "historically tolerant Islamic faith" and "an increasingly radical and militant form of Islam" seeking political dominance.
Popular in tone and explicitly presented with an eye to motivating readers to take up this cause, Shea's volume has had an impact in Christian circles. When a prominent politician proposes that New York City not purchase goods from corporations doing significant business in countries where Christians are persecuted, a new American attitude toward fundamentalist Islam could be in the works.