Christian persecution, hostility experienced from the world as a result of one’s identification as a Christian, includes everything from verbal harassment to outright violence. In many areas of the world, Christians pay a heavy price for practicing their faith. Over 75% of the people in the World live in areas with “severe religious restrictions” (according to The Pew Research Center). The U.S. Department of State identified over 60 countries where Christians face persecution from their government and society simply because of their religious identification.
Christians are beaten, tortured, confined and imprisoned; subjected to discrimination in employment and education; suffer in slavery, and are even killed on a daily basis. According to Open Doors, USA, each month:
- 322 are killed for their faith.
- 214 Christian properties and churches are destroyed.
- 772 acts of violence (rapes, abductions, beatings, forced marriages, arrests, etc.) are committed against Christians.
Freedom of religion helps define us and serves as a foundation for our contribution to society. If one lives in a country whose government restricts or abuses freedom of religion, they are denied a basic human right and suffering results. Christian persecution occurs for many reasons. The three primary ones are:
- Authoritarian governments seek to control all religious thought and expression and consider members of many religious groups a threat as their beliefs do not put loyalty to the state and its rulers of primary importance. An example is North Korea.
- Majority populations persecute minority and nontraditional religious groups. For example, Islamic majority countries often persecute Christians and other minority religious groups.
- Some countries lack basic human rights in many societal areas, including religion, causing persecution and the need for citizens to flee the country. The African country, Eritrea, lacks basic human rights and, according to Human Rights Watch, has a human rights record considered among the worst in the world.
The Frequency of Religious Persecution of Christians
Christian persecution continues its alarming increase. Many have called Christianity “the most persecuted religion in the world.” Christianity is even facing extinction in its Biblical homeland as between half and two-thirds of Christians in the Middle East have been killed or left the area over the last one hundred years.
One of the first steps in decreasing the incidences of Christian persecution is becoming aware of its prevalence.
- JoshuaCord, a religious persecution watch group, bringing awareness to some 215 million Christians around the world facing some degree of persecution.
- Christian persecution by nationalist Buddhist, Hindu, and Muslim religious movements, has increased in Pakistan, India, and Myanmar.
- Approximately 39 million Christians – more than have of the 64 million Christians in India, have experienced direct persecution, according to a study by Open Doors.
- Incidents of Christian persecution are on the rise in Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations, in addition to Syria and Iraq, where ISIS targets Christians.
- Despite the facts that Christianity is the most practiced religion, North, Central, and South America have also seen increased Christian persecution, with Christian leaders in Mexico and Colombia killed specifically because of their faith. Mexico, with more than 80% of their population Catholic, has had several priests attacked and killed in the last few years.
Without government intervention, a responsive media willing to report on and condemn Christian persecution, and individual awareness and active resistance to occurrences of Christian persecution, the suffering of Christians around the world will only increase. Once one knows how serious the problem of Christian persecution has become, it is impossible to remain passive to this growing problem. One should actively explore ways to alleviate the suffering of Christians.