It is estimated that about one-third of the globe’s population suffers from religious persecution. By the numbers, Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world.
An Italian study calculates that in 2016, a Christian was killed for his or her faith every six minutes. The trend is accelerating. A 2016 Pew Research report found that Christians were targeted in 144 countries, up from 125 in 2015. The Christian persecution NGO Open Doors revealed in its 2019 Watch List Report that within five years the number of countries classified as demonstrating “extreme” persecution went from one (North Korea) to 11. According to the Center for Studies on New Religions (CESNUR), 70 per cent of them were victims of tribal conflict in Africa alone.
The CESNUR study’s findings have been fleshed out in far greater depth by the Interim Report of an Independent Review into the global persecution of Christians by the Bishop of Truro, the Rt. Rev. Philip Mounstephen, conducted at the behest of Jeremy Hunt, Britain’s Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, and delivered at the end of April. A final report will be delivered in June, but the scope and nature of the problem is amply distilled herein.
The research does not cover Christians’ plight in Europe or Eurasia, but it does drill down into many other regions: the primary hot spot of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), as well as in India, China, North Korea, Latin America, Indonesia and Malaysia. It covers all forms of discrimination and persecution, from relatively minor forms such as refused permission for church construction or burial rights, or limited access to education and employment, to more aggressive forms — church vandalism, anti-Christian bigotry in school textbooks, harassment on state-sponsored media (escalating in Iran, Iraq and Turkey, where the governing AK Party depicts Christians as a “threat to the stability of the nation”), and imprisonment of clerics — all the way up to church bombings, pogroms and genocide. Christians with a Muslim background are particularly susceptible to persecution or even execution.
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