The worldwide persecution of Christians is increasing and 70 percent of the world’s population now lives in a religiously intolerant environment. This is despite the UN Declaration of Human Rights:
“Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”
[ Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and Article 9(1) of the European Convention on Human Rights ]
HERE ARE A FEW FACTS
- Christians are now the world’s most persecuted religious group [BBC News]
- The so-called Islamic State in Nigeria beheads Christian hostages [BBC News]
- Over 360 million Christians worldwide experience high levels of persecution [Open Doors]
- 1 out of 3 Christians in Asia experience high levels of persecution [Open Doors]
- More Christians were martyred in the 20th century than in all other centuries combined [Christianity.com]
- Worldwide, an average of 14 Christians are killed every day for their faith [Open Doors]
- About 10,000 churches/Christian buildings are attacked each year [Open Doors]
- In 1993, Christians faced high to extreme levels of persecution in 40 countries. This rose to 76 countries in 2023 [Open Doors]
- Persecution is even happening in the UK: some banks are closing the accounts of Christians or Christian organizations with different ethical views to the bank! [Christian Concern, UK]
North Korea, Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, Pakistan, Eritrea
SEE PERSECUTION MAP and the WORLD WATCH LIST
A Few Persecution Examples
- Nigeria: In 2010 Christians suffered terror from Muslim extremists. Whole village massacred
- Iran: Its parliament believes Muslims who change their faith should be put to death
- India: up to 70,000 in Orissa have been forced to flee their homes in riots against Christians
- Indonesia: Between 2000-2002 Muslims slaughtered 10,000 Christians. In 2018, Islamist suicide bombers detonated explosives at three Christian churches
- Iraq: half of Iraq’s Christians have fled the country since the fall of Saddam Hussein
- Egypt: Under Islamist pressure, Coptic Christians are being forced from their homes
- Syria: By 2012, most of the 80,000 Christians in Homs had been ‘cleansed’ from their homes
- China: Chinese Christians are being detained at secretive “brainwashing camps”
- Mozambique: In 2020, ISIS systematically decapitated some 50 innocent people — many of them Catholics
Please click Release International to support the persecuted church
It is estimated that approximately 90% of all world violence
has Islam on one side or the other [The Martyrs’ Cry]
Persecution of Christians in the Past
In its ultimate form, persecution results in martyrdom. A martyr is one who, without seeking their own death or any harm to others, is murdered or put to death for their religious faith. The word ‘martyr’ comes from the Greek word translated “witness”. Such extreme witness is always positive in that it leads to church growth:
We multiply whenever we are mown down by you; the blood of Christians is seed [Tertullian, theologian in the early Christian church]
All faiths have martyrs: the World Christian Encyclopaedia (2001) estimates that there have been some 80M Muslim martyrs, 70M Christian martyrs and 30M Hindu martyrs since the start of these faiths. The first Christian martyr was Stephen. Looking back at Christian martyrdom:
- Most of the apostles (Philip, Matthew, Mark, Peter, Paul …) were martyred
- Many were martyred in the Middle Ages (Huss, Jerome, Joan of Arc …)
- Between 1540 and 1570 some one million Protestants were publicly put to death in various countries in Europe
- Overall, some 50 million were martyred by the Roman Catholic Inquisition for ‘heresy’ between 606 AD and the middle of the 19th century
- Protestant reformers (More, Tyndale, Latimer, Cranmer …) were martyred
- Some 20 million were martyred during the 70 years of Russian atheism and communism
Roman Catholic Persecution of Christians
The Inquisition was a medieval church court instituted to seek out and prosecute heretics
See The Papal Inquisition (Warning: this video contains scenes of torture)
For more information on past persecutions, see Christian martyrs
Persecution of Christians Today
Today we have the noble declaration of human rights enshrined in Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance
Sadly, Article 18 is violated every day [World Watch Monitor].
Despite Article 18, there are severe human rights violations in many countries, especially in the so-called 10-40 window. Christians are persecuted across Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, most of Asia (including India and China). North Korea is consistently the most dangerous place for Christians. Iran is also one of the world’s most repressive states, and those who offend Sharia law may be publicly flogged or even executed by hanging in the streets.
Each year over 200 million Christians around the world were in danger of being tortured, persecuted, or killed for their faith, link.
Release International – International Christian Concern
Barnabasfund – Open Doors
Islam has used crucifixion as a form of punishment since medieval times. According to the Quran, resisting Islam is met by death, crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet (Surah 5:33). Today, the media is largely silent and politically correct on such barbaric activities, but it cannot hide the fact that it is happening in the 21st century under political Islam.
It is claimed that Islamic extremists have publicly crucified two Syrian rebels in NE Syria, and Raymond Ibrahim adds more detail. It is also claimed that jihadists are hanging the bodies of executed enemies on crosses crucifixion-style in a town in Northern Syria, link, link. Crucifixions have taken place in Aleppo, where militants said the bodies would hang for three days [Reuters], link.
Atheistic North Korea continues to be the number one place in the world where faith costs the most. Christians are classified as hostile and persecution is extreme: they are imprisoned in labour camps, tortured, or even killed just for owning a Bible. The North Korean leadership sees Christianity as a threat and so has total control of information coming out of the country. Nevertheless, reports have got out and have been identified and confirmed by the UN. The tortures that are happening to Christians have been described as ‘absolutely inhumane’.
As an example, security guards broke into a secret church, killed several dozen believers, and sent some 100 members of their families to the countries notorious prison camps. [Open Doors]
Like North Korea, China feels threatened by any movement that galvanizes a large sector of the population. So there has been an aggressive crackdown on house churches. The CCP’s persecution of Christians involves demolishing churches and arresting leaders. Imprisoning Christians in brainwashing camps is another step in the CCP’s intensifying crackdown on religion [heritage.org]. Believers are forced to call their gatherings ‘patriotic’ assemblies, or be sent to prison and possible torture. Half-a-billion digital surveillance cameras are linked to the social-security system, giving authorities the power to deduct welfare or pension payments from so-called “offenders”.
Persecution of Christians in India has been rising sharply since 2016, link, link. According to India’s Persecution Relief, there were 330 incidents of hate crime in 2016, rising to 527 incidents in 2019. Churches and individual believers are attacked.
Persecution is attributed to growing Hindu nationalism and religious hatred stirred up by the rise of India’s anti-conversion laws across the states, link. These laws generally prohibit someone from attempting to convert any person from one religion to another (by whatever means). So whilst they do not target Christians directly, they are being misused by right-wing Hindu groups to harass Christians since they argue all Indians should be Hindus. Consequently, organisations like Release International are calling upon the Indian government to repeal the anti-conversion laws.
The country’s blasphemy laws are some of the strictest in the world, and the World Council of Churches (WCC) has called them “a major source of victimization and persecution” of religious minorities (Christians comprise just 1.6% of the population). The mere accusation of blasphemy is enough to spur angry mobs to violence and in March 2013 some 3,000 Muslims stormed Christian churches, torched hundreds of homes and burned hundreds of Bibles in a Christian neighbourhood of Lahore.
Quite reasonably, the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) prohibits people from sending messages that are “false, fabricated, indecent or obscene”. But texting “Jesus Christ” on mobile phones is also banned! Why is Jesus Christ offensive to Muslims? Are they afraid of the source of truth?
The Sharia-biased Muslim Brotherhood government of Egypt, headed by Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, has taken over the country from the Mubarak regime. Today, Coptic Christians are paying the increased price for regime change with their lives and property. “The reality is the persecution of Christians and other minorities inside Egypt has increased dramatically since the Morsi election” (Jerry Dykstra, director of communications at Open Doors USA).
Muslim attacks on Christians throughout Egypt follow a sequence of events: threatening leaflets, followed by attacks on Christian property, followed by the displacement of Christians. Some leaflets offer monetary rewards to Muslims who ‘kill or physically attack the enemies of Allah’. When asked for help, the police, the army and the Muslim Brotherhood led government tend to ‘look the other way’, and little is reported on Western media [Unity Coalition for Israel].
On 7 March 2010 some 500 Christians were murdered in the night by rampaging Muslim gangs near the city of Jos. Some accuse the military of complicity in the killings. If you want to see reality, try and watch the following video.
WARNING: this video contains violent scenes
In 2020 the persecution watch group Open Doors placed Sudan at number seven in its World Watch list of the worst countries to be a Christian. The organization documented how, in previous years, the Bashir regime intimidated Christians, destroyed churches, and arrested Christian leaders.
But in 2020 things began to look hopeful for Sudan’s 2 million Christians when, under new government, wide-reaching reforms included scrapping the apostacy law, under which anyone renouncing Islam would be sentenced to death. The government brought to an end Islamic law, link. This is seen as an answer to many years of fervent prayer.
In August 2013 a task force of 20 police, social workers and special agents raided the home of a Christian family in Darmstadt. The four children (7-14 years) were forcibly removed from devastated parents after a court claimed that the children had “adopted the parents’ opinions”.
The Home School Legal Defence Association said “the sole grounds for removal were that the parents, Dirk and Petra Wunderlich (a Christian couple) continued to home-school their children in defiance of a German ban on home education”. The Father, Dirk Wunderlich, said “the government is trying to influence the children”. It is claimed that the German government’s motive is to implement a pluralistic ideology. The children were later returned on condition that they were sent to a state school.
Persecution in the UK
Over the years, persecution in the UK has happened by stealth via EU Equality Law (see sidebar). It is also quietly happening today from political Islam. Consider just a few of many cases drawn from Christian Concern:
- At least 1,100 UK Christians (possibly nearer to 3,000) who have converted from Islam can be protected from persecution via a secret network of ‘safe houses’ being set up across Britain
- A Christian counsellor has been dismissed from Relate because he felt his obligation to give sex therapy to homosexual couples contradicted his Christian ethics
- A Christian minister has been removed from a community radio talk show because his statement that ‘Jesus is the only way’ offended some Muslim listeners
- A Christian couple had to turn their hotel into a community centre after they lost their income following a conversation with a Muslim woman. The Muslim accused the couple of criticising Islam. A court found them not guilty of any offence but their business suffered
- A teacher was suspended after offering to pray for a student. “I am amazed that a country with such a strong Christian tradition has become a country where it is hard to speak about your faith.”
- A UK court ruled against a Christian employee of British Airways after she challenged the decision by her employer to ban her from wearing a visible cross at work
- A judge declared it was unlawful for two Christian guesthouse owners to deny a double room to a couple in a civil partnership. The judge ruled that under the 2010 Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations, civil partnerships must be treated in the same way as marriage
- After a judicial review brought by the National Secular Society (NSS) on behalf of an ex-councillor and atheist, a High Court in London banned prayers at the start of Bideford Council meetings. The ex-councillor claimed to be ’embarrassed’ by the long-standing tradition of saying prayers even though he was not obliged to take part. The ban was on a technical point but is one more example of the judicial bias in the UK against Christianity
- A teacher from London came under under investigation because she refused to teach children that disagreeing with gay marriage is automatically homophobic. Another teacher from London was told she had broken the law because she would not use a story book about two male penguins raising a chick together. There is an urgent need for civil liberty protections for people who disagree with same-sex marriage
- The Association of Christian Counsellors (ACC) has bowed to pressure from the PSA (a government statutory body) to remove any therapeutic support to people with unwanted same-sex attraction. Another example of persecution by stealth!
- A Christian occupational therapist was disciplined for praying for a Muslim colleague. The colleague expressed concerns about her health and accepted prayer. She had never complained to the therapist and had always initiated discussions about Christianity. The therapist said “There is undoubtedly a pattern of inequality of treatment of Christians and Muslims in the NHS”
- Core Issues Trust, a non-profit Christian ministry that supports men and women who voluntarily seek change in sexual preference and expression, had its Barclays account closed since the ethical views of the Trust did not agree with those of the bank. The Trust has since been compensated
- Richard Page was dismissed as a magistrate and blocked from returning to an NHS role after he expressed his belief that children do best with a mum and a dad
UK Police State?In 2013, three Christian street preachers were arrested in the UK:
These preachers are not breaking any laws and are perfectly within their rights. The police are overreaching their authority and misapplying the law. Their actions show an increasing hostility towards Christianity [Christian Concern]In a similar incident, a 73 year old preacher was arrested outside Banbury Magistrates Court House simply because some people inside the building found his preaching ‘offensive’. Subsequently all charges against him were dismissed by Oxford Magistrates Court, which said that he had ‘no case to answer’. This is another example of unjustified police aggression against Christians.
A Christian policeman provoked unjustified anger in his local police force when he made a stand on his Christian beliefs regarding homosexuality. He was threatened with dismissal.
Christian street preacher, Joshua Sutcliffe, was warned and told by police at Oxford Circus, London, that it is now a crime to offend someone in public. Joshua had said that “homosexuality is wrong”.
Shocking police body camera footage revealed the brutal arrest of a father for refusing to leave the bedside of his critically ill six-year-old daughter, after doctors announced life-saving treatment would be withdrawn without the family’s consent.
Sharia Law in the UK
Another example of persecution in the UK can be seen in the growing use of Sharia Law via Sharia Councils in the UK. In Sharia we see very unequal treatment of men and women, with women severely disadvantaged compared to their equality under UK Judeo-Christian law. This could be seen as a form of persecution and is explained in the video.
Fighting for Justice in the UK
Persecution is a violation of ones human rights as stated in Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. More importantly, the God of the Bible loves justice and instructs man to do justice (Micah 6:8) and to preserve justice (Isaiah 56:1). Cases of UK persecution have therefore been taken to court, and won! Examples of restored justice (aided by legal action from The Christian Legal Centre):
- Margaret Forrester, a Christian mental health worker was restored to work and even offered a better job, following her suspension from her NHS job for expressing her private views on abortion to colleagues
- A Christian nurse who was prevented from wearing her cross at work has been allowed to return to work without having to remove her cross
- Four Bristol street preachers were arrested when simply preaching on Christian beliefs, sin and life after death. The four preachers were eventually acquitted of all charges and launched a civil action against the police for damages
Further examples of persecution in the UK can be found at Christian Concern and Christian Voice. If you are in the UK and feel you are being persecuted for your faith, contact the Christian Legal Centre.
In all this, remember that Jesus said:
Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great.Matthew 5:11-12
Persecution of Christians in the Future
Is the screw tightening? It is claimed that the 20th century persecutions were the most severe in the history of the church. According to the World Christian Encyclopaedia (2001), some 45.4 million Christians were martyred in the 20th century. Today, around the world, more than 340 million Christians live in places where they experience high levels of persecution, just for following Jesus.
Jesus said that an hour (a relatively brief period of time) is coming when men will kill believers in Christ because they think they are offering service to God (John 16:2)! This happened in the Catholic Inquisition and is happening today under militant Islam. Do the Jihadists know that they are fulfilling prophecy? On the positive side, the arrest of a believer leads to an opportunity to testify to a godless world (Luke 21:12-19).
When asked for signs of His Second Coming and the end of the age, Jesus gave His disciples a list (Mat 24):
- False Christs (v5)
- False prophets (v11)
- Wars (v6)
- Famines and earthquakes (v7)
- Apostasy (v10)
- Increased lawlessness (v12)
- Worldwide preaching of the gospel (v14)
- AND HATRED OF CHRISTIANS BY ALL NATIONS (v9)
Just think about verse 9. Jesus is saying that just before He comes again, believers would be hated and delivered up to the authorities, and some will be killed:
They will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My names sake (Matthew 24:9)
The significant point here is the hatred of Christians by all nations. That must include the ‘westernised’ nations (USA, Canada, Europe, Australia etc.). For instance, the EU’s indirect stance against Christianity via ‘Equality Directives’ (see sidebar) may be the seeds of the prophesied worldwide persecution and apostasy. There are strong indications that the EU could be the kernel of the end time World Government and that Roman Catholicism is the kernel of the end time (persecuting) apostate church. How far the true church goes through this end time scenario is a matter of prophetic interpretation. Some see the persecuted church in the suffering saints of Revelation 13:
It was given to him (the end time world dictator) to make war with the saints and to overcome themRevelation 13:7
Others see a pre-tribulation rapture i.e. removal and protection of the true church (Matthew 24:37-41, Revelation 3:10) prior to the brief reign of the beast of Revelation. With this interpretation, they view the persecuted ‘saints’ in Revelation 13 as persecuted Israel (Daniel 7:21). These ‘saints of the Most High’ are severely persecuted for just 42 months (Daniel 7:25, Jeremiah 30:7) under the beasts of Revelation 13.