I just finished interviewing Lea Carawan, Executive Director of the Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation. Check out the interview here. We discussed religious freedom and some of the recent attempts to neutralize Christianity in America, such as the Veterans Administration in Michigan removing all symbols of Christianity in their chapel. The discussion led me to consider the topic a little more broadly, especially in light of the Christian persecution going on in Iran at the hands of ISIS. I wondered how prevalent Christian persecution of any type was in the rest of the world?
After just a short time digging, I found some pretty startling information. For instance, did you know that Christians are currently the most persecuted religious group in the world?
- The International Society for Human Rights found that 80% of all acts of religious discrimination in the world today are directed at Christians.
- The Centre for the Study of Global Christianity in the United States estimates that 100,000 Christians (which amounts to 11 ever hour) die every year as a result of being targeted because of their faith
- The Pew Research Center says that in 2012, hostility to religion reached a new high when Christians faced discrimination of some form in 139 countries.
- The Pew Research Center also found that over 75% of the world’s population live in areas with severe religious restrictions and many of these people are Christians.
- The United States Department of State reports that Christians in more than 60 countries face persecution from their governments or surrounding neighbors simply because of their belief in Jesus Christ.
So what exactly is Christian persecution? The general understanding is that it includes any hostility which comes as a result of one’s identification with Jesus Christ. The actual persecution can include anything from verbal harassment and negative attitudes to physical torture, imprisonment, and death.
The map shows a color coding of which countries are worst, from “extreme persecution” to “sparse persecution.” North Korea has been ranked #1 on this list for the last 12 years. It is illegal to be a Christian in North Korea. Sadly, if someone is found to be a Christian, they are often sent to labor camps or are killed.
Remember what Jesus told us in Matthew 10:22:
“And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.”
Please pray for our brothers and sisters all over the world who are being persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ.