A new report into religious restrictions around the world confirms that Christians are being harassed in dozens of countries worldwide.
US think-tank Pew Research Center corroborated similar reports on persecution, finding that Christians face challenges and threats for their beliefs in 143 nations. The suffering covered by “harassment” ranged from verbal abuse to physical violence and killings.
Release International, which specifically supports persecuted Christians, welcomed the report but added that the current situation is even worse in China and North Korea than indicated by the report.
Pew found that in 2017, sources in 187 countries reported harassment against all religious groups. The most harassed group after Christians were Muslims, followed by Jews.
The overall figure remained unchanged from 2016, when the figures were at their highest since the study began in 2007.
Considering examples from the previous ten years, it highlighted that in Uganda “Christians were beaten and three were killed for religious reasons in Muslim-majority areas in 2015”.
“The same year, three children were kidnapped because of their father’s conversion from Islam to Christianity. And in 2016, several incidents of violence against converts were reported, including a woman whose husband strangled her to death for leaving Islam.”
‘Behind the times’
Release, which supports Christians around the world, said the breadth of the US report meant it was now “behind the times”.
“From our own findings, we would say that insufficient emphasis is placed on the growing restrictions in China and the severe persecution of Christians in North Korea.”
Paul Robinson, CEO of the group, added that the year after the research stopped, “China imposed even tougher new restrictions to clamp down on Christians in their country. As a consequence, the persecution levels in China are even higher than this research reveals.”
Robinson has called on new Prime Minister Boris Johnson to stand by Theresa May’s Government’s commitment on Christian persecution.
He said Release was “encouraged by this pledge to take the protection of Christians into the very heart of government policy”.
Robinson added: “We were also delighted by your own recent pledge to ‘prioritise protecting religious freedoms and stand up for those facing persecution’.”
In the House of Commons on Thursday, Mr Johnson agreed that he would fight Christian persecution worldwide. He was responding to a question from Eddie Hughes, the Conservative MP for Walsall North.