The Guardian newspaper has published a series of articles demonstrating that Christians are the most persecuted group in the world. They highlight the sheer scale of persecution and give evidence that it is on the rise.
Using data from charity Open Doors and the personal experience of Christians in countries such as China and Pakistan, the newspaper sheds light on a situation which is largely under-reported by the mainstream media.
One article, entitled ‘Dying for Christianity’, begins: “The scale of attacks on Christians in the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and Latin America has alarmed organisations that monitor religious persecution, with most reporting a significant deterioration in recent years.”
Rise in persecution
The newspaper cites figures from Open Doors, which “conservatively estimates that 4,344 Christians were killed for faith-related reasons in 12 months up to November 2014, and 1,062 churches were attacked”.
The organisation also reported that “persecution increased in 24 countries last year” and that “the rate of increase is accelerating”.
A second article, ‘Christians under pressure: from bigotry at school to imprisonment and murder’, shares the stories of Christians living with persecution.
Pastor Xu Yonghai has served five years in Chinese prisons for his faith and has spoken out against the systematic persecution of Christians by the state.
The Guardian reports that: “He has denounced the bulldozing of churches and attacks against preachers, and has been imprisoned twice”.
The article notes that Xu prayed, “Please give me the strength to hang on,” and “Please let the policemen confess their crimes and repent their sins.”
The global extent of persecution is further emphasised in a third feature, ‘Where in the world is the worst place to be a Christian?’ North Korea comes top followed by Somalia and Iraq in the list of the “top 25 most anti-Christian countries”.
Lord David Alton, who led a debate on religious freedom in the House of Lords this month, said: “some assessments claim that as many as 200 million Christians in over 60 countries around the world face some degree of restriction, discrimination or outright persecution”.
He continued: “Whatever the real figures the scale is enormous. From Syria, Iraq, Iran and Egypt to North Korea, China, Vietnam and Laos, from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to Indonesia, Malaysia, Burma, from Cuba, Colombia and Mexico to Eritrea, Nigeria and Sudan, Christians face serious violations of religious freedom”.