Christians continued to be the most persecuted group across the globe in 2016, according to a study.
The upcoming report from Italian-based Center for Studies on New Religions, determined that 90,000 Christians were killed for their beliefs worldwide last year and nearly a third were at the hands of Islamic extremists like ISIS. Others were killed by state and non-state persecution, including in places like North Korea.
“U.S. policy has not had a strategy for specifically addressing the persecution of Christians,” Ryan Mauro, national security analyst for the Clarion Project, told FoxNews.com “For example, very few people are even aware that Iraqi Christians began organizing to defend themselves and needed our help.”
The study also found that as many as 600 million Christians were prevented from practicing their faith in 2016.
The findings continue a disturbing trend from the previous year in which Christians around the world endured horrific acts of persecution, including imprisonment and beheadings.
“These numbers underscore what we already know,” Robert Nicholson of the Philos Project said to Foxnews.com.”There are many places on earth where being a Christian is the most dangerous thing you can be.
“Those who think of Christianity as a religion of the powerful need to see that in many places it’s a religion of the powerless. And the powerless deserve to be protected.”
While the situation is most dire in the Middle East, Christianity is under assault in Africa and Asia, too, according to an Aid to the Church in Need study of incidents in 2015. It cited persecution at the hands of Islamist terror groups such as Boko Haram in Nigeria and other extremists in Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania and other parts of the continent.
Asia’s Christians have been targeted by nationalist religious movements — Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist — in such countries as Pakistan, India and Myanmar. Many of these groups increasingly view Christianity as a foreign, “colonial” import, and believe its practitioners are doing the bidding of the West, say experts.
While Christians continue to be under siege from ISIS radicals in Syria and Iraq, the religion is being targeted throughout the region with members of the faith also under increasing pressure in Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations.
The Christian population in Iraq alone has plummeted from 1.5 million in 2003 to current estimates of 275,000 and could be gone for good within just a few years, according to activists. The dwindling numbers are due to genocide, refugees fleeing to other countries, those who are internally displaced, and others hiding in plain sight and not allowing their faith to be publicly known.
Despite these issues, experts like Mauro say that the faith has continued to flourish despite growing opposition.
“The persecution of Christians has failed to suppress the faith,” he said to FoxNews.com. “On the contrary, Christianity appears to be rapidly growing beneath the surface. Persecution will increase as Islamists see Christianity as an increasing problem for them.”
One of the most respected journalists in the United States and the bestselling author of The Future Church uses his unparalleled knowledge of world affairs and religious insight to investigate the troubling worldwide persecution of Christians.
From Iraq and Egypt to Sudan and Nigeria, from Indonesia to the Indian subcontinent, Christians in the early 21st century are the world’s most persecuted religious group. According to the secular International Society for Human Rights, 80 percent of violations of religious freedom in the world today are directed against Christians. In effect, our era is witnessing the rise of a new generation of martyrs. Underlying the global war on Christians is the demographic reality that more than two-thirds of the world’s 2.3 billion Christians now live outside the West, often as a beleaguered minority up against a hostile majority– whether it’s Islamic fundamentalism in the Middle East and parts of Africa and Asia, Hindu radicalism in India, or state-imposed atheism in China and North Korea. In Europe and North America, Christians face political and legal challenges to religious freedom. Allen exposes the deadly threats and offers investigative insight into what is and can be done to stop these atrocities.
“This book is about the most dramatic religion story of the early 21st century, yet one that most people in the West have little idea is even happening: The global war on Christians,” writes John Allen. “We’re not talking about a metaphorical ‘war on religion’ in Europe and the United States, fought on symbolic terrain such as whether it’s okay to erect a nativity set on the courthouse steps, but a rising tide of legal oppression, social harassment and direct physical violence, with Christians as its leading victims. However counter-intuitive it may seem in light of popular stereotypes of Christianity as a powerful and sometimes oppressive social force, Christians today indisputably form the most persecuted religious body on the planet, and too often its new martyrs suffer in silence.” This book looks to shatter that silence.
A woman is caught with a Bible and publicly shot to death. An elderly priest is abducted and never seen again. Three buses full of students and teachers are struck by roadside bombs. These are not casualties of a war. These are Christian believers being persecuted for their faith in the twenty-first century.
Many Americans do not understand that Christians today are victims in many parts of the world. Even many Western Christians, who worship and pray without fear of violent repercussions, are unaware that so many followers of Christ live under governments and among people who are often openly hostile to their faith. They think martyrdom became a rarity long ago.
Persecuted soundly refutes these assumptions. This book offers a glimpse at the modern-day life of Christians worldwide, recounting the ongoing attacks that rarely make international headlines.
As Western Christians pray for the future of Christ’s church, it is vital that they understand a large part of the world’s Christian believers live in danger. Persecuted gives documented accounts of the persecution of Christians in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and former Soviet nations. It contains vivid stories of men and women who suffer abuse because of their faith in Jesus Christ, and tells of their perseverance and courage..
Persecuted is far more than a thorough and moving study of this global pattern of violence—it is a cry for freedom and a call to action.
Could you retain your faith even if it meant losing your life? Your family’s lives? To many Christians in the Middle East today, a “momentary, light affliction” means enduring only torture instead of martyrdom. The depth of oppression Jesus followers suffer is unimaginable to most Western Christians. Yet, it is an everyday reality for those who choose faith over survival in Syria, Iran, Egypt, Lebanon, and other countries hostile to the Gospel of Christ. In Killing Christians, Tom Doyle takes readers to the secret meetings, the torture rooms, the grim prisons, and even the executions that are the “calling” of countless Muslims-turned-Christians.
Each survivor longs to share with brothers and sisters “on the outside” what Christ has taught them. Killing Christians is their message to readers who still enjoy freedom to practice their faith. None would wish their pain and suffering on those who do not have to brave such misery, but the richness gained through their remarkable trials are delivered—often in their own words—through this book. The stories are breathtaking, the lessons soul-stirring and renewing. Killing Christians presents the dead serious work of expanding and maintaining the Faith.
Followers of Christ need to relearn what it means to stand courageously for their faith rather than merely survive in a climate of fear. Instead of motivating believers to action, today’s headlines appear to be paralyzing them. Standing in the Fire demonstrates the church triumphant through the lives of people who stood strong and didn’t run away in the face of overwhelming danger. These Middle Eastern heroes of faith fear God more than terrorist groups like ISIS. Supported by Tom Doyle’s commentary on events, the stories included show how these Christians are not living as victims, but victors in Christ.