Christian Persecution on a Global Scale
Strangely missing in the debate about President Trump’s temporary travel restrictions, which is significantly less dramatic that President Carter’s actions in response to the Iranian embassy takeover, and roughly similar to President Obama’s actions in 2011, is the near total exclusion of Christians from U.S. Middle Eastern refugee programs over the past eight years.
In a recent CBN interview, President Trump announced a sharp change in policy, noting that Christians in the Middle East have “been horribly treated. Do you know if you were a Christian in Syria it was impossible, at least very tough to get into the United States? If you were a Muslim you could come in, but if you were a Christian, it was almost impossible and the reason that was so unfair, everybody was persecuted in all fairness, but they were chopping off the heads of everybody but more so the Christians. And I thought it was very, very unfair.”
The move is overdue. Christians have been subjected to extraordinary maltreatment across the globe.
The Ethics and Liberty Review Commission has reviewed the latest data from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, and outlined the five key facts concerning Christian persecution.
1. In China, Christian communities have ‘borne a significant brunt of the oppression,’ with numerous churches bulldozed and crosses torn down.
2. In Sudan, the government stiffened penalties for both apostasy and blasphemy.The regime prosecutes Christian pastors on trumped-up charges and marginalizes the country’s minority Christian community.
3. Boko Haram continues to attack with impunity both Christians and many Muslims.From bombings at churches and mosques to mass kidnappings of children from schools, Boko Haram has cut a wide path of terror across vast swaths of Nigeria and in neighboring countries, leaving thousands killed and millions displaced
4. The situation is “particularly grave” for Evangelical and Pentecostal Christians in Eritrea.The government requires all physically- and mentally-capable people between the ages of 18 and 70 to perform a full-time, indefinite, and poorly-paid national service obligation, which includes military, development, or civil service components. There are no exemptions for conscientious objections and individuals completing their national service obligation in the military are prohibited from practicing their religion. Failure to participate in the national service results in being detained, sentenced to hard labor, abused, and having one’s legal documents confiscated.
5. The report notes numerous incidents over the past year of Iranian authorities raiding church services, threatening church members, and arresting and imprisoning worshipers and church leaders, particularly converts to Evangelical forms of Christianity.Since 2010, authorities ‘arbitrarily arrested and detained more than 550 Christians throughout the country.’ As of February 2016, approximately 90 Christians were either in prison, detained, or awaiting trial because of their religious beliefs and activities.”
According to a Vatican Radio report translated by The Blaze in “2016, nearly 90,000 Christians were martyred around the world, according to a new study by an Italian research group. According to the Center for Studies on New Religions…a Christian was martyred about once every six minutes in 2016, making them the most persecuted religious group in the world. Massimo Introvigne, director of CENSUR, told Vatican Radio last week that approximately 70 percent of the martyred Christians were from ‘tribal villages’ in Africa because Christians often refuse to take up arms during conflicts. The other 30 percent, according to the study, were Christians who fell victim to terrorism or governmental persecution. Still, the number of Christians who were martyred in 2016 is likely more than 90,000 because the study was unable to include data from China or India, two east Asian countries that have large Christian populations, because of the ‘underground’ nature of churches in those countries.”
Open Doors notes that persecution took place in over 65 nations. North Korea is ranked as the worst offender. “It is illegal to be a Christian in North Korea and Christians are often sent to labor camps or are killed if they are discovered.”.
Originally published on New York Analysis of Policy and Government.