In April of 2019, the interim report of the Independent Review into the global persecution of Christians was released indicating that the persecution of Christians in parts of the world is at near ‘genocide’ levels. The report, which was ordered by the former Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and led by the Bishop of Truro the Right Reverend Philip Mounstephen, estimated that one in three people suffer from religious persecution and that Christians were the most persecuted religious group in the world.
Christians in the Middle East
A century ago, Christians in the Middle East made up 20 percent of the population. Today, they constitute no more than 3 to 4 percent of people in the region (Pew Research Center, 2015). Not only do Christians face being wiped out from parts of the Middle East, but the religion is at risk of disappearing in some parts of the world. Christians in Palestine, for example, represent less that 1.5 percent of the population, while in Iraq they have fallen from 1.5 million before 2003 to 120,000. In the report the Bishop of Truro writes, “Evidence shows not only the geographic spread of anti-Christian persecution, but also its increasing severity.” According to the report, millions of Christians in the Middle East have been uprooted from their homes, murdered, kidnapped, imprisoned and discriminated against. “The inconvenient truth,” the report finds, is “that the overwhelming majority (80%) of persecuted religious believers are Christians”. Moreover, the report states that in countries such as Saudi Arabia, school textbooks “teach pupils religious hatred and intolerance towards non-Muslims, including Christians and Jews.”
Christians in Asia
As for Christians in Asian countries, the prospects are just as grim. In China, Christian persecution is so severe that churches have moved underground. Not only are churches being shut down, but pastors are being jailed, Sundays schools and youth ministries have been banned and even scripture is being re-written. Just two years ago one of China’s most well known underground pastors, Wang Yi and his wife, Jiang Rong, were detained after police arrested more than a hundred members of their congregation in December of 2018. Just recently, Wang was sentenced to nine years in prison for proclaiming the gospel while his wife has been placed on house arrest. As part of his sentence, he will also be stripped of his political rights for three years and have around $7,000 of his assets seized. Christian churches and believers such as Wang are falling victim to what Chinese Christians and rights activists say is the worst repression of religion since 1966-1976, in which the Mao Zedong government vowed to eradicate religion during the Cultural Revolution.
Furthermore, Christians in North Korea are being held in labour camps where they are kicked and beaten with sticks for believing in Jesus. One North Korean defector described one of Kim Jong-un’s brutal labour camps as ‘Hell on Earth’. According to Open Doors, an organisation that supports persecuted Christians, around 70,000 Christians are incarcerated in concentration camps in North Korea, with many coming to untimely deaths due to the conditions of squalor. Ms Woo, another victim of a concentration camp where a sign reads ‘Do not try to escape, you shall be killed’ also stated, “The guards were merciless. They kicked me and beat me with sticks. Christians are sometimes killed or locked up for the rest of their lives in concentration camps.” According to Open Doors, other nations in which Christian persecution is extreme include Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, Pakistan, Eritrea, Sudan Yemen, Iran, India and Syria.
Political Correctness and the Media’s Deafening Silence
According to former Secretary Hunt, the main reason why the persecution of Christians is not being discussed is “political correctness”. In 2019 he stated, “I think there is a misplaced worry that it is somehow colonialist to talk about a religion that was associated with colonial powers rather than the countries that we marched into as colonisers.” Not only is this excuse unconvincing, but the deafening silence of the media on this issue is frightening. Followers of Jesus Christ around the world are being murdered, intimidated, imprisoned and forced to leave their countries as refugees, yet, in my opinion, not many people seem to care. Now more than ever, a change must occur.
What Can You Do To Help Persecuted Christians Around the World?
If you would like to help persecuted Christians who continue to courageously follow Jesus, you can donate to the following organisations:
Open Doors: https://www.opendoorsuk.org
Release International: https://releaseinternational.org
Barnabas Fund: https://barnabasfund.org/
China Aid: https://www.chinaaid.org
Mosaic Middle East (FRRME): https://mosaicmiddleeast.org