The persecution of Christians worldwide continues to get worse:
If you have ever wondered what is the surest way to face persecution, torture and death in so many places around the world, we fully know the answer to that: simply be a committed follower of Jesus Christ and this WILL be the likely result.
Persecution is a fact of life for millions of Christians worldwide, and it seems to be getting worse each year. Not a day goes by where we do not learn about even more atrocities that Christians undergo. They are routinely and repeatedly being targeted. Consider just one such news headline:
Two attackers believed to be members of a militant network that pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group blew themselves up outside a packed Roman Catholic cathedral during a Palm Sunday Mass on Indonesia’s Sulawesi island, wounding at least 20 people, police said. https://nypost.com/2021/03/28/suicide-bomb-hits-palm-sunday-mass-in-indonesia/
Open Doors is one of the leading international organisations carefully monitoring the global persecution of Christians. Each year it releases its “World Watch” report on the state of this persecution. It makes for grim reading. Here is how their latest report begins:
The World Watch List 2021 has been released. It is the most authoritative list of its kind, studying the most dangerous places to be a Christian. This year, we have seen that persecution has only grown, both in likelihood and severity. Here are some trends in persecution and discrimination as revealed by the World Watch List.
1 In 8 Christians Are Persecuted For Their Faith
For the first time ever, all countries ranked in the World Watch List top 50 score at least “very high” levels of persecution and discrimination. 12 countries saw “extreme” levels of persecution and discrimination, another increase on last year’s list. Persecution has intensified and reaches at least 340 million Christians today. That’s 1 in 8 worldwide, 1 in 6 in Africa, 2 out of 5 in Asia, and 1 in 12 in Latin America.
COVID-19 Changes The Face Of Persecution
COVID-19 has transformed the face of persecution like never before. Authorities across Asia have restricted Christians from accessing medical treatment and supplies. In fact, 80% of those that received emergency relief from Open Doors in India were first excluded from official distribution.
Across the Middle East, the enforcement of quarantine laws has forced Christians back into the homes of those who persecute them (often, their own family members). In countries like Iran, some Christian doctors and nurses were forced to run COVID-19 clinics with no PPE as their governments believe that Christians are expendable.
North Korea Remains Number One
North Korea has been ranked as the most dangerous country for Christians since 2002. Experts say there is no sign of any improvement in the lives of the estimated 200,000 – 400,000 Christians remaining in the country. Right now, around 50,000 – 70,000 Christians are believed to be imprisoned in labour camps. https://www.opendoors.org.au/persecuted-christians/blog/1-in-8-christians-persecuted-for-their-faith-world-watch-list/
And looking at the top ten nations involved in the persecution of Christians, except for North Korea at #1, and India at #10, seven of the other eight nations are Muslim countries. In fact, 33 of the top 50 nations are Islamic. As such, Islam remains the greatest persecutor of Christians globally. https://www.opendoors.org.au/persecuted-christians/world-watch-list/
Another recent report from Open Doors begins with these ominous words:
The list has revealed that over 340 million Christians suffer high levels of persecution and discrimination for their faith. That’s 1 in 8 worldwide. This marks an increase of 80 million persecuted Christians from the previous year. In 2021, for the first time in the World Watch List’s history, only countries scoring ‘extreme’ or ‘very high’ levels of persecution featured on the top 50, indicating a rise in persecution levels around the world.
COVID-19 has been a particular catalyst for the increase of Christian persecution and discrimination. In India (#10 on the World Watch List 2021), 100,000 Christians received emergency relief from partners of Open Doors. 80% of these believers, reported they had been dismissed from food distribution points because of their faith. The worldwide pandemic also fuelled the growth of Islamic extremism across sub-Saharan Africa. Churches faced 30% higher levels of violence compared to the 2020 reporting period.
Advancements in technology have also presented opportunities for authorities to monitor Christians closer than ever before. Surveillance cameras, facial recognition and biometric-based technology have been used in places like China (#17). China has an estimated 570 million CCTV cameras, many of which are installed around religious venues. https://www.opendoors.org.au/persecuted-christians/prayer/world-watch-list-2021-1-in-8-christians-persecuted/
And another report offers further details on all this:
Open Doors’ 2021 report revealed two important persecution trends in 2020. The number of Christians killed has increased by 60% this year, mostly because of Islamic violence against Nigerian Christians. Secondly, anti-Christian governments around the world use COVID-19 restrictions to persecute Christians.
“This past year 2020 has been a year of uncertainty and fear. We’ve been all fighting a virus that we cannot see with the naked eye. Less known but equally as viral has been the discrimination, isolation and violence against Christians by using COVID-19 as a leverage and as justification,” Open Doors President and CEO David Curry told the conference.
In Nigeria, over 2,200 Christians were murdered by radical Islamists. This number makes up slightly less than half of the 4,761 Christians killed for their faith worldwide, according to Open Doors statistics. Most of the Christians killed in 2020 gave up their lives to extremist groups, not governments, Curry said.
“Extremists […] are emboldened by government weakened by COVID-19 restrictions, knowing that they can steal food and medical supplies from already embattled Christian communities around the world,” he said.
Violence by Islamists in Nigeria amounts to genocide, Curry said. Attacks have spilled over into neighboring countries. Across Africa, even countries with sizeable Christian majorities like Mozambique and Burkina Faso have suffered from Islamic persecution. It only takes a few extremists to commit violence against Christians. https://www.christianpost.com/news/open-doors-finds-60-rise-in-christians-killed-worldwide-in-2020.html
It is indeed frightening that the virus has been enlisted as an aid in persecution of Christians. And even though such discrimination and bigotry seems to be especially reserved for believers, it is not just Christians on the receiving end of this. Another article speaks further to how COVID-19 has become weaponised in the hands of the State to deal with those who dare to differ:
The Covid-19 pandemic has taken the militant policing of others’ thoughts and behaviour to a whole new level. Anyone making their own decisions about their life amid this global fiasco has been shamed for wrong-think, in a page taken straight from George Orwell’s ‘1984’, written in 1949, in which a character is executed for thoughtcrime. It’s not uncommon for workers nowadays to be fired from their jobs if the company feels the individual has violated what it considers to be proper conduct in the Covid-19 era. It’s not quite the same as Orwell’s imagined punishment by ‘vaporization’, but we seem to be getting there. Woke citizens who are completely intolerant of anyone whose views and behaviour diverges from theirs amid the pandemic are already in hysterics over people choosing not to wear face masks or electing where to wear them, or opting to go about their daily life as normally as possible.
Now we’re starting to see these same militant sanitary authoritarians wanting to dictate to others whether they should be forced to be vaccinated. And governments are playing along, with several nations evoking the notion of vaccine passports for travel or simply to enter certain indoor venues. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, for example, has raised the possibility of British pub owners having the option of reserving the right of access to their establishment to those who have been vaccinated against Covid-19.
Similarly, it appears that even higher education may soon be something reserved for the vaccinated class, with Rutgers University in New Jersey setting the tone for the next school year by requiring that students be vaccinated in order to attend.
Will others follow suit? How about mass transit, gyms, libraries, restaurants, movie theatres, shopping malls, swimming pools? Are we currently witnessing the beginning of the segregation of society based on vaccination? If so, it’ll be to the detriment of anyone skeptical about turning their body over to Big Pharma lest they find themselves barred from what most would consider normal life.
Yet there are people cheering for exactly that. The mere thought of people who think and behave differently to them is intolerable. The authoritarian policing of other people’s lives – the sort of extremism that used to be relegated to science fiction – is now nearly a fait accompli. And authoritarian wokeness disguised as benevolence is exactly how we ended up here. https://www.rt.com/op-ed/519284-covid19-pandemic-wokeness-religion/
But Christians are the main objects of statist persecution. As noted at the beginning of this piece, you will likely have far less to fear from the oppressive state if you are not a committed Christian. When Jesus told his would-be followers to count the cost of discipleship, he certainly meant it.
And we are seeing this fully being played out in so much of the world today. Please pray for these persecuted Christians, and please support groups like Open Doors.