Christian Persecution on the Rise Globally, but Hope Exists

By: Laura Bennett

Christians have long been persecuted for their faith, but according to the Open Doors annual World Watch List report, rates of violence and hostility toward Christians have increased dramatically with 365 milllion Christians now oppressed because of their religious beliefs.

Using data from Open Doors field workers, in-country networks and external experts, the report reveals that 1 in 7 Christians worldwide face high levels of persecution and discrimination for their faith, with the total number of Christians being persecuted rising 5 million in the last 12 months.

“In many countries, there is no safe place for Christians,” said Open Doors Australia and New Zealand CEO Adam Holland. “Attacks on the homes of Christians [have spiked] 371 percent in the past year.”

Influencing the increase this year, has been continued fallout from divisions in the Middle East and political systems that don’t support Christian worldviews.

“One of the main drivers is Islamic extremism, and some of the impact within the Middle East from armed conflict in years gone by has spread that particularly into Africa,” Adam said.

“There’s this wave of violence that’s increased against Christians. In Asia, there’s a number of autocratic regimes that have a very intense nationalistic viewpoint, and research in Asian countries shows 2 in 5 Christians are persecuted for their faith.”

Also reflected in this year’s report is a 7-fold increase in church closures, largely led by India and China.

“It’s required by law in China [that] every church that’s registered has to have a CCTV camera and they’re actively monitored for anything that’s ‘anti-government’. Freedoms are extremely limited [and] they’re becoming even more limited.

“Almost 85 percent of attacks and closures on churches globally are in India and China.”

Adam acknowledges that the data presents a very dire picture of the church globally, especially where persecution is “just expected” and “normal” but is encouragement by the tenacity of Christians living in those situations.

“In many ways persecution amplifies that commitment and belief that ‘Christ is everything’,” Adam said. “It’s confronting, and there’s real impact on people’s lives, yet faith perseveres and it’s an opportunity for us to keep praying for them and support them.

“What’s true in the kingdom and what we see in the gospels is that really confronting situations coexist alongside hope and faith. I think that’s true, and it’s what we’re seeing.”

Open Doors World Watchlist Report 2024 can be viewed on their website.

Article supplied with thanks to Hope Media.

Feature image: Supplied, Open Doors

About the Author: Laura Bennett is a media professional, broadcaster and writer from Sydney, Australia.

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