Study: Christians Remain Most Persecuted Religious Group in the World
A new study shows Christians remain the most persecuted religious group in the world, with around 90,000 killed for their faith in 2016. That’s the bad news. The good news is that there are encouraging signs things may be about to turn around for persecuted Christians.
Radical Islamism has been the main source of the persecution of millions of Christians worldwide per year, according to Open Doors USA. Christians throughout the world have for years suffered imprisonment, torture, rape, beheadings, church bombings, and even crucifixion because of their faith, while the United States under President Barack Obama and the rest of the Western world have largely looked the other way.
Via Breitbart News:
Massimo Introvigne, Director of the Center for Studies on New Religions (Cesnur), told Vatican Radio that around half a billion Christians in the world are unable to express their faith completely freely, while around 90,000 — one every six minutes — died for their faith in the past year alone.
Referring to statistics from the Center for the Study of Global Christianity, Mr. Introvigne said around 70 percent of Christians murdered in 2016 died in tribal conflicts in Africa. These deaths were included, he said, because very often they involved Christians who refuse to take up arms for reasons of conscience.
Introvigne told Vatican Radio that the Catholic Church is currently considering possible sainthood for individual Christians killed in territories controlled by the Islamic State terror group.
The Middle East and Africa remain the most violent areas in the world for Christians in countries like Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, and Pakistan. North Korea tops the list of countries with the most extreme persecution against Christians.
There are hopeful signs emerging that the tide may be beginning to turn, with one Eastern European country stepping up to the plate in a unique way. The Hungarian government in September created a position in its foreign ministry specifically devoted to anti-Christian persecution. The newly appointed “Deputy State Secretary for Assisting Persecuted Christians” and a delegation of Hungarian diplomats and politicians visited the Vatican last month to drum up support for their efforts, according to Angelus:
The group was led by Bence Rétvári, Hungary’s Vice Minister for Human Capacities, and had meetings with Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with States; Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches; and Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, former Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in Geneva.
Crux spoke to Rétvári Nov. 23, and I asked him to explain why Hungary is doing something no other state in the world is doing.
“We can put that question the other way around,” he said. “Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world, so why are there no other governments that want to help them? Christians [in the Middle East] are discriminated against doubly, first because they are hit by the war, and second because they are Christians,” Rétvári said.
“Religious freedom as guaranteed in international treaties is not always respected, and in some cases people face death for refusing to abandon their religion. There are communities that have existed for more than 2,000 years that are facing extinction. We’re like a brother who sees that his sister’s house is on fire,” he said, “and we need to go put out the fire and then help rebuild the house.
To use Hungary’s status as a member state of international bodies such as the United Nations, the European Union and the International Criminal Court to pursue criminal indictments of perpetrators of anti-Christian violence and acts of genocide.
To raise awareness about the global dimensions of anti-Christian persecution.
To build projects such as hospitals and schools in the regions affected by the violence.
Hungary also plans to host an annual international conference, he said, and to issue annual reports on anti-Christian hostility.
Rétvári acknowledged that he feels a personal stake in the issue.
“As a Christian, I think everyone is touched by seeing other Christians in trouble,” he said. “In the Western world, we Christians have become too comfortable. We often can’t even find the time to go to Mass on Sunday, but there are others who risk their lives for their religion.”
Hungary may be alone so far in terms of having a specific department for anti-Christian persecution, but its decision reflects mounting awareness among governments generally that Christians need help, right now especially in the Middle East.