There is very little that the entire world seems to agree upon, but there is one very frightening trend that is now taking hold literally all over the globe. A passionate hatred of Christianity is sweeping across the planet, and very few global leaders have been willing to step forward and speak out against this rising persecution of Christians.
In many parts of the Middle East, Africa and Asia, believers are being relentlessly attacked by extremists, churches are being destroyed, and laws are being passed to try to prevent the spread of the Christian faith. In some areas, the violence has become so extreme that Christians knowingly risk their own lives just to go to church services each week.
Would you risk your life to go to church? In North America and Europe, the persecution is often more subtle. Even though violent attacks are still fairly rare, Christian beliefs are being undermined by new laws, comedians and television shows regularly mock the Christian faith, and many employers will immediately mentally disqualify a potential candidate for a job if they discover that an individual is a Bible-believing Christian.
Sadly, this is just the beginning. In the years ahead, those that choose to be followers of Jesus Christ will face even greater persecution than we have seen already.
When most people think of “Christian persecution” they immediately think of what is happening in the Middle East. And without a doubt, what ISIS is doing to Christians in Iraq and Syria is beyond horrifying. But that is only part of the story.
In this article, I am going to share with you 10 examples that show how the persecution of Christians is intensifying as anti-Christian hatred sweeps the world, and most of them are from outside the Middle East. I have specifically done this to show that this is truly a global phenomenon.
But to start off this list, let’s begin with how ISIS has been treating Christians in areas that they have conquered…
Eliza Griswold is the author of The Tenth Parallel: Dispatches From the Fault Line Between Christianity and Islam and he has spent a great deal of time examining the demise of the Christian faith in the heart of the Middle East. The following is an excerpt from a recent piece that he did for the New York Times…
Recently, ISIS posted videos delineating the second-class status of Christians in the caliphate. Those unwilling to pay the jizyatax or to convert would be destroyed, the narrator warned, as the videos culminated in the now-infamous scenes of Egyptian and Ethiopian Christians in Libya being marched onto the beach and beheaded, their blood running into the surf.
The future of Christianity in the region of its birth is now uncertain. ‘‘How much longer can we flee before we and other minorities become a story in a history book?’’ says Nuri Kino, a journalist and founder of the advocacy group Demand for Action.
According to a Pew study, more Christians are now faced with religious persecution than at any time since their early history. ‘‘ISIL has put a spotlight on the issue,’’ says Anna Eshoo, a California Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives, whose parents are from the region and who advocates on behalf of Eastern Christians. ‘‘Christianity is under an existential threat.’’
As I discussed above, the persecution of Christians in the Middle East is only part of the story. What is getting much less coverage is the horrific persecution that is going on in many parts of Africa. The following is from a recent CNN piece about the ongoing persecution of Christians in Kenya…
In April this year, hundreds of students at Garissa University in northern Kenya came under attack when Al-Shabaab militants from across the border in Somalia raided dormitories at the college. Separating Christian students from their Muslim classmates, the raiders killed 147 and wounded dozens more. Today, the university stands empty.
Christians in North Eastern Kenya have come under repeated attacks by Al-Shabaab militants.
At Sunday Mass in Garissa’s Cathedral, Our Lady of Consolation, the benches are full. The congregation is praying under armed guard but they’re praying nonetheless.
Each Sunday brings with it new threats from Al-Shabaab. Garissa’s Christians are told that if you worship here, you’ll die. One of those attending Sunday Mass, Patrick Gitau tell us that despite the risks: “Every Sunday I’m here it’s my cathedral. Yeah, I’m here I was baptized in this church.”
It isn’t just Muslims that are viciously persecuting Christians. In India, radical Hindus are regularly conducting violent attacks against Christians and churches. The following is just one recent example…
The Evangelical Fellowship (EFI) of India has reported a violent attack against Christians in the country that was committed earlier this month when over 200 Hindu radicals stormed a Protestant church in the town of Attingal, Kerela, beating up the pastor and some of the worshipers, and breaking the altar.
EFI shared the news with Fides News Agency, reporting that the attack took place on June 14. The radicals apparently shouted slogans like “Bharat Mathaki Jai” (“Hail Mother India”) during the attack, which was broken up after police arrived.
Some of the most vicious attacks against Christians in recent years have happened in Pakistan. Sadly, the authorities often willingly ignore these attacks. The following are just a few of the incidents that have happened recently…
On Sunday, May 24, a Christian man in the Sanda neighborhood of Lahore was accused of blasphemy when some Muslims saw him burning newspapers that reportedly contained Arabic verses from the Koran. After the accusation, a Muslim mob caught the Christian, severely beat him, and even attempted to set him on fire. A few months earlier, another Muslim mob burned a Christian couple alive inside a kiln after they, too, were accused of insulting Islam.
The Christian youth — named Humayun Masih, said to be “mentally unstable” — was imprisoned and charged under section 295-B of Pakistan’s penal code, which prohibits the desecration of the Koran. After the attack on the Christian youth, the Muslim mob, reportedly thousands, rampaged through the neighborhood and set fire to Christian homes and a church. Christians in the region were attacked, and most fled the region; some of the mob was armed and gunshots were heard.
Did you know that Islamic terrorists in Nigeria have killed more than 2,000 people (most of them Christians) so far in 2015? Why isn’t this getting much more attention from the global media?
Since its formation in 2009, Boko Haram has perpetrated the killing of over 10,000 Nigerians, including thousands of Christians. This year alone, over 2,000 people have been killed as a result of the group’s attacks and an estimated 750,000 have fled their homes. While most of the attacks have taken place in northern Nigeria, they have extended to Cameroon and Chad in recent months.
Earlier in July, Muslim extremists ravaged northeastern Nigerian villages, killing nine villagers and burning down 32 churches and about 300 homes, according to Stephen Apagu, chairman of a self-defense group in Borno state’s Askira-Uba local government area.
The Chinese government has been brutally persecuting Bible-believing Christians for decades, but this year things have been taken to an entirely new level. The following is an excerpt from a recent Washington Free Beacon article…
The CCP considers the rising popularity of Christianity as a threat to its dominance, China Aid said, and has used aggressive measures to intimidate members. The Chinese government’s persecution campaign included forced demolition of churches and crosses, the detention and imprisonment of pastors and church members on criminal charges, forcing churches into bankruptcy by confiscating church property and imposing fines, and manipulating state-run media to label house churches as ‘cult’ organizations,” the report said.
A local police force—including 600 SWAT officers and government agents—demolished the cross last year at Salvation Church, a Christian house church in the eastern coastal city of Wenzhou. The officers attacked 14 church members on July 21 and seriously injured five, according to the report.
Zhang Shaojie, former pastor at the Nanle County Christian Church in central China, was sentenced to 12 years in jail and fined after being convicted of “gathering a crowd to disrupt public order” and “fraud.” Zhang mobilized his congregation to petition the government in Beijing after local authorities seized property that the church had set aside for a new building. Local officials responded by detaining some church members and barring their travel to Beijing.
In Nepal, churches cannot buy property, and the new constitution actually bans people from converting to Christianity…
The largely Hindu nation of Nepal has published a draft of a new constitution that would ban religious conversion. Father Silas Bogati, vicar general of the Apostolic Vicariate of Nepal, told Catholic News Service, “Christianity is not recognized as a religion here, unlike Hinduism, Buddhism or Islam. Hence, churches cannot be registered as a legal body, and we cannot buy property,” he added. “We are severely handicapped by this.”
Normally you wouldn’t think of Italy as a place where Christians would not be persecuted, but thanks to Islamic immigration this is rapidly changing…
Accounts of Muslim immigrants taunting and even assaulting Christians in Italy are increasing. Earlier this year, a crucifix was violently destroyed in close proximity to a populated mosque, and a statue of the Virgin Mary was destroyed and urinated on by a group of North Africans in Italy.
Canada is becoming increasingly hostile to Bible-believing Christians, and attacks on churches are becoming more common. Just check out this recent example…
On May 26, a 22-year-old man of Muslim background was charged with alleged hate crimes committed against the St. Catherine of Siena Church and its neighboring elementary school in Mississauga, Ontario. Iqbal Hessan faces five counts of mischief, and over $5,000 in fines. On May 20, the Sacred Heart of Jesus statue that stands in front of the church was covered in black paint and the fingers of its outstretched arms were broken off. Behind the church, graffiti with the words “There is no Jew God” was scrawled across the brick wall along with a drawing of a face labeled “Jewsus.” That vandalism was the fourth time the church was targeted.
10. The United States
If Christians stay in their homes and don’t say anything, normally they don’t get physically persecuted in this country. But in recent years there have been an increasing number of incidents where street preachers and others that do try to actively influence the culture have been violently assaulted. The following is one recent example that happened in Seattle…
Two street preachers were brutally beaten—punched and kicked—by a crowd at a gay pride festival in Seattle and the entire melee was captured on video. The preachers were holding signs reading “Repent or Else” and “Jesus Saves From Sin.” The video shows a group of people initially screaming and threatening the men during Pridefest at the Seattle Space Needle.
Television station KOMO reported that some of the attackers belonged to a group called NOH8.
A group of women tried to steal their signs but were unsuccessful. The video then shows a group of men grabbing onto one of the preacher’s signs and dragging him to the ground. At some point he was punched in the back of the head a number of times while others can be seen kicking the man.
Of course all of this is just the beginning.
In the years ahead, hatred toward Christians is going to continue to increase, and many believers are going to be faced with some extremely difficult choices.
What would you do if you were forced to choose between your job and your relationship with Jesus Christ?
What would you do if you were forced to choose between your life and your relationship with Jesus Christ?
Nearly 2000 years ago, Jesus told us that his followers would be hated and persecuted. So none of this should be any surprise to us. Consider what Jesus had to say in John chapter 15:
“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own. But because you are not of the world, since I chose you out of the world, the world therefore hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My words, they will keep yours also.”
Just like we saw during the times of the early church, sometimes the fire of persecution provides the perfect fuel for the growth of the kingdom of God. And sometimes the persecutors end up becoming extremely radical believers themselves. The following is one particularly miraculous example:
One of our YWAM workers in the Middle East was contacted by a friend earlier this year and they met up and he was introduced to an ISIS fighter who had killed many Christians already. I mean that’s a horrible situation, and admittedly, he was probably on guard,” Gina Fadely, director of Youth With A Mission Frontier Missions, Inc. (YWAM), said during a recent appearance on The Voice of the Martyrs Radio Network.
YWAM, a nonprofit missionary organization active since 1960, describes itself as “a global movement of Christians from many cultures, age groups, and Christian traditions, dedicated to serving Jesus throughout the world.” The Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) is another nonprofit that draws attention to Christians facing persecution around the world.
Fadely, who appeared on the VOM radio program along with Kevin Sutter, another YWAM leader, went on to share that this Islamic State jihadi confessed not only to killing Christians but “that he had actually enjoyed doing so.”
“He told this YWAM leader that he had begun having dreams of this man in white who came to him and said, ‘You are killing my people.’ And he started to feel really sick and uneasy about what he was doing,” Fadely continued. “The fighter said just before he killed one Christian, the man said, ‘I know you will kill me, but I give to you my Bible.’
The Christian was killed and this ISIS fighter actually took the Bible and began to read it. In another dream, Jesus asked him to follow him and he was now asking to become a follower of Christ and to be discipled.”