The latest data on the persecution of Christians around the world is disturbing. Unfortunately, getting data from some areas is difficult, but several organizations have worked hard to get numbers that tell us how bad it is. By “Christians,” these organizations mean any group that recognizes Jesus Christ in any form as divine, including Catholics, Mormons, and all denominations.
China is an area where it is hard to get accurate data. According to the “Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life,” there are 67 million “Christians” in China. That includes 9 million Catholics, 23 million “Three-Self Protestants” (the group approved by the government), 35 million independent protestants, and 20,000 “Orthodox Christians.” The current government has been shutting down churches and confiscating their property, so most of the ones listed are meeting as house churches. During the Cultural Revolution in China from 1983 to 1993, the government imprisoned 3,000 Christians, but the current imprisonment rate is estimated to be over ten times that number in 2021 alone.
The second most extensive national persecution of Christians is in Nigeria. In June of 2022, terrorist attacks on Christian churches resulted in 125 deaths and numerous kidnappings. In Nigeria in 2020, 3,530 Christians were murdered, and in 2021, 4,650 were killed during attacks on church services. Kidnappings have increased from 990 in 2020 to 2500 in 2021, with 470 churches attacked. Vietnam and Pakistan have smaller numbers.
It is amazing to note that these numbers far exceed the attacks by the Roman government on Christianity during the first century. We continue to see legal attacks on practicing Christians in the United States. The military has clamped down on chaplains who hold Christian services of any kind. That includes observations of Christmas, Easter, or even Sunday worship. Secular groups can rent facilities on most state universities. The Does God Exist? ministry did that from 1968 until 2019. Now we are told that facilities can not be rented by “Church groups” at the same universities where we used to do lectureships.
Our country’s political struggles have polarized every segment of our culture. Antichristian organizations and the media have assured us that the days when Christianity was socially acceptable are pretty much over. This persecution of Christians may purify us as those who merely want to go to Church social events leave, and the persecuted minority that remains will continue to do the will of God.
— John N. Clayton © 2022
References: Touchstone magazine, November/December 2022, page 12 ,and Wikipedia.