Persecution a global threat to Christianity

Christianity is in danger of ceasing to be a truly global faith as increasing numbers of its followers flee violence and persecution across swaths of the Middle East and Africa, according to a new report.

“Christians are fast disappearing from entire regions – most notably a huge chunk of the Middle East but also whole dioceses in Africa. In large part, this migration is the product of an ethnic cleansing motivated by religious hatred,” says Persecuted and Forgotten?, published on Tuesday by the Catholic campaign group, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).

Christianity was “changing from being a global faith to a regional one, with the faithful increasingly absent from ever-widening areas”.

Its latest report, covering the past two years, concludes that the difficulties facing Christians have worsened in 15 out of 19 countries under review.

Militant Islamism is the main – and increasing – threat, but Christians have also been targeted by extremists of other faiths and totalitarian regimes such as North Korea.

The report repeats claims that Christians are being “driven out of [the church’s] ancient biblical heartland” of the Middle East, saying they are “on course to disappear from Iraq possibly within five years – unless emergency help is provided at an international level on a massively increased scale”.

In Africa – described as “the one continent which until now has been the church’s brightest hope for the future” – the rise of militant Islamic groups in countries such as Nigeria, Kenya and Sudan is destabilising Christian presence, the report says.

It says that Christians are the most persecuted faith group in the world, citing the Frankfurt-based International Society for Human Rights 2012 report, which estimated that 80% of all acts of religious discrimination were against Christians.

The Centre for the Study of Global Christianity in the US estimates that 100,000 Christians die every year, although some question the legitimacy of this figure. Continue reading


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