Christian persecution

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Christian persecution has occurred from the very beginnings of Christianity and continues today. Currently more than 200 million Christians around the globe suffer imprisonment, abuse and sometimes death because of their faith.[1]


In 2015 and 2016, the Center for Studies on New Religions was reported that Christians were the most persecuted of any type of group in the world, with almost 600 million Christians being affected by persecution and 90,000 killed in 2016 alone.[2][3] Between 2005 and 2015, over 900,000 Christians were martyred for their faith.[4] According to a 2017 report by Open Doors USA, the persecution of Christians is growing and is being seen in an increasing number of countries.[5] A 2017 report by Pew Research, concerning 2014 and 2015, yielded similar findings.[6]

The countries with the most extreme persecution of Christians, as of 2017, tend to be Muslim nations, even though the most anti-Christian nation is North Korea.[7] As recorded between November 1, 2015, to October 31, 2016, Pakistan had the largest number of Christians killed and churches attacked.[7] The U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom reported in May 2017 that religious freedom around the world was "worsening in both the depth and breadth of violations."[8]

According to a 2015–2017 Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) study, Christians comprised 75% of all the victims of religious persecution around the globe.[9]

Despite strong persecution in the Middle East, thousands of Muslims are turning to Christ.[10]

Ancient Rome

Early Christian persecution was severe in the ancient period of the Roman Empire. Christians were most commonly executed by crucifixion and being put in arenas with lions. The emperor Nero was one of the most notorious persecutors.

This persecution continued up through the fourth century, when Constantine's Edict of Milan in 313 A.D. promulgated a doctrine of religious tolerance. In 391 A.D., Christianity became the state religion of Rome, gaining strength after Constantine's conquest of Rome from his fellow caesars of the time.[11]

Persecution generally ended in the Roman Empire in 313 A.D., with the Edict of Milan.

Middle Ages

The Waldensians, who followed the Bible alone, rather than the traditions of the Roman Catholic Church, were persecuted for their faith. Other Christians were persecuted during this time.

Reformation Europe

See also: Protestant Reformation

During the Protestant Reformation many martyrs to the faith on both sides were persecuted and killed, most notably Jan Hus, Thomas Cranmer, and William Tyndale, John Fisher and Thomas More.[12]

Modern world

In contemporary period, Christians continue to be attacked by governments in communist countries like China and North Korea, and by hostile religious forces including Muslims in Africa, and by Hindus in India.

While very few Christians are killed for their faith in the West, persecution of Christians has grown in Europe and the Americas since the 20th Century, and it is seen in various ways, such as social, cultural, and legal persecution. In many Western countries, homeschooling, which is popular with many Christians, is illegal.


Large scale rioting and violence between Muslim and Christian communities are common in parts of Africa, such as Nigeria and Sudan.


The Coptic Orthodox church is the largest Christian group in Egypt.[13] Majority of the violence against Christians in the 1990s were from Islamic extremists.[13] However, there have been some incidents of violence against Christians due to communal tensions.[13] In 2007, Coptic Christians in Egypt were attacked by some Muslim rioters.[14]



As with all forms of public assembly, the Chinese Communist Party keeps a tight rein on all religious activity, including those of Christians. While thousands of state-sanctioned churches exist in China, the process for obtaining a permit for a new church is cumbersome, and to be approved, clergy must also take exams over communist ideology.[15] There is a shortage of Chinese-born ministers who would pass state qualification, and Chinese citizens are forbidden by law to worship at churches with foreign-born pastors.[15] For all of the above reasons, the vast majority of Christians in China opt to worship at underground "home churches." Leaders and members of these churches face fines, imprisonment, and confiscation of church property.[16] In some extreme cases, an underground church is labelled a cult, which the CCP uses to justify some of the worst of its persecution, including torture and forced labor.[17]

The Chinese government forces all practicing religions in the country, including Christianity, to conform to the nation's communist ideology.[18]

In 2017, after Islamic extremists killed two Chinese Christian missionaries, rather than protect Christians, the Chinese government enacted further persecutions against Christianity.[19] That same year, the Chinese government made it illegal for Christian parents to take their children to church.[20][21][22] Also in 2017, it was reported that in China's Jiangxi province, the government had a plan of denying important poverty relief packages to Christians unless they replaced images of Jesus they had with images of President Xi Jinping.[23]


See also: Hindu fanatics

Hindus comprise the religious majority in India. Proponents of the Hindutva ideology, often called Hindu fascism, want to convert India into a Hindu nation in which other religions must assimilate to the Hindu religion, race and culture and seek to establish a cultural hegemony of Hinduism at the expense of other religions.[24] In India, Christians have faced repeated attacks from Hindus.[25] Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two sons, aged 8 and 10, were burned to death in Orissa in 1999 by Hindus.[25] In 2007, Hindus attacked Christians in the state of Orissa.[25] Ninety-five churches were destroyed in the attack.[26]


Fundamentalist Islam and Sharia Law have been reported to be gaining influence in Indonesia. He served as Deputy Governor of Jakarta prior to 2014, when Governor Joko Widodo was elected President of Indonesia. Although having an approval rating of 76%, many Indonesians voted against Jakartan Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama in the April 2017 gubernatorial election due to religious factors.[27][28] Purnama, a Christian, was found guilty of blaspheming Islam in May 2017 and was sentenced to two years in prison.[28]


Persecution of the country's Christian minority has increased dramatically since the 2003 American invasion of Iraq. Christian archbishops were abducted in January 2005 [29] and February 2008.[30] The Pope told President George Bush that "Particularly in Iraq, Christian families and communities are feeling increasing pressure from insecurity, aggression and a sense of abandonment."


Myanmar also known as Burma is ruled by a highly repressive, authoritarian military regime. The country was placed under concern by the International Religious Freedom Act in 1999 and a wide array of sanctions are in place for its violations of human rights. Population estimated 6 percent Christianity and rapidly growing. The junta has not allowed permanent foreign religious missions to operate and confiscated all remaining assets since the 1960s. Proselytizing is forbidden, and the printing of Bibles in the country is strictly prohibited. Disobeying the juntu and Burmese Christians will be killed, imprisoned and other human rights violations.[31]

North Korea

There are approximately 12,000 practicing Christians in North Korea.[32] Christians often face torture, imprisonment, and are often murdered.[33] According to human rights organizations, outside the officially sanctioned churches, Christians in North Korea can face harsh penalties.[32]


Christians in Pakistan have come under increasing attack in recent years.[34] In 2004, three Christians were killed due to attacks by Islamists.[34] Several Christian leaders in Baluchestan received threats.[34] The Blasphemy Laws of Pakistan under Section 295 of the Pakistan Penal Code is used as a tool for Christian persecution.[34] Some of the madrassas in Pakistan promote Islamic terrorism.[34] President Pervez Musharraf recently in a speech called for scrutiny of the Blasphemy laws and to reform the madrassas.[34] In Pakistan, Christian mother Asia Bibi remains on death row for a sixth year on a charge of blasphemy, which she denies. Politicians who have tried to defend her or repeal the law have been assassinated. To date, the Supreme Court has seems unable to find judges willing to consider her appeal. A hearing in October was postponed after 150 Muslim clerics issued a fatwa against the court.[35]

In 2017, a Pakistani teenager from a Christian family was beaten to death by his schoolmates from allegedly drinking out of the same water cooler as them, while a nearby teacher did nothing.[36]


In Turkey, there have been incidents of persecution of Christians. In 2006 and 2007, one Catholic Priest and three Protestant evangelists were killed; churches were also attacked.[37] In 2007, one German and two Turkish Christians were killed by Islamic extremists in Southeast Turkey.[38]



In Bulgaria, there have been incidents of persecution of Christians. In 1998, local Church of God in the town of Vratza was attacked by skinheads.[39] On July 21, 2004, the Bulgarian police force invaded the Bulgarian Orthodox churches across the nation and forcibly dragged out over 160 priests.[40]


In 2016, the French Senate passed a bill making it illegal to post pro-life information on the internet, effectively criminalizing the freedom of speech (at least on the internet) of those who support the true human right to life for unborn human beings.[41] As of 2016, the bill is likely to be signed into law by the French Prime Minister. France is already spiritually dead.

While this is a pro-life restriction, rather than an official restriction on Christianity, biblical Christians strongly hold pro-life views based on the Bible, and their freedom to advocate against legalized murder, including on biblical grounds, will be restricted. Also, the law could have a slippery slope and affect churches and Christian denominations.[41]


In 2017, a Swedish local government unit forced a Christian preschool to ban prayer to God under the country's Education Act, but the preschoolers were subsequently instructed to thank the sun and the rain before meals.[42][43][44]

United Kingdom

In 2010, a Christian street preacher was arrested for causing "harassment, alarm or distress" by calling homosexuality a sinful practice according to biblical teachings.[45] In 2015, another street preacher was fined for calling homosexuality an abomination.[46]

A pastor in Northern Ireland was charged and tried for making comments (in 2014) in one of his sermons against Islam that were considered "grossly offensive." Although he was found not guilty (in 2016), he should have never been tried in the first place, as Christians should be able to freely express and advocate their biblically-based theological positions.[47]

In 2016, a teacher at an Anglican school in Oswaldtwistle, Lancashire was harshly criticized for stating on Twitter (in response to another teacher) that "Evolution is not a fact. That’s why it’s called a theory! There’s more evidence that the Bible is true."[48] This is just one of many, many examples of social persecution in the West, concerning numerous subjects, including creation science, the pseudoscientific theory of evolution, and homosexuality.

In early 2017, two Christian street preachers in Bristol were convicted for quoting the King James Bible in public because they supposedly used "threatening or abusive words or behaviour or disorderly behaviour within the hearing or sight of a person . . . and the offence was religiously aggravated."[49][50][51]

In October 2017, Oxford University banned a Christian organization, the Christian Union of Oxford’s Balliol College, from appearing at a fair because it would "alienate" students because of Christianity being an "excuse for homophobia and neo-colonialism."[52]

In November 2017, Tim Farron, a Christian and the former leader of the Liberal Democratic Party who resigned due to the incompatibility of his faith and his position, admitted that social persecution of Christianity is a real thing and that the culture sees it as dangerous.[53]

North America


Like the rest of the West, the Canadian government (currently, the Liberal Party of Canada under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau) has become more hostile towards Christianity. In 2017, a local school district, the Battle River School Division, ordered a Christian school to stop teaching "offensive" passages from the Bible, something that would alter the Christian message and omit key portions of the Bible from being taught.[54][55][56]

United States

Persecution mainly exists in ridicule, liberal bias or religious discrimination of traditional Christian family values by Hollywood[57][58] If this is further tolerated, there is a distinct possibility that violence against Christians could be next.

Don Feder, founder of a group called Jews Against Anti-Christian Defamation, used his condemnation of the 2005 film "V for Vendetta" to say, "It's very much in keeping with what has become Hollywood's standard anti-Christian message – that Christians are hypocritical hate-mongers, with tendencies toward violence, who are waiting to seize the reins of government and persecute unbelievers."[59]

David Limbaugh says, "This anti-Christian bias manifests itself in unflattering portrayals of Christians in Hollywood films and entertainment television."[60]

Numerous Christians, whether business owners or other people, such as Kim Davis or Roy Moore, have been persecuted in various ways (lawsuits, loss of business, arrest, etc.) for holding on to their sincerely-held beliefs and refusing to bow down to the homosexual agenda.

In a government report released in 2016, Martin R. Castro, the chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, stated that "The phrases “religious liberty” and “religious freedom” will stand for nothing except hypocrisy so long as they remain code words for discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, Christian supremacy or any form of intolerance."[61][62][63][64]

In 2014, the mayor of Houston, a leftist and the first openly-homosexual mayor of the city, briefly issued subpoenas on pastors, ordering them to turn over sermons concerning homosexuality.[65][66][67]

On October 1, 2017, a homosexual coffee shop owner kicked several Christians out of his shop because their very presence offended him.[68] Leftist organizations which regularly lobby for Christians to be forced to serve homosexuals with no exceptions, such as the ACLU, remained silent on this incident.[69]



In July 2017, the Queensland Department of Education and Training issued an unofficial policy banning Christmas cards, any reference to Jesus, or anything else that might be seen as Christian evangelizing by primary school students.[70]

Leading up to the 2017 same-sex "marriage" referendum, many Christians and "no" voters were afraid to speak out against legalizing homosexual "marriage" due to the fear of social persecution.[71]

New Zealand

In 2017, Family First, a socially conservative organization that supports marriage being defined as between a man and a woman, had its status as a charitable organization taken away by the Charities Registration Board due to its stance on marriage.[72]

See also

Further reading


  1. International Persecution of Christians
  2. Chiaramonte, Perry (January 6, 2017). Christians the most persecuted group in world for second year: Study. Fox News. Retrieved January 7, 2017.
  3. Williams, Thomas D. (April 16, 2017). Easter 2017, Christians ‘Most Persecuted Group in the World’. Breitbart News. Retrieved April 17, 2017.
  4. Nearly 1 million Christians reportedly martyred for their faith in last decade. Fox News (from The Christian Post). January 17, 2017. Retrieved January 18, 2017.
  5. Chiaramonte, Perry (February 2, 2017). Christian persecution seen in more locations across the globe, new report shows. Fox News. Retrieved February 2, 2017.
  6. Hadro, Matt (April 17, 2017). Pew study: Religious persecution spread to more countries in 2015. The Washington Times. Retrieved April 18, 2017.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Tanner, Georeen (April 14, 2017). Christian persecution: How many are being killed, where they are being killed. Fox News. Retrieved April 14, 2017.
  8. Williams, Thomas D., PhD (May 16, 2017). Report: International Religious Freedom Worsening in both ‘Depth and Breadth’. Breitbart News. Retrieved May 16, 2017.
  9. Williams, Thomas D. (October 16, 2017). Report: 75% of Victims of Religious Persecution Are Christians. Breitbart News. Retrieved October 16, 2017.
  10. Thousands of Muslims reportedly turning to Christ in Middle East. Fox News (from The Christian Post). January 11, 2017. Retrieved January 14, 2017.
  11. "... in 391 AD, Christianity became the official, and only, state religion of the empire." The Legacy of Rome
  12. See
    List of Catholic martyrs of the English Reformation ( and
    List of Protestant martyrs of the English Reformation (
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 Egypt
  14. Egyptian Coptic Christians Attacked by Violent Mobs
  15. 15.0 15.1 [1]
  16. Persecution Of Christians Around The World
  17. Torture testimony of Liu Xianzhi
  18. Martel, Frances (September 7, 2017). Government Christian Leader: ‘Theology Shall Reflect Chinese Culture’. Breitbart News. Retrieved September 12, 2017.
  19. China Ramps Up Christian Persecution After Two Missionaries Are Murdered. CBN News. September 5, 2017. Retrieved September 12, 2017.
  20. Williams, Thomas D. (September 12, 2017). Chinese Gov’t Bans Christian Children from Attending Church, Vows Punishment to Offenders. Breitbart News. Retrieved September 12, 2017.
  21. Hodges, Mark (September 11, 2017). Chinese gov’t bans kids from attending church services. LifeSiteNews. Retrieved September 12, 2017.
  22. Haverluck, Michael F. (September 11, 2017). China: Children not allowed at church. OneNewsNow. Retrieved September 12, 2017.
  23. Martel, Frances (November 14, 2017). China Urges Rural Christians to Replace Jesus Images with Xi Jinping. Breitbart News. Retrieved November 14, 2017.
  24. A submission to the United Nations Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review: India
  25. 25.0 25.1 25.2 Hindu Extremists Attack Indian Churches, Torch Home of Prominent Christian
  26. Communal violence in Kandhamal District, Orissa: India
  27. Cochrane, Joe (April 19, 2017). Jakarta Governor Concedes Defeat in Religiously Tinged Election. The News York Times. Retrieved May 10, 2017.
  28. 28.0 28.1 Hayward, John (May 9, 2017). Jakarta Governor Found Guilty of Blasphemy Against Islam, Jailed for Two Years. Breitbart News. Retrieved May 10, 2017.
  29. Archbishop abducted in Iraq
  30. Iraqi Chaldean archbishop seized
  31. The Demand for Bibles in Burma is Growing Despite Enormous Persecution of Christians Christian Freedom International
  32. 32.0 32.1 Eyewitness: Christianity in North Korea
  33. North Korea
  34. 34.0 34.1 34.2 34.3 34.4 34.5 Religious freedom update - Pakistan
  35. Violent persecution set to rise in 2017
  36. Montgomery, Jack (September 12, 2017). Pakistani Christian Beaten to Death by Muslim Classmates ‘Whilst Teacher Read Newspaper’. Breitbart News. Retrieved September 12, 2017.
  37. Turkey
  38. One German and two Turkish Christians killed in Southeast Turkey
  39. Bulgarian Christians under attack from skinheads and ultra-nationalists
  40. Bulgaria
  41. 41.0 41.1 McMorris, Bill (December 7, 2016). French Senate Passes Pro-Life Website Ban. The Washington Free Beacon. Retrieved January 9, 2017.
  42. Chretien, Claire (June 28, 2017). Gov’t bans prayer to God; Christian preschool forced to thank ‘sun and rain’ for meals instead. LifeSite News. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  43. Hale, Virginia (June 26, 2017). Christian Preschoolers Banned from Saying ‘Amen’, Talking About the Bible. Breitbart News. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  44. Preschoolers in Sweden Banned from Saying 'Amen,' Mentioning the Bible. CBN News. June 29, 2017. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  45. Blake, Heidi (May 2, 2010). Christian preacher arrested for saying homosexuality is a sin. The Telegraph. Retrieved August 10, 2017.
  46. Tufft, Ben (March 29, 2015). Street preacher quoting from the Bible fined for calling homosexuality an 'abomination'. The Independent. Retrieved August 10, 2017.
  47. Turpin, Simon (January 8, 2016). Northern Ireland Pastor Not Guilty of Criticising Islam. Answers in Genesis. Retrieved January 9, 2017.
  48. Turpin, Simon (February 4, 2016). Teacher Ridiculed for Saying Evolution Is Not a Fact. Answers in Genesis. Retrieved January 10, 2017.
  49. Turpin, Simon (March 6, 2017). The Loss of Free Speech in the UK and How We Should React as Christians. Answers in Genesis. Retrieved March 9, 2017.
  50. Weatherbe, Steve (March 2, 2017). Christian street preachers arrested, fined for ‘challenging Muslims,’ ‘homophobia’. LifeSite News. Retrieved August 10, 2017.
  51. Berrien, Hank (August 3, 2017). These British Pastors Were Just Arrested For ‘Challenging Muslims’. The Daily Wire. Retrieved August 10, 2017.
  52. Christian group at Oxford University banned from fair out of fear it would 'alienate' students. Fox News. October 11, 2017. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
  53. Williams, Thomas D. (November 29, 2017). Liberal Democrat Tim Farron Warns That Christians Now Deemed as ‘Dangerous’ and Unsuitable for Politics. Breitbart News. Retrieved November 29, 2017.
  54. Canadian District Bans Christian School from Teaching 'Offensive' Parts of Bible. CBN News. June 22, 2017. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  55. Haskins, Justin (June 24, 2017). Canadian Christian school under attack for teaching ‘offensive’ Bible verses. The Blaze. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  56. Foley, Avery (August 6, 2017). Canada Forces Government Speech and Bans Bible Verses. Answers in Genesis. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  57. Survey: Americans Believe Religious Values Are 'Under Attack' Anti-Defamation League, November 14, 2008
  58. [Brad Pitt proclaims he is for gay marriage and against traditional American Christians, August 2009]
  59. see David Hinckley, "Is Hollywood anti-Christian?" New York Daily News May 15th 2009
  60. The Media and Hollywood War Against Christianity NewsMax, October 2, 2003
  61. Showalter, Brandon (Setpember 9, 2016). Religious Freedom Is 'Code Word' for Bigotry, Christian Supremacy, US Civil Rights Commissioner Says. The Christian Post. Retrieved January 9, 2017.
  62. Kellner, Mark A. (September 8, 2016). ‘Religious freedom,’ ‘liberty’ just ‘code words’ for intolerance, U.S. Civil Rights chairman says. The Washington Times. Retrieved January 9, 2017.
  63. Chairman of U.S. Commission on Civil Rights calls the phrases ‘religious liberty’ and ‘religious freedom’ code words for discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, and Christian supremacy. Religion News Service. September 8, 2016. Retrieved January 9, 2017.
  64. Carter, Joe (September 13, 2016). U.S. Civil Rights Commission: ‘Religious Freedom’ Is Code Word for Racism, Homophobia, and ‘Christian Supremacy’. The Gospel Coalition. Retrieved January 9, 2017.
  65. Starnes, Todd (October 14, 2014). City of Houston demands pastors turn over sermons. Fox News. Retrieved January 9, 2017.
  66. Starnes, Todd (October 29, 2014). Houston mayor drops bid to subpoena pastors' sermons. Fox News. Retrieved January 9, 2017.
  67. Hallowell, Billy (August 3, 2015). Houston Gov’t Subpoenaed Pastors’ Sermons. Now, They’re Fighting Back. The Blaze. Retrieved January 9, 2017.
  68. Multiple references:
  69. Randall, Amber (October 10, 2017). ACLU Silent On Gay Coffee Shop Owner Who Kicked Out Christians [VIDEO]. The Daily Caller. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
  70. Multiple references:
  71. Zaimov, Stoyan (September 29, 2017). 'No' Voters on Gay Marriage in Australia Afraid of Being Branded 'Bigots,' Mocked If They Speak Out. The Christian Post. Retrieved October 19, 2017.
  72. Ham, Ken (September 12, 2017). New Zealand Group Supporting Traditional Marriage Loses Charity Status. Answers in Genesis. Retrieved September 12, 2017.