Christian persecution has occurred from the very beginnings of Christianity and continues today. Currently, more than 200 million Christians around the globe suffer unjust and illegal imprisonment, abuse and sometimes death at the hands of corrupt officials and regimes because of their faith.
- 1 Statistics
- 2 Ancient Rome
- 3 Middle Ages
- 4 Reformation Europe
- 5 Modern world
- 5.1 Africa
- 5.2 Asia
- 5.3 Europe
- 5.4 North America
- 5.5 Oceania
- 6 See also
- 7 Further reading
- 8 References
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. Between 2005 and 2015, over 900,000 Christians were martyred for their faith. According to Open Doors USA in January 2018, at least 215 million Christians globally face severe persecution, and according to Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), over 500 million Christians face persecution. According to Pew Research Center, restrictions on religious liberty increased in 2016 for the second year in a row, with Christianity being the most affected. 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. A 2017 report by Pew Research, concerning 2014 and 2015, yielded similar findings.
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. As recorded between November 1, 2015, to October 31, 2016, Pakistan had the largest number of Christians killed and churches attacked. 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."
According to a 2015–2017 ACN study, Christians comprised 75% of all the victims of religious persecution around the globe. According to the news agency Fides, at least 447 Roman Catholic missionaries alone were killed from 2000 through 2017.
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, while the Great Persecution under Diocletian and Galerius was the last and worst persecution campaign against Christianity.
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.
Persecution generally ended in the Roman Empire in 313 A.D., with the Edict of Milan.
- See also: Protestant Reformation
In the 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. Christians in the Middle East suffer from particularly strong persecution, and according to the Christian organization Open Doors in 2018, the number of professing Christians in the Middle East is declining and almost on the verge of disappearing.
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.
Algeria is predominantly Muslim, like every other North African country. It is a crime in the country to "incite a Muslim to change his religion," and Christians have been persecuted for sharing the gospel with others.
The Coptic Orthodox church is the largest Christian group in Egypt. Majority of the violence against Christians in the 1990s were from Islamic extremists. However, there have been some incidents of violence against Christians due to communal tensions. In 2007, Coptic Christians in Egypt were attacked by some Muslim rioters.
Northern Nigeria is predominantly Muslim, and the northern Nigerian states officially ascribe to Sharia Law.
In addition to persecution from the local government and society, Islamic terrorist groups, such as Boko Haram, also persecute Christians. One notable incident of Christian persecution occurred in June 2018, when militant Muslim Fulani herdsmen murdered at least 200 Nigerian Christians in four days.
- Main article: Christians in Sudan
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. 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. 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. 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.
The Chinese government forces all practicing religions in the country, including Christianity, to conform to the nation's communist ideology.
Chinese president Xi Jinping is very opposed to Christianity. In 2017, after Islamic extremists killed two Chinese Christian missionaries, rather than protect Christians, the Chinese government enacted further persecutions against Christianity. That same year, the Chinese government made it illegal for Christian parents to take their children to church. 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 Jinping. In April 2018, the Chinese government banned online sales of Bibles, among other actions against Christians.
In 2018, it was reported that the level of persecution against Christians in China was at its highest level since Mao Zedong.
- 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. In India, Christians have faced repeated attacks from Hindus. Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two sons, aged 8 and 10, were burned to death in Orissa in 1999 by Hindus. In 2007, Hindus attacked Christians in the state of Orissa. Ninety-five churches were destroyed in the attack.
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. Purnama, a Christian, was found guilty of blaspheming Islam in May 2017 and was sentenced to two years in prison.
- Main article: Christians in Iran
For a more detailed treatment, see Genocide of Christians by ISIS.
Persecution of the country's Christian minority has increased dramatically since the 2003 American invasion of Iraq. Christian archbishops were abducted in January 2005  and February 2008. 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.
- Main article: Religion and Atheism in North Korea
There are approximately 12,000 practicing Christians in North Korea. Christians often face torture, imprisonment, and are often murdered. According to human rights organizations, outside the officially sanctioned churches, Christians in North Korea can face harsh penalties.
- See also: Persecution of Christians in Pakistan
Christians in Pakistan have come under increasing attack in recent years. In 2004, three Christians were killed due to attacks by Islamists. Several Christian leaders in Baluchestan received threats. The Blasphemy Laws of Pakistan under Section 295 of the Pakistan Penal Code is used as a tool for Christian persecution. Some of the madrassas in Pakistan promote Islamic terrorism. President Pervez Musharraf recently in a speech called for scrutiny of the Blasphemy laws and to reform the madrassas. 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.
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.
- Main article: Christians in Syria
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. In 2007, one German and two Turkish Christians were killed by Islamic extremists in Southeast Turkey.
- Main article: Religion and Atheism in Vietnam
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. On July 21, 2004, the Bulgarian police force invaded the Bulgarian Orthodox churches across the nation and forcibly dragged out over 160 priests.
In 2016, the French Senate passed a bill making it illegal to post pro-life information on the internet. In February 2017, both houses of the French parliament passed the bill, with the National Assembly's more severe and broad wording ultimately being adopted. As of March 2017, the bill was being reviewed by France's Constitutional Council. Regardless, this law would effectively criminalize the freedom of speech (at least on the internet) of those who support the true human right to life for unborn human beings, and it illustrates the opposition to equal rights in the country. 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.
Germany's government – like the governments of numerous other European countries – strongly opposes homeschooling, and homeschooling has been illegal in the country since the Third Reich enacted a law on this matter in 1938. The German government bans homeschooling because it argues it must "counteract the development of religious and philosophically motivated parallel societies," something which nullifies religious freedom and parental control. In 2013, for example, German authorities confiscated four homeschooled children from a Christian family who homeschooled in order to give their children a Christian education – the German government did this simply because the parents were not sending their children to the government school. In 2008, a German homeschooling family traveled to the U.S. and applied for asylum, something which they were guaranteed in 2014.
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.
In 2010, a Christian street preacher was arrested for causing "harassment, alarm or distress" by calling homosexuality a sinful practice according to biblical teachings. In 2015, another street preacher was fined for calling homosexuality an abomination.
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.
In 2014, the UK government banned the teaching of creationism in every school that receives government funding. 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." In 2018, the UK Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills gave a Christian school its lowest ranking possible for quality of learning because it taught creationism and integrated its biblical values into its curriculum (aka. giving its students a Christian education, as a Christian school). These are only a few of many examples of social persecution in the West, regarding 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."
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."
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.
In December 2017, the London Assembly called on its mayor "to clarify the powers available to [police] to arrest and prosecute" pro-life activists, claiming with no evidence that the "anti-choice campaigners" engage in “obstruction, intimidation and harassment."
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.
In 2017, the Canadian government chose to ban employers who oppose abortion or homosexual "marriage" from being able to receive summer job grants for students, and in March 2018, the Canadian House of Commons voted 207–93 against reversing the requirement that employers sign an attestation affirming their support for such issues. In January 2018, Prime Minister Trudeau indicated that pro-life speech is not protected speech. When asked on where the Canadian government limits free speech, Trudeau mentioned abortion, stating that "an organization that has the explicit purpose of restricting women’s rights by removing rights to abortion, the right for women to control their own bodies, is not in line with where we are as a government and quite frankly where we are as a society."
In June 2018, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled against an explicitly Christian law school, saying that is was "proportionate and reasonable" for some Canadian law societies to deny accreditation to the school's graduates because the school opposed homosexuality due to its Christian values.
In 2018, Canadian activist Bill Whatcott faced being unjustly sentenced to two years in prison for what his persecutors claimed was his committing "Wilful [sic] Promotion of Hatred against an identifiable group" – AKA passing out pamphlets at a 2016 "gay pride" parade that shared the Christian message that homosexuality is a sin and that repenting of all sin leads to "the free gift of eternal life."
The New Democratic Party government of Alberta heavily promoted the homosexual agenda in the state's education system, such as forcing Christian schools to create Gay Straight Alliance Clubs even if only one student wanted one, and threatened to defund religious schools if they do not remove religious content from their curriculum.
Persecution mainly exists in ridicule, liberal bias, bigotry and/or religious discrimination of traditional Christian family values by Hollywood. If this is further tolerated, there is a distinct possibility that violence against Christians could be next. 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, threats, etc.) for holding on to their sincerely-held beliefs and refusing to bow down to the homosexual agenda.
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." David Limbaugh says, "This anti-Christian bias manifests itself in unflattering portrayals of Christians in Hollywood films and entertainment television."
In a government report released in 2016, Martin R. Castro, the chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, claimed 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."
In 2014, Houston mayor Annise Parker, a leftist and the first openly-homosexual mayor of the city, illegally issued subpoenas on pastors, ordering them to turn over sermons concerning homosexuality.
On October 1, 2017, a homosexual coffee shop owner kicked several Christians out of his shop because he claimed their very presence "offended" him. Leftist organizations which regularly make demands for Christians to be forced to serve homosexuals with no exceptions, such as the ACLU, hypocritically remained silent on this incident. In one reported instance (out of many), the owners of a Pennsylvania bridal shop chose to close their business because of threats from homosexual activists.
Christianity is increasingly coming under attack at public education institutions. For example, in October 2017, Wayne State University, a public institution, de-recognized InterVarsity Christian Fellowship as the student group required its members to be Christians.
The owner of the Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado, Jack Phillips, has come under repeated assault for his non-compliance with state-imposed liberal ideology. After winning a Supreme Court case (on very narrow grounds) protecting his religious freedom with regards to being forced to violate his conscience by corrupt Colorado state officials, other left-wing groups, including satanists and transgender people, jokingly requested cakes expressing their anti-Christian points of view, and he even was sued for this with the willing assistance of the same state officials who have been illegally persecuting him in deliberate ignorance of the Supreme Court ruling.
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.
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 wrongly taken away by the Charities Registration Board due to its stance on marriage.
- U.S Department of State, "International Religious Freedom" annual reports, the most detailed guide to conditions in every country; annual 2001-2008
- Persecution, By David Limbaugh
- International Persecution of Christians
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- Multiple references:
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- "... in 391 AD, Christianity became the official, and only, state religion of the empire." The Legacy of Rome
List of Catholic martyrs of the English Reformation (en.wikipedia.org) and
List of Protestant martyrs of the English Reformation (en.wikipedia.org)
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- Persecution Of Christians Around The World
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- Multiple references:
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- Multiple references:
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- A submission to the United Nations Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review: India
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- Archbishop abducted in Iraq
- Iraqi Chaldean archbishop seized
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- Eyewitness: Christianity in North Korea
- North Korea
- Religious freedom update - Pakistan
- Violent persecution set to rise in 2017
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- One German and two Turkish Christians killed in Southeast Turkey
- Bulgarian Christians under attack from skinheads and ultra-nationalists
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- Multiple references:
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- Multiple references:
Laurence, Lianne (June 15, 2018). Canada’s top court rules against Christian law school: LGBT ‘rights’ trump religious freedom. LifeSiteNews. Retrieved June 17, 2018.
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- Multiple references:
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- Multiple references:
- Van Maren, Jonathon (October 15, 2018). Alberta’s leftist govt. has forced Christian schools to adopt LGBT agenda or be destroyed. LifeSiteNews. Retrieved October 16, 2018.
- Alberta govt. to defund Bible-based schools, refuses to explain how they violate ‘diversity’. LifeSiteNews (from the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms). October 15, 2018. Retrieved October 16, 2018.
- Alberta Government demands that independent schools renounce their religious policies. Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms. September 27, 2018. Retrieved October 16, 2018.
- Survey: Americans Believe Religious Values Are 'Under Attack' Anti-Defamation League, November 14, 2008
- [Brad Pitt proclaims he is for gay marriage and against traditional American Christians, August 2009]
- see David Hinckley, "Is Hollywood anti-Christian?" New York Daily News May 15th 2009
- The Media and Hollywood War Against Christianity NewsMax, October 2, 2003
- Showalter, Brandon (September 9, 2016). Religious Freedom Is 'Code Word' for Bigotry, Christian Supremacy, US Civil Rights Commissioner Says. The Christian Post. Retrieved January 9, 2017.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Starnes, Todd (October 14, 2014). City of Houston demands pastors turn over sermons. Fox News. Retrieved January 9, 2017.
- Starnes, Todd (October 29, 2014). Houston mayor drops bid to subpoena pastors' sermons. Fox News. Retrieved January 9, 2017.
- Hallowell, Billy (August 3, 2015). Houston Gov’t Subpoenaed Pastors’ Sermons. Now, They’re Fighting Back. The Blaze. Retrieved January 9, 2017.
- Multiple references:
- Ernst, Douglas (October 6, 2017). Christian activists booted from Seattle coffee shop: ‘I’m gay. You have to leave’. The Washington Times. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
- Taylor, Sarah (October 7, 2017). Gay coffee shop owner kicks Christians out of cafe, goes on vulgar rant — it was all caught on video. The Blaze. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
- Pandolfo, Chris (October 9, 2017). VIDEO: Gay coffee shop owner kicks Christians out of his shop. Conservative Review. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
- Caralle, Katelyn (October 9, 2017). Christian Pro-Life Group Kicked Out of Seattle Coffee Shop by Gay Owner. The Washington Free Beacon. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
- Randall, Amber (October 10, 2017). ACLU Silent On Gay Coffee Shop Owner Who Kicked Out Christians [VIDEO]. The Daily Caller. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
- Tennant, Michael (March 12, 2018). Christian-owned Bridal Shop Closes Under LGBT Threats. The New American. Retrieved March 12, 2018.
- Parke, Caleb (March 7, 2018). Christian group sues Michigan university after it is kicked off campus. Fox News. Retrieved March 7, 2018.
After a lawsuit threat, the university allowed back the Christian group:
- Parke, Caleb (March 9, 2018). Wayne State reverses school's decision to boot Christian group off campus. Fox News. Retrieved March 9, 2018.
- Multiple references:
- Swoyer, Alex (August 15, 2018). Christian baker vindicated by SCOTUS back in court for not baking a gender transitioning cake. The Washington Times. Retrieved August 15, 2018.
- Kirkwood, R. Cort (August 16, 2018). Christian Baker Sued Again. The New American. Retrieved August 16, 2018.
- Freiburger, Calvin (August 15, 2018). Jack Phillips back in court as Colorado demands he bake ‘gender-transition’ cake. LifeSiteNews. Retrieved August 18, 2018.
- Multiple references:
- Urban, Rebecca (July 27, 2017). Jesus unwelcome in schoolyard crackdown. The Australian. Retrieved August 20, 2017.
- Caldwell, Felicity (July 27, 2017). Unholy row over religious instruction in Queensland schools. Brisbane Times. Retrieved August 20, 2017.
- Goins-Phillips, Tré (July 27, 2017). Australian state faces backlash after proposing school-wide ‘Jesus ban’ in name of ‘inclusivity’. The Blaze. Retrieved August 20, 2017.
- McPhee, Sam (July 26, 2017). 'It's a massive assault on free speech': Christmas cards and the word 'Jesus' could be BANNED in schoolyards in a bid to increase religious inclusiveness. Daily Mail. Retrieved August 20, 2017.
- Ham, Ken (August 19, 2017). Is Jesus Not Welcome in Australian Schools?. Answers in Genesis. Retrieved August 20, 2017.
- 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.
- Ham, Ken (September 12, 2017). New Zealand Group Supporting Traditional Marriage Loses Charity Status. Answers in Genesis. Retrieved September 12, 2017.