Opinion  |  

Every five minutes, a Christian is put to death somewhere in the world

– and persecution against Christians is set to rise this year!

ISIS burned down a Catholic Church and killed at least 178 people in the South Phillipines this January. This month, Fulani Militia destroyed 100 homes and killed 52 people in Southern Nigeria. In France in February alone there had been a record 47 documented attacks on Churches and religious sites. China has seen a sharp increase in their Communist Government opposition to religion in the last few years, and there has been a rise in attacks against Christian pastors by Hindus in India.

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Where is the outcry? Where are the prayer vigils – and where is the international support?

It is important to compassionately respond to the Christchurch massacre, but to also look at a wider issue …

I mourn with the families of the 49 people shot in the New Zealand mosque attacks earlier this month. To shoot someone while they pray is a cowardly act, and I am glad communities came together to support one another in their time of need.

I  do however think it is important to ask why the world disproportionately responded to this atrocity but does not even publicise the abhorrent daily crimes against Christians globally.

It is important to compassionately respond to the Christchurch massacre, but to also look at a wider issue: Are Christians the victims of violence more than other groups – and why does the media disproportionately respond to attacks against some groups and not others (especially Christians)?

In fact, according to the International Society for Human Rights – a secular organisation – 80% of all religious freedom violations in the world today are directed against Christians. An International Policy Council recently noted the persecution of Christians by Muslims heightened during Easter.

As we approach Easter, we need to be vigilant in praying for our fellow brothers and sisters in faith. For if one part of the body of believers suffers, we all suffer. I call on you to also pray that the freedoms we enjoy in our democracy – as fragile as they are – remain protected and respected by all.

Christians remain one of the most persecuted religious groups in the world. While Christian persecution takes many forms, it is defined as any hostility experienced as a result of identification with Jesus Christ. Christian torture remains an issue for believers throughout the world including the risk of imprisonment, loss of home and assets, physical torture, beheadings, rape and even death as a result of their faith.

Every five minutes, a Christian is put to death somewhere in the world.

During the past 15 years, 1.6 million people have been murdered for their faith in Christ.

According to Open Doors USA research and World Watch List, 215 million Christians experience high levels of persecution in the countries on the List.

During the World Watch List 2018 reporting period:

  • 3,066 Christians were killed;
  • 1,252 Christians were abducted;
  • 1,020 Christians were raped or sexually harassed; and
  • 793 churches were attacked.

According to advocates and human rights specialists, Islamic oppression fuels Christian persecution in 8 of the top 10 countries.

Every month:

  • 255 Christians are killed;
  • 104 are abducted;
  • 180 Christian women are raped, sexually harassed or forced into marriage;
  • 66 churches are attacked, and
  • 160 Christians are detained without trial and imprisoned.

A 2016 study revealed that 900,000 Christians were killed in that year alone!

This is a humanitarian crisis on a global scale. The atrocities Christians are facing under persecution are crimes against humanity. This is cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment and may even be classified as torture and genocide.

The violent persecution and killings of Christians are being perpetuated on a daily, global scale, often pushed by political agendas – through government sanctioned acts directly against Christians who are religious minorities in their country of dwelling.

Release International warns that the persecution of Christians worldwide is set to rise in 2019 – and it’s calling on the United States to do more to help. Release International, a UK based charity that helps supports persecuted Christians around the world and a partner organisation of Voice of the Martyrs, warns that this year, particularly in China, India, and Nigeria, persecution against Christians is rising.

“These are countries that have long been on the list but we’re seeing an upwards curve, an alarming rise in persecution,” stated Andrew Boyd, Release International spokesman.

“Release International has been doing this work for 50 years,” Boyd added.

Every five minutes, a Christian is put to death somewhere in the world.

“I have no doubt that persecution is increasing and it is alarming and the contexts are different. You have militant Islam in Nigeria; China, which is communism; India, which is militant Hinduism; North Korea which is a weird blend of communism and Emperor worship. There is an increasing intolerance and it’s being played out in violence and we know it because of the reports that are coming from our partners on the ground.”

“I’m very concerned about the current trend in the Western world,” Wybo Nicolai told Eternity during an Australia visit. Nicolai works with Open Doors’ Field Leadership team, and he helped create the World Watch List in 1991. Measuring the factors behind persecution as well as the individual freedom of Christians within particular countries, the list has become an annual summary of the worst places on earth to be a Christian.

“I fear that we are at the brink of losing freedom of religion in this part of the world,” shared Nicolai, referring to Australia and other Western societies such as the UK or France.

“I am not optimistic about what is going on. This could be the last decade where we are still enjoying full freedom of religion.”

In 2017, one of the creators of an annual global report about Christian persecution warned that countries such as Australia might soon be included on it for the first time. We must remain vigilant.

As a refugee child whose family escaped persecution under Communism, I am extremely passionate about standing with our brothers and sisters who are hurting and suffering.

I am also mindful of the fragility of our freedoms within our democratic political construct.

It will take all of us together to uphold, protect and champion the freedoms we already have and to ensure the adherence to basic universal human rights standards of respecting the dignity of all persons. We all have a role to play in protecting the freedoms of religion, the freedom of association, conscience and belief as spelled out in Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Andrea Tokaji is a trained international human rights lawyer advocate (JD, GDLP, LLM), and a lecturer in business, law and community development. She also is undertaking her PhD at Notre Dame University Law School. As a child refugee, Andrea is extremely passionate about advocating for the rights of the vulnerable, particularly persecuted minorities.

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