”Everyone has the right to freedom of thought,conscience and religion;this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief,and freedom ,either alone,or in community with others,and in public or in private,to manifest his religion or belief in teaching,practice ,worship and observance” Article 18,Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
WHAT IS CHRISTIAN PERSECUTION?
Christian Persecution is any hostility, experienced from the world, as a result of one’s identification with Christ. From verbal harassment to hostile feelings, attitudes and actions, believers in areas with severe religious restrictions pay a heavy price for their faith.
Beatings, physical torture, confinement, isolation, rape, severe punishment, imprisonment, slavery, discrimination in education and in employment, and even death are just few examples they experience on the daily basis. According to The Pew Research Center, over 75% of the world’s population live in areas with severe religious restrictions.
Many of these people are Christians. Also, according to the United States Department of State, Christians in more than 60 countries face persecution from their governments or surrounding neighbors simply because of their belief in the person of Jesus Christ.
WHERE IT OCCURS?
In the United States, it’s easy for believers to take for granted the rights they so regularly enjoy. From praying and worshiping in public to attending Sunday worship services, practice of one’s faith is generally accepted in America.
But this isn’t the case in many nations such as North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Mali, Syria, etc. in which religion, itself, is banned or where one faith system is permitted and touted, with all others being continually denigrated.
The persecution is so severe in many localities, Christians are systematically targeted and mistreated because of their religious beliefs. According to The Pew Research Center, The Economist, Christians today are the most persecuted religious group in the world.
WHERE CHRISTIAN PERSECUTION IS WORST
Every year, we release our annual “World Watch List,” a ranking of 50 countries that exposes the places Christians are most persecuted across the globe. World Watch List includes individuals in all Christian denominations within an entire nation.
INDEX OF CHRISTIAN PERSECUTION IN THE MOST UNFRIENDLY COUNTRIES
According to this graph, the statistic shows the index of the persecution of Christians in the top unfriendly countries around the world 2013. North Korea is the country with the strongest suppression of Christians with an index value of 87.
The survey for the World Watch List included various aspects of religious freedom: the legal and official status of Christians, the actual situation of Christians living in the country, regulations from the state as well as factors that can undermine the freedom of religion in a country.
WHY IT OCCURS?
AUTHORITARIAN GOVERNMENTS SEEK TO CONTROL ALL RELIGIOUS THOUGHT AND EXPRESSION
There are variety of reasons why Christians are persecuted. One of the reason it occurs, is when severe abuse of Christians takes place under the authoritarian government.
In the case of North Korea and other Communist countries, authoritarian governments seek to control all religious thought and expression as part of a more comprehensive determination to control all aspects of political and civic life.
These governments regard some religious groups as enemies of the state because they hold religious beliefs that may challenge loyalty to the rulers.
HOSTILITY TOWARDS NONTRADITIONAL AND MINORITY RELIGIOUS GROUPS
Another reason why Christians are persecuted is hostility towards nontraditional and minority religious groups. For example, in Niger more than 98 percent of the population are Muslims and hostility comes more from society than from the government.
Historically, Islam in West Africa has been moderate, but in the last 20 years dozens of Islamic associations have emerged, like the Izala movement which aims to restrict the freedom of ‘deviant Muslims’ and minority religious groups like Christians.
THE LACK OF BASIC HUMAN RIGHTS
The lack of basic human rights is another significant part of persecution in some countries. For instance, in Eritrea violations such as lack of freedom of expression, assembly, religious belief and movement; extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, extended incommunicado detention, torture and indefinite national service cause many Eritreans to flee the country.
In 1966, the United Nations developed the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights in addtion to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 18 of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights focuses on four elements of religious freedom:
- Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.
- No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice.
- Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health, or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.
- The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to have respect for the liberty of parents and, when applicable, legal guardians to ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions
The Bible calls us to be advocates of human rights. Psalm 82:3 says “Stand up for those who are weak and for those whose fathers have died. See to it that those who are poor and those who are beaten down are treated fairly.” As Christians we need to see that all people are entitled to basic human rights.
WHY WE SERVE PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS?
As Christians in the free world, we are to take stand for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ. It is a simple matter of compassion and justice to speak up for the suffering (Zechariah 7:9, Luke 11:42, Matthew 25:35-36). In following Christ’s example, we are to show mercy to those who are suffering, especially those in the household of faith (I Corinthians 12:26-27).