Pew Research, reported in 2015 that Christians were harassed by governments or social groups in more countries than any other religious group.
- Stacy Long
Media and liberal narratives like to portray Christianity as a dominating, imperialist power over native religions and societies. The truth is that, out of any religious group, Christians around the world are the most likely to suffer oppression and persecution. This is not just opinion or hearsay, but a hard fact, gleaned from up-to-date research from leading sources.
For example, Pew Research, reported in 2015 that Christians were harassed by governments or social groups in more countries than any other religious group. To put the numbers into perspective, Christians faced harassment in 102 out of 198 countries studied. In comparison, Jews were harassed in 77 countries, which was a seven-year high for the religion. Muslims were harassed in 99 countries. Looking at these numbers shows that Christians are the most widely persecuted religious group in the world.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom even described the past year as marking the worst level of persecution in modern times, largely because of attacks on Christians fueled by groups such as ISIS and Boko Haram. The USCIRF 2015 annual report, only recently released on April 30, documents incidents of persecution giving rise to that characterization. USCIRF chair Dr. Karen Lantos Swett has stated that attacks on “fundamental religious freedom” have reached "unprecedented levels particularly in the Middle East with the violent attacks by ISIS."
The widespread extent of persecution against Christians and descriptions of increased persecution makes sense when it is realized that many countries with the highest levels of hostility against Christians also have the fastest growing populations. As these populations grow, so will the number of Christians present to be persecuted more frequently and in more locations. Thus, persecution of Christians can be expected to increase along with population.
Of eleven cities expected to grow to 10 million people by 2030, eight are in countries included on the Open Doors 2015 World Watch List, which names the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian. Those eight fast-growing large cities are in countries currently ranked by the World Watch List are as follows:
Pakistan, ranked #8 for extreme persecution
Vietnam, ranked #16 for severe persecution
India, ranked #21 for severe persecution
China, ranked #29 for moderate persecution
Colombia, ranked #35 for moderate persecution
Looking more closely at Pew’s statistics on the world’s two most populous countries, China has the largest number of government restrictions on religion, and India has the highest number of social restrictions on religion. Of course, not all countries with a great deal of persecution against Christians have huge populations. In Myanmar, Egypt, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Russia, society and government together impose very high levels of religious restrictions.
While growing population and region are factors contributing to incidents of persecution, they are not the only variables. As the data above demonstrates, persecution of Christians is widespread and reaches far beyond the influence of just one or two circumstances. It also merits far more attention than either the media or the government devotes to the real and intense sufferings of Christians worldwide.