Monday, November 20, 2006

Two Hundred Million Persecuted

Two hundred million Christians are persecuted worldwide. 171,000 of them died at the hands of their persecutors in 2005/2006, in a 12-month period, slaughtered for believing in Jesus Christ.

One hundred years ago, 34,000 Christians were killed off for their faith. 100 years ago, the world's population was 1.65 billion; today it is 6.5 billion. That is a 3.9 % increase. If the persecution rate stayed the same, then only 132,600 people ought to have been murdered for being Christian. Clearly, the rate of killing Christians is increasing. And I bet you thought that had stopped with the fall of the Roman empire and the feeding of Christians to the lions.

Who is persecuting Christians?

Some countries do it as a matter of government policy. Others turn a blind eye to the local religious groups and vigilantes who hunt down Christians. Communists do it, as belief in Jesus Christ is a threat to their existence. Muslims do it. Hindus do it. Buddhists do it (yes, Buddhists). Even fellow Christians do it.

Eritrea, a Communist example:

President Isaias Afewerki, who leads a Marxist-style government, ordered all churches closed back in 2002, except Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Evangelical Lutheran, and ended all religious practices but Islam. Christian businesses have also been raided and closed. Anyone who believes in Jesus Christ and practices their faith faces imprisonment, torture, disappearance, and death.

The Eritrean government punished popular gospel singer Helen Berhane for not renoucing her faith by reportedly closing her up in a metal shipping container at Mai-Serwa military camp. (From The Voice of the Martyrs May 2006)

Chhattisgarh, India, a Hindu example:

Christians complained to the Bamhni village council about a local politician, with ties to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), harassing them. Enraged at this complaint, he stood up in front of the Council, slapped several Christians, beat up four of them, shoved a woman against a wall, and kicked a pregnant woman in the stomach. The Council sat and did nothing. The Christians fled to the local police station. The police refused to listen. Their persecutor and those who watch and do nothing remain free, while they huddle in fear, unable to worship their faith freely like you and me.

Pakistan, a Muslim example:

On May 8, 1998, Pakistani police arrested Ranjha Masih for allegedly damaging an Islamic signboard. In April 2003 -- 5 years later -- they got around to sentencing him: life in prision. On November 10, 2006, they acquitted him on appeal for lack of evidence. What's the problem, you may ask, the courts eventually did the right thing. Well, for the last 8 years, he has languished in solitary confinement, being threatened by guards and prisoners to convert to Islam, has now received death threats, and went into hiding upon his release (due on the 14th, as he had to wait for 4 days for bureaucrats to do their thing) to protect him from Muslim vigilantes. All this because he is a Christian and hasn't kept it a secret.

Over sixty countries around the world persecute Christians, persecute, beat up men, kick pregnant women, torture, terrorize children, confine in unlit spaces alone, threaten, disappear, and kill 3% of the world's population simply for believing in Jesus Christ. Did you know?

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