Christianity is the most persecuted religion in the world, according to a new study from The Center for Studies on New Religions. The study found that over 90,000 Christians were murdered in 2016, 30 percent of whom at the hands of Islamic terrorists.
The findings are unsurprising, as there has been a devastating upward trend in such persecution. According to the Christian advocacy group Open Doors, there has been a rise in the global prosecution of Christians for the last four years.
"Religious nationalism is sweeping the globe according to figures released today as part of the Open Doors 2017 World Watch List,” said Open Doors UK & Ireland CEO Lisa Pearce.
“Persecution levels have been rising rapidly across Asia and the Indian subcontinent, driven by extreme religious nationalism which is often tacitly condoned, and sometimes actively encouraged, by local and national governments," she added.
According to Open Doors' website, North Korea leads the world in persecution of Christians, a ranking the country has held since 2002. There are only an estimated 300,000 Christians residing in North Korea, which has a population of about 25.4 million people. Islamic extremism fuels much else of the global persecution.
"All top 10 countries with the worst persecution of Christians are in Asia and Africa. Somalia ranks second on the list, followed by Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Sudan, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Yemen, and Eritrea," notes Catholic News Agency.
“If a Christian is discovered in Somalia, they are unlikely to live to see another day,” stated Pearce.
In Pakistan, the country ranked fourth in Christian persecution, CNA reports, "more Christians were recorded as killed for their faith in 2016 than any other country. There are almost 4 million Christians there amidst the population of over 196 million."
Below are the listed key findings from Open Doors' 2016 research:
- North Korea is number one again, as it has been since 2002.
- Worldwide, persecution of Christians has risen for the fourth year in a row, with Asia, particularly, showing a rapid rise.
- Pakistan rises to fourth in the list with levels of violence even greater than northern Nigeria.
- As Hindu nationalists batter the churches, India climbs to its highest ever ranking of 15.
- In Laos, Bangladesh, Vietnam and tiny Bhutan, things are getting more difficult for Christians.
- Buddhist nationalism returns Sri Lanka to the top 50.
- Islamic extremism fuels persecution in 14 out of the top 20 countries, and 35 of the top 50.
- Sudan rises to five as President Omar al-Bashir seeks to fulfill his 2011 boast, 'Now we can impose Sharia here.'
- Turkey rises to 37 as President Erdogan uses 2016's failed coup to purge opponents and push the country towards increasing Islamisation.
- Wars in the Middle East continue to catch Christians in the crossfire: war-torn Yemen returns to the top ten, while in Syria and Iraq Christians continue to be targeted by Islamic militants.
Besides their global research, Open Doors also serves persecuted Christians across the globe by supplying Bibles and ministry programs, among other things.