According to the numbers from a Protestant non-governmental organization, Portes ouvertes, over 3,000 Christians were killed for their faith in 2017.
It is a far higher number than in 2016 (1,207), but fortunately it is still far much lower than the 7,106 recorded in 2015. Nigeria takes the lead, with 2,000 killed, followed by the Central African Republic (500) and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (136). The NGO also counts 215 million persecuted Christians.
More precisely, 3,066 Christians were assassinated, according to the numbers from the NGO that only took into account the facts that could be confirmed with absolute certainty.
Beyond Death, Other Forms of Persecution
According to Portes ouvertes, this persecution also comes by way of arbitrary legal decisions, attacks on places of worship, and sexual assault. Last year, believers suffered 796 attacks on churches, 1,922 cases of imprisonment without trial, 1,252 kidnappings, and 1,020 sexual assaults. Based on this data, the NGO considers that one in every twelve Christians suffers “a strong level of persecution”. This persecution is concentrated in 58 countries and “increases significantly” every year.
During the press conference in which he presented the report, Michel Varton, the director of Portes ouvertes, pointed out the painful situation of the Christians in North Korea. With over 300,000 believers living “underground” for fear of retaliation from the government, Portes ouvertes placed this country at the top of its list of the most hostile States towards Christians for the seventeenth year in a row, followed by Afghanistan and Somalia – atheistic Communism and Islam are the two scourges that continue to persecute Christians throughout the world, just like last century.
Growth of Christian Hostility in India
Of these 58 countries, the director of Portes ouvertes pointed out that “only ten do not have Islamic extremism as their motive for persecution”. However, the organization highlights the anti-Christian repercussions of “religious nationalism” this year in Asia and especially in India. “It is one of the countries that went up the most in the list”, all the way to eleventh place, said Michel Varton. Narendra Modi’s coming into power “has caused a radicalization of the society and an increase in the power of radical Hinduism”, indicates the report.
The situation is also growing more and more alarming in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Christians are often refused access to water, health care, schooling, and work.
Western Countries Not Without Trials
Portes ouvertes did not, however, forget Christians in the West. Although there were no persecutions to the death, they can be “reduced to silence and threatened”.
The Spanish website infovaticana.com, for example, recalls that in 2017 in Spain, over 100 attacks on freedom of worship for Christians were recorded. According to the “Observatoire de la Liberté Religieuse”, these attacks are directly linked to the attitude of “certain political parties that wish to eliminate religion from public life and ridicule Christians”. And as Michel Varton reported:
...persecution goes beyond violence. Violence is the hammer. It is visible, and it hurts. Persecution is the vice. It is daily pressure, slander, interdictions, discrimination. It is less visible, but it is still persecution. Violence and persecution go together.
Atheistic secularism and Islam are indeed the two scourges that continue to persecute Christians throughout the world.