The Geography of Christian Persecution
There are approximately 2.3 billion Christians in the world today making it the largest religion (the Muslim faith is second at an estimated 1.8 billion adherents). A recent Gatestone Institute article summarized the situation.
“215 million Christians experience high levels of persecution” around the world, according to Open Doors, a human rights organization. On its recently released World Watch List 2018, which ranks the world’s 50 worst nations wherein to be Christian, 3,066 Christians were killed, 1,252 abducted, and 1,020 raped or sexually harassed on account of their faith; and 793 churches were attacked or destroyed.
By this assessment almost 10% of the world’s Christians live in countries where persecution ranges from “High” to “Extreme.” Of the nine countries identified as “Extreme,” eight are located in the Middle East or Africa. The following figure shows the Open Doors map for the Middle East and North East Africa regions. Names have been added for the eight “Extreme” persecution countries located in these regions. North Korea was designated as the worst persecutor of Christians in the world.
All eight of these “Extreme” persecution countries are Muslim majority. However, it should shock the Western Christian conscience that of these eight countries two (Afghanistan at #3 and Iraq at #7) have been occupied by NATO forces for all or most of this century. Yes, I understand (and support) that NATO is not in these countries as a colonizer. However, it speaks volumes that in the two Muslim countries where Western countries have the greatest influence both ended up in the “Extreme” Christian persecution category. Thus it appears that improving the lot of Christians and other minorities (and women, and children) either wasn’t a priority or the cultural power of persecution is so intractable that even an occupying power is helpless to improve the situation (or a combination of the two).
But the reader may complain that I’m unfairly singling out Muslim countries by focusing primarily on Christian persecution. For example, aren’t we bombarded with news stories that claim massive increases in hate crimes against Muslims in the United States due to the election of Donald Trump to the Presidency? Surely in the United States it is now at least as bad for Muslims as it is for Christians in Muslim majority countries.