Monday, January 19, 2015

Suffering for their faith

The past 12 months have seen the highest level of persecution of Christians worldwide in living memory. One hundred million Christians are facing persecution.

Islamic extremists are the main persecutor. In some countries, Christians face imprisonment, torture, rape and death.

More than 70 per cent of Christians have fled Iraq since 2003. More than 700,000 Christians have left Syria since civil war began in 2011.

The organisation Open Doors has published its 2015 World Watch List of the 50 countries where it is most dangerous to be a Christian. North Korea tops the list for the 13th successive year. Meeting with other Christians there is virtually impossible. Anyone discovered in unauthorised religious activity is subject to arrest, arbitrary detention, disappearance, torture and/or execution.

Next countries on the list, in order, are Somalia, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Sudan, Iran, Pakistan, Eritrea and Nigeria. You can see further details here.

Lisa Pearce, CEO of Open Doors in the UK and Ireland, says "I am convinced that what happens in the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa in the next three years will define the future of Christianity as we know it. We can't afford to sleepwalk through these difficult days. Open Doors isn't saying there should be special treatment for Christians - of course there shouldn't. But there must be equal treatment - the fundamental right to follow any faith, or none."

Tomorrow will be the launch of the World Watch List and a report in Parliament on global persecution. It's not too late to e-mail your MP to invite him or her to attend the meeting.

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