Political Islam, an increasingly intolerant humanism and the development of a new civic religion will be the major battleground in 2016 for the future of religious freedom, says Christian charity Barnabas Fund.
Political Islam in much of the world is the greatest threat in its attempts to enforce sharia law, either through the political process or through violence. Last year ISIS extended to new areas of Syria and Northern Iraq. Boko Haram spread its attacks on Christians from Nigeria to Niger and Chad.
Acer province in Indonesia began enforcing sharia; in Tanzania the government attempted to introduce sharia courts to the mainland, where Muslims are a minority. Brunei and Somalia banned the public celebration of Christmas.
Humanists have campaigned against Christian moral standards, attempting to enforce their own secular version of morality. They have tried to prevent parents from sending their children to Christian schools, wanting children to attend entirely secular schools that reflect humanists' own belief system. They have sought to prevent schools from including any Christian aspect in Christmas celebrations.
We are seeing, says Barnabas, the emergence of a new civic religion in the West in which all beliefs and lifestyle choices are equally valid, and no one, including churches, is allowed to discriminate against them. It claims to be based on tolerance, but is in fact profoundly intolerant of anyone holding historic biblical Christian beliefs.
One of the results is that it is becoming increasingly difficult to hold public office as a teacher, social worker, judge or politician without at least nominally subscribing to a particular set of beliefs. Freedom of speech is being undermined, with attempts even being made to prosecute pastors for comments made from the pulpit deemed to be offensive to such as Muslims, as evidenced in a recent court case in Northern Ireland.