Protests against the killing of Christians in Iraq
The number is shocking.
Massimo Introvigne, a human rights representative for the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, has told an OSCE meeting in Bodollo, Hungary, that 105,000 people are killed every year because of their Christian faith.
Introvigne recently declared to the crowd gathered in the Budapest suburb that the statistics mean that an average of one Christian is killed every five minutes.
Introvigne cited an article written by the Center for the Study of Global Christianity and published in the International Bulletin of Missionary Research. CSGC Researcher Bert Hickman says wars, purges and persecution support such a total.
“Those figures are accurate that we published in the International Bulletin of Missionary Research. We report that … over the last 10 years, on average 100,000 Christians have been killed every year,” Hickman explained.
“This doesn’t count Christians who are killed incidentally because of other causes, so that does work out to be about one every five minutes,” he said.
Listen to an interview with Hickman:
International Christian Concern’s Jonathan Racho says that because of recent upticks in anti-Christian violence, he’s not surprised by the figures.
“Persecution of Christians has really increased over the past couple of years. The figure seems to be very high, but since we don’t have exact number of people who have been killed, I can’t confirm or deny it,” Racho said.
“But the number is consistent with what we’ve been hearing from reports of violent persecution, massacres, and violence. It’s not surprising for us because of the increase in number of persecutions,” he said.
Some human rights groups caution that the figures aren’t certain.
The Voice of the Martyrs website discusses martyrdom numbers published by the International Bulletin and researchers David Barrett and Todd Johnson. However, Voice of the Martyrs does not endorse them.
“Many, many persecution experts have concluded that they are untenable,” the organization explains. VOM says that the researchers have stated that their figures are estimates.
“Queries to the researchers have shown that these figures are, in fact, projected averages or statistical guesses rather than based on hard figures or actual documentation,” the statement added.
VOM adds their disclaimer.
“It should be understood that The Voice of the Martyrs does not stand behind this report’s findings as being indisputable facts,” the statement concluded.
That the numbers, whatever they are, are significant seems not to be a subject of disagreement. An organization called Defenders of the Catholic Faith says the situation is deteriorating: “More martyrs for Jesus Christ died in the 20th century than in all previous 19 centuries combined. This century will most likely prove to be more repressive and bloody. The world is more anti-Christian than ever since the first centuries in Rome.”
Hickman explains that his data are based on several sources.
“It comes from some reports that organizations produce. It comes from some sources we have in different countries,” Hickman said, adding that some of the casualty reports are the result of anti-Christian violence in Congo’s civil war.
“Before that, you had people being killed for their faith in Sudan for a good period of years. Those are two of the largest causes,” he said.
Racho points to the casualties in civil wars who were targeted because of their Christian faith.
“This report is about Christians who are killed simply because of their faith in Christ. And it’s from all over the world,” Racho stressed.
Hickman points out that some of these causes are ongoing struggles.
“The number isn’t simply people who have been killed in the war. The number comes from people who have been targeted because of their faith,” Hickman added.
Hickman said his figures have credibility because the numbers come from people who are actually in the troubled territories. He said the sources are missionaries, human rights activists and aid workers.
“The numbers come from multiple sources,” he observed.
Racho says the heaviest persecution is from other religious groups.
“So far, the main persecution of Christians is in Muslim countries. The primary number of Christians persecuted and killed are those living in Islamic countries,” Racho said.
Listen to an interview with Jonathan Racho:
However, Racho added that even though figures indicate that most of the anti-Christian persecution comes from Muslim countries, Christian persecution is also the product of political ideologies.
“There are also a significant number of persecuted Christians living in communist countries like China, North Korea, and Eritrea. In all of these countries persecution is widespread,” Racho declared.
“There are other countries like India, for instance, where persecution is rampant. This is because of Hindus who believe that India belongs to the Hindus,” he said.
“So persecution is going on because of Islamic radical teachings and practices, because of communist ideologies and because of other radical ideologies like the Hindu radical ideas,” Racho summarized.
Hickman added a surprising source for anti-Christian violence.
“It’s a cross section. Sometimes it’s from other religions. Sometimes it’s from adherents of different groups within Christianity. You can have things like Catholic on Protestant and Protestant on Catholic,” Hickman explained.
“It can also be political entities. It really depends on the specific situation as to what the motivation behind it is,” he said.
Hickman said that his group has actually calculated a decrease in the number of violent anti-Christian incidents. He says this could be for a variety of reasons.
“We’ve actually calculated that there’s been a bit of a decrease in the intensity, but again in some countries it will be declining when in others it’s increasing,” Hickman related.
“You have to look at it country by country. But, on the whole when you look at the report that we published, you can see that the totals have declined somewhat,” he said.
Hickman said the decline can be attributed to factors such as increased tolerance or the end of a political persecution. However, he added that there could be one stark explanation.
“It might be the driving out of a group. If there’s nobody left to persecute anymore, you don’t persecute them,” Hickman stated.
Hickman added that the absence of persecution news in the media doesn’t mean that anti-Christian violence isn’t happening.