According to newly released data, in 2018 Christians were persecuted in a record 145 countries.
Christians are persecuted in more countries than any other religious group in the world, followed closely by Muslims, according to a new Pew Research Center study that also found government restrictions of religions are at an all-time high.
The lengthy Pew report was released this week and found that in 2018 – the most recent year studied by Pew – government limits on religion continued to climb, contributing to a “substantial rise in government restrictions on religion” compared to 2007, the first year Pew conducted the study. Pew defines restrictions as “laws, policies and actions by officials that impinge on religious beliefs and practices.”
The worldwide Government Restrictions Index score in 2018 was 2.9, compared to 1.8 in 2007 (The score involves a 10-point scale based on 20 indicators).
China is the world’s most restrictive country toward religion with the highest score (9.3) of all 198 countries and territories studied. Iran (8.5) is second, followed by Malaysia and the Maldives (8.2 each) and Tajikistan and Turkmenistan (7.9 each).
Most of the world’s religious persecution takes place in the Asia-Pacific region, as well as in the Middle East and North Africa, Pew said.
Christians and Muslims in 2018 received the highest level of persecution, which Pew calls “harassment.” Harassment, Pew said, “can include a wide range of actions – from verbal abuse to physical violence and killings – motivated at least in part by the target’s religious identity.”
Christians were persecuted in 145 countries in 2018 – a record – while Muslims were persecuted in 139 countries. Jews experienced persecution in a total of 88 countries.
“As in previous years, Christians and Muslims experienced harassment in more countries than any other religious groups in 2018. This pattern has remained consistent since the study began in 2007,” Pew said in its analysis.
Pew listed examples of persecution.
“In Burundi, a Christian man died after he was imprisoned and allegedly beaten by police for refusing – on the basis of his religious conscience – to register to vote,” Pew said. “… in Lebanon, three brothers reportedly killed a Sunni man after accusing him of making blasphemous remarks in a market.”
6And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 7For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. 8All these are the beginning of sorrows. 9Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. 10And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. 11And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. 12And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.
Photo courtesy: The New York Public Library/Unsplash
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