Number of Actual Christians Martyred is Debatable, but the World’s Persecution Problem is Not
Franklin Graham condemned the “Christian genocide” that’s killing “over 100,000 a year because of their faith in Christ” at a Washington, D.C., gathering of 600 persecuted believers and their advocates from 130 countries.
“I am sure the number of Christians who are in prison or martyred each year would stagger our mind if we really knew what the total number really was,” Graham told the opening session of the inaugural World Summit in Defense of Christians, reports Religion News Service. “And it would send us to our knees in sorrow and in prayer.”
The figure of 100,000 martyrs that Graham cited originates from the Center for the Study of Global Christianity (CSGC), and includes all Christians “who have lost their lives prematurely, in situations of witness, as a result of human hostility.”
This definition is broad. For example, it includes about 20 percent of the 4 million people killed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s civil war, which significantly skews the 10-year average that the number represents.
It’s also highly debatable, as CT has reported. By comparison, Open Doors, a leading advocate for the persecuted church which verifies every death through witnesses when possible, counted just 1,207 Christians killed for faith-related reasons during the reporting period for its 2017 World Watch List. The prior year, it reported 7,000 martyrs.
However, what is not in dispute is that religious freedom violations have hit record highs in recent years, as extensively documented in the latest reports from Open Doors, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, the US State Department, and Under Caesar’s Sword, among others. (The current debate: Does the US belong on such lists?)
Vice President Mike Pence also addressed the noteworthy gathering, decrying the genocidal actions of ISIS and pledging that the US would prioritize the protection of persecuted Christians (another current debate). Baptist Press offers more details on the DC summit.
SOURCE: SARAH EEKHOFF ZYLSTRA
Christianity Today: “Gleanings”