There are some 197 countries around the world.
And in 144 of them, Christians are persecuted, according to a report commissioned by the British government.
There is widespread evidence showing that “today, Christians constitute by far the most widely persecuted religion,” the report said.
It found that “Christians have been harassed in more countries than any other religious group and have suffered harassment in many of the heavily Muslim countries of the Middle East and North Africa.”
There are some 245 million Christians living in the top 50 countries for persecution and they suffer “high levels” or worse. Previously, only one country, North Korea, was classified as having “extreme” persecution. Now there are 11 countries.
Turkish journalist Uzay Bulut, a senior fellow at the Gatestone Institute, noted “persecution against Christians and other non-Muslims is not about the ethnicity, race or skin color of either the perpetrators or the victims; it is about their religion.”
In Africa, he said, “various Islamist groups and individuals are attacking and attempting to annihilate Christians for being Christian. If these crimes are not stopped, it is highly likely that the fate of the African Continent will be like that of the Middle East: Once it was a majority-Christian region; now, Christians are a tiny, dying, defenseless minority.”
The British report is the “Bishop of Truro’s Independent Review for the Foreign Secretary of FCO Support for Persecuted Christians.”
The FCO is the nation’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
The bishop, the Rt. Rev. Philip Mounstephen, explained: “The Independent Review was announced at Christmas and this Interim Report is published in the Easter season. Both of these great festivals remind us that weakness and vulnerability are at the heart of the Christian faith. Jesus Christ was born into poverty and laid in a feeding-trough. He died as a victim of persecution himself. Given that, it is hardly surprising that many of his followers today count among the weakest and most vulnerable people on the planet. It is to them, to their needs and to their support, that this Interim Report is dedicated.”
He wrote that in addition to Christians being the most targeted, “the evidence suggests that acts of violence and other intimidation against Christians are becoming more widespread.”
The report said that “in some regions, the level and nature of persecution is arguable coming close to meeting the international definition of genocide.”
It said the “eradication of Christians and other minorities on pain of ‘the sword’ or other violent means was revealed to be the specific and stated objective of extremist groups in Syria, Iraq, Egypt, northeast Nigeria and the Philippines.”
“An intent to erase all evidence of the Christian presence was made plain by the removal of crosses, the destruction of church buildings and church symbols,” the report said.
“The killing and abduction of clergy represented a direct attack on the church’s structure and leadership. Where these and other incidents meet the tests of genocide, governments will be required to bring perpetrators to justice, aid victims and take preventative measures for the future.”
Christianity, in fact, “now faces the possibility of being wiped out in parts of the Middle East where its roots go back further. In Palestine, Christian numbers are below 1.5 percent, in Syria the Christian population has declined from 1.7 million in 2011 to below 450,000 and in Iraq, Christian numbers have slumped from 1.5 million before 2003 to below 120,000 today.”
In some parts of the world, “extrajudicial killings and the enforced and involuntary disappearance of Christians are also widespread,” the report said.
Bulut cited the destruction of a Christian school by Muslims in Uganda, a church in Niger burned by Muslims and terror attacks in Burkina Faso that left 29 Christians dead.
In one incident, the assailants “asked the Christians to convert to Islam but the pastor and the others refused.”
“They ordered them to gather under a tree and took their Bibles and mobile phones. Then they called them, one after the other, behind the church building where they shot them dead.”
He said that terrorist groups are not the only sources of persecution in Africa as many Muslim governments and individuals also target Christians.