World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Persecution of Christians

Article Id: WHEBN0000025074
Reproduction Date:

Title: Persecution of Christians  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Anti-Christian sentiment, Voice of the Martyrs, Freedom of religion, Anti-Protestantism, Persecution of Zoroastrians
Collection: Anti-Christianity, Persecution of Christians
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Persecution of Christians

A Christian Dirce, by Henryk Siemiradzki. A Christian woman is martyred under Nero in this re-enactment of the myth of Dirce (painting by Henryk Siemiradzki, 1897, National Museum, Warsaw).

Persecution of Christians can be traced historically from the time of Jesus in the first century to the present time.[1] Early Christians were persecuted for their faith at the hands of both Jews from whose religion Christianity arose and the Roman Empire which controlled much of the land across which early Christianity was distributed. Early in the fourth century, the religion was legalized by the Edict of Milan, and it eventually became the State church of the Roman Empire.

Christian missionaries, as well as the people that they converted to Christianity, have been the target of persecution, many times to the point of being martyred for their faith.

There is also a history of individual Christian denominations suffering persecution at the hands of other Christians under the charge of heresy, particularly during the 16th century Protestant Reformationas well as throughout the Middle Ages when various Christian groups deemed heretical were persecuted by the Papacy.

In the 20th century, Christians have been persecuted by various groups, and by atheistic states such as the USSR and North Korea. During the Second World War members of many Christian churches were persecuted in Germany for resisting the Nazi ideology. Hitler expressed a desire to destroy the influence of Christian churches within the Third Reich, seeing it as absurdity and nonsense founded on Jewish lies. He planned to do this after the war, and not during it, believing "that suited his immediate political purposes".

In more recent times the Christian missionary organization Open Doors (UK) estimates 100 million Christians face persecution, particularly in Muslim-dominated countries such as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.[2][3] According to the International Society for Human Rights, up to 80% of acts of persecution are directed at people of the Christian faith.[4]


  • Antiquity 1
    • Persecution of Christians in the New Testament 1.1
    • Persecution of early Christians in the Roman Empire 1.2
      • Persecution under Nero, 64–68 AD 1.2.1
      • Persecution from the 2nd century to Constantine 1.2.2
      • The Great Persecution 1.2.3
    • Persecutions of early Christians outside the Roman Empire 1.3
  • Persecution of Christians during the Middle Ages 2
    • Persecution of Christians by Persians and Jews during Roman-Persian Wars 2.1
    • Persecution of Christians in the early and Arab Islamic Caliphates 2.2
    • Medieval Christian persecution of heresy 2.3
  • Early Modern period (1500 to 1815) 3
    • Reformation 3.1
      • Reformation in Scotland 3.1.1
      • Reformation and counter reformation in England, Ireland and English colonies 3.1.2
        • Ireland
        • English colonies in North America
      • Anti-Eastern Orthodox 3.1.3
      • Anti-Protestant 3.1.4
      • Persecution of the Anabaptists 3.1.5
    • China 3.2
    • Japan 3.3
    • India 3.4
    • French Revolution 3.5
  • Modern era (1815 to 1989) 4
    • Ottoman Empire 4.1
    • Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact Countries 4.2
    • 19th and 20th century Mexico 4.3
    • Anti-Mormonism 4.4
    • Kenya 4.5
    • Madagascar 4.6
    • Spain 4.7
      • Anti-Catholicism 4.7.1
      • Anti-Protestantism 4.7.2
    • Nazi Germany 4.8
    • Jehovah's Witnesses 4.9
    • Israel 4.10
  • Current situation (1989 to present) 5
    • Americas 5.1
    • Persecution of Christians in the Muslim world 5.2
      • Afghanistan 5.2.1
      • Algeria 5.2.2
      • Egypt 5.2.3
      • Indonesia 5.2.4
      • Iran 5.2.5
      • Iraq 5.2.6
      • Malaysia 5.2.7
      • Pakistan 5.2.8
      • Saudi Arabia 5.2.9
      • Somalia 5.2.10
      • Sudan 5.2.11
      • Syria 5.2.12
      • Tunisia 5.2.13
      • Turkey 5.2.14
    • India 5.3
    • Israel 5.4
    • Bhutan 5.5
      • Before 2008 5.5.1
      • After 2008 5.5.2
    • Nigeria 5.6
    • Philippines 5.7
    • Sri Lanka 5.8
    • China 5.9
    • North Korea 5.10
    • Indochina region 5.11
    • Europe 5.12
      • Denmark 5.12.1
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • Sources 8
  • External links 9


Persecution of Christians in the New Testament

Early Christianity began as a sect among Jews, and according to the New Testament account, Pharisees, including Paul of Tarsus prior to his conversion to Christianity, persecuted early Christians. The early Christians preached a Messiah which did not conform to the expectations of the time.[5] However, feeling that he was presaged in Isaiah's Suffering Servant and in all of Jewish scripture, Christians had been hopeful that their countrymen would accept their vision of a New Israel.[6] Despite many individual conversions, a fierce opposition was found in their countrymen.[6]

The Crucifixion of St. Peter by Caravaggio
Dissension began almost immediately with the teachings of Stephen at Jerusalem (unorthodox by contemporaneous Jewish standards), and never ceased entirely while the city remained.[6] According to Acts of the Apostles, a year after the Crucifixion of Jesus, Stephen was stoned for his alleged transgression of orthodoxy,[7] with Saul (who later converted and was renamed Paul) looking on.

In 41 AD, when Agrippa I, who already possessed the territory of Antipas and Phillip, obtained the title of King of the Jews, in a sense re-forming the Kingdom of Herod, he was reportedly eager to endear himself to his Jewish subjects and continued the persecution in which James the Greater lost his life, Peter narrowly escaped and the rest of the apostles took flight.[6]

After Agrippa's death, the Roman procuratorship began (before 41 they were Prefects in Iudaea Province) and those leaders maintained a neutral peace, until the procurator Festus died and the high priest Annas II took advantage of the power vacuum to attack the Church and executed James the Just, then leader of Jerusalem's Christians.[6] The New Testament states that Paul was himself imprisoned on several occasions by Roman authorities, stoned by Pharisees and left for dead on one occasion, and was eventually taken as a prisoner to Rome. Peter and other early Christians were also imprisoned, beaten and harassed. A Jewish revolt, spurred by the Roman killing of 3,000 Jews, led to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, the end of sacrificial Judaism (until the Third Temple), and the disempowering of the Jewish persecutors; the Christian community, meanwhile, having fled to safety in the already pacified region of Pella.[6]

The New Testament, especially the Gospel of John, has traditionally been interpreted as relating Christian accounts of the Pharisee rejection of Jesus and accusations of the Pharisee responsibility for his crucifixion. The Acts of the Apostles depicts instances of early Christian persecution by the Sanhedrin, the Jewish religious court of the time.[8]

Walter Laqueur argues that hostility between Christians and Jews grew over the generations. By the 4th century, John Chrysostom was arguing that the Pharisees alone, not the Romans, were responsible for the murder of Christ. However, according to Laqueur: "Absolving Pilate from guilt may have been connected with the missionary activities of early Christianity in Rome and the desire not to antagonize those they want to convert."[9]

Persecution of early Christians in the Roman Empire

Persecution under Nero, 64–68 AD

The first documented case of imperially supervised persecution of the Christians in the Roman Empire begins with Nero (37–68). In 64 AD, a great fire broke out in Rome, destroying portions of the city and economically devastating the Roman population. Some people suspected Nero himself as the arsonist, as Suetonius reported,[10] claiming he played the lyre and sang the 'Sack of Ilium' during the fires. In his Annals, Tacitus (who wrote that Nero was in Antium at the time of the fire's outbreak), stated that "to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians (or Chrestians)[11] by the populace" (Tacit. Annals XV, see Tacitus on Jesus). Suetonius, later to the period, does not mention any persecution after the fire, but in a previous paragraph unrelated to the fire, mentions punishments inflicted on Christians, defined as men following a new and malefic superstition. Suetonius however does not specify the reasons for the punishment, he just lists the fact together with other abuses put down by Nero.[12]

Persecution from the 2nd century to Constantine

By the mid-2nd century, mobs could be found willing to throw stones at Christians, and they might be mobilized by rival sects. The Persecution in Lyon was preceded by mob violence, including assaults, robberies and stonings (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 5.1.7).

Further state persecutions were desultory until the 3rd century, though Tertullian's Apologeticus of 197 was ostensibly written in defense of persecuted Christians and addressed to Roman governors.[13] The "edict of Septimius Severus" familiar in Christian history is doubted by some secular historians to have existed outside Christian martyrology.

The first documentable Empire-wide persecution took place under Maximinus Thrax, though only the clergy were sought out. It was not until Decius during the mid-century that a persecution of Christian laity across the Empire took place. Christian sources aver that a decree was issued requiring public sacrifice, a formality equivalent to a testimonial of allegiance to the Emperor and the established order. Decius authorized roving commissions visiting the cities and villages to supervise the execution of the sacrifices and to deliver written certificates to all citizens who performed them. Christians were often given opportunities to avoid further punishment by publicly offering sacrifices or burning incense to Roman gods, and were accused by the Romans of impiety when they refused. Refusal was punished by arrest, imprisonment, torture, and executions. Christians fled to safe havens in the countryside and some purchased their certificates, called libelli. Several councils held at Carthage debated the extent to which the community should accept these lapsed Christians.

Some early Christians sought out and welcomed martyrdom. Roman authorities tried hard to avoid Christians because they "goaded, chided, belittled and insulted the crowds until they demanded their death."[14] According to Droge and Tabor, "in 185 the proconsul of Asia, Arrius Antoninus, was approached by a group of Christians demanding to be executed. The proconsul obliged some of them and then sent the rest away, saying that if they wanted to kill themselves there was plenty of rope available or cliffs they could jump off."[15] Such seeking after death is found in Tertullian's Scorpiace or in the letters of Saint Ignatius of Antioch but was certainly not the only view of martyrdom in the Christian church. Both Polycarp and Cyprian, bishops in Smyrna and Carthage respectively, attempted to avoid martyrdom.

Palestinian bishop Eusebius of Caesaraea described the mass murder of Christians by Jews during the Bar Kochba revolt.[16]

The Great Persecution

"Faithful Unto Death" by Herbert Schmalz

The persecutions culminated with Diocletian and Galerius at the end of the third and beginning of the 4th century. The Great Persecution is considered the largest. Beginning with a series of four edicts banning Christian practices and ordering the imprisonment of Christian clergy, the persecution intensified until all Christians in the empire were commanded to sacrifice to the gods or face immediate execution. Over 20,000 Christians are thought to have died during Diocletian's reign. However, as Diocletian zealously persecuted Christians in the Eastern part of the empire, his co-emperors in the West did not follow the edicts and so Christians in Gaul, Spain, and Britannia were virtually unmolested.

This persecution lasted, until Constantine I came to power in 313 and legalized Christianity. It was not until Theodosius I in the later 4th century that Christianity would become the official religion of the Empire. Between these two events Julian II temporarily restored the traditional Roman religion and established broad religious tolerance renewing Pagan and Christian hostilities.

Martyrs were considered uniquely exemplary of the Christian faith, and few early saints were not also martyrs.

The New Catholic Encyclopedia states that "Ancient, medieval and early modern hagiographers were inclined to exaggerate the number of martyrs. Since the title of martyr is the highest title to which a Christian can aspire, this tendency is natural". Estimates of Christians killed for religious reasons before the year 313 vary greatly, depending on the scholar quoted, from a high of almost 100,000 to a low of 10,000.

Persecutions of early Christians outside the Roman Empire

In 341, the Zoroastrian Shapur II ordered the massacre of all Christians in the Persian Sassanid Empire. During the persecution, about 1,150 Assyrian Christians were martyred under Shapur II in Assuristan (Sassanid ruled Assyria).[17] In the 4th century, the Terving king Athanaric in ca. 375 ordered a persecution of Christians.[18]

The Yemeni Jewish Himyar tribe, led by King Dhu Nuwas, massacred 20,000 Christians in 524.[19]

Persecution of Christians during the Middle Ages

Persecution of Christians by Persians and Jews during Roman-Persian Wars

Several months after the Persian conquest, a riot occurred in Jerusalem, and the Jewish governor of Jerusalem Nehemiah was killed by a band of young Christians along with his "council of the righteous" while making plans for the building of the Third Temple. At this time the Christians had allied themselves with the Eastern Roman Empire. Shortly, the events escalated into a full-scale Christian rebellion, resulting in a battle of Jews and Christians inside Jerusalem. In the aftermath many Jews were killed and survivors fled to Caesarea, still held by the Persian Army.

The Judeo-Persian reaction was ruthless—Persian Sasanian general Xorheam assembled Judeo-Persian troops and went and encamped around Jerusalem and besieged in for 19 days.[20] Eventually, digging beneath the foundations of the Jerusalem, they destroyed the wall and on the 19th day of the siege, the Judeo-Persian forces took Jerusalem.[20]

According to the account of Sebeos, the siege resulted in a total Christian death toll of 17,000, the earliest and thus most commonly accepted figure.[21]: 207Per Antiochus, 4,518 prisoners alone were massacred near Mamilla reservoir.[22] Christian sources later exaggerated the extent of the massacre, claiming the death toll as high as 90,000.[21]: 207–208 In addition, 35,000 people including the patriarch Zacharias were deported to Mesopotamia.[21]: 69–71 The city is said to have been burn down. However, neither widespread burning nor destruction of churches have been found in the archaeological record.[22][23]

According to the later account of Antiochus Strategos, whose perspective appears to be that of a Byzantine Greek and shows an antipathy towards the Jews,[24] thousands of Christians where massacred during the conquest of the city. Estimates based on varying copies of Strategos's manuscripts range from 4,518 to 66,509 killed.[25] Strategos wrote that the Jews offered to help them escape death if they "become Jews and deny Christ", and the Christian captives refused. In anger the Jews allegedly purchased Christians to kill them.[26] 37,000 were reportedly deported by the Persians and many more thousands sold as slaves to the Jews.[27] In 1989, a mass burial grave at Mamilla cave was discovered in by Israeli archeologist Ronny Reich, near the site where Antiochus reported the greatest number of corpses were found. The human remains were in poor condition containing a minimum of 526 individuals.[28]

Persecution of Christians in the early and Arab Islamic Caliphates

In general, Christians subject to Islamic rule were allowed to practice their religion with some notable limitations, see Pact of Umar. As People of the Book they were awarded dhimmi status (along with Jews and Mandeans), inferior to the status of Muslims.

At times, anti-Christian pogroms occurred. Under sharia, non-Muslims were obligated to pay jizya taxes, which contributed a significant proportion of income for the Islamic state and persuaded many Christians to convert to Islam (Stillman (1979), p. 160.). According to the Hanafi school of sharia, the testimony of a non-Muslim (such as a Christian) was not considered valid against the testimony of a Muslim. Other schools differed. Christian men were not allowed to marry a Muslim woman under sharia. Muslim men on the other hand were allowed to marry Christian women who were then expected to convert. Christians under Islamic rule had the right to convert to Islam or any other religion, while a murtad, or apostate of Islam, faced severe penalties or even hadd, which could include the death penalty.

Tamerlane instigated large scale massacres of Christians in Mesopotamia, Persia, Asia Minor and Syria in the 14th century AD. Most of the victims were indigenous Assyrians and Armenians, members of the Assyrian Church of the East and Orthodox Churches, which led to the decimation of the hitherto majority Assyrian population in northern Mesopotamia and the abandonment of the ancient Assyrian city of Ashur.[29]

Medieval Christian persecution of heresy

In the medieval period the Roman Catholic Church moved to suppress the Cathar heresy, the Pope having sanctioned a crusade against the Albigensians, during the course of which the massacre of Béziers took place, with between seven and twenty thousand deaths. Papal legate Arnaud Amalric, when asked how Catholics could be distinguished from Cathars once the city fell, allegedly replied, "Kill them all, God will know His own." Estimates of the death toll over the twenty-year period of this campaign range from 100,000 to 1,000,000.[30][31][32]

John Huss, a Bohemian preacher of reformation, was burned at the stake on 6 July 1415. Pope Martin V issued a bull on 17 March 1420 which proclaimed a crusade "for the destruction of the Wycliffites, Hussites and all other heretics in Bohemia".

The Crusades in the Middle East also spilled over into conquest of Eastern Orthodox Christians by Roman Catholics and attempted suppression of the Orthodox Church. The Waldenses were as well persecuted by the Catholic Church, but survive up to this day.

Early Modern period (1500 to 1815)


Auto-da-fé of Valladolid, Spain, in which fourteen Christians were burned at the stake for their Lutheran faith, on 21 May 1559[33]

The Reformation led to a long period of warfare and communal violence between Catholic and Protestant factions, leading to massacres and forced suppression of the alternative views by the dominant faction in much of Europe.

Reformation in Scotland

The Martyrs' Monument at Wishart.

Reformation and counter reformation in England, Ireland and English colonies

The Reformation in England began in 1534 with the passing of the Act of Supremacy that made the King of England the "only supreme head on earth of the Church in England". Anyone who failed to acknowledge this was considered to have committed a treason act. It was under this act that Sir Thomas More was executed. When Queen Mary I came to the throne, the government initiated a counter reformation; around 280 Protestants were burnt as heretics, earning Mary the sobriquet of Bloody Mary.[34] However, with her death the throne passed to Queen Elizabeth I, who stated that "I would not open windows into men's souls",[35] she initiated a religious compromise which became known as the Anglican Church.[36] Elizabeth's government, while mildly tolerant of Roman Catholics, would not tolerate Jesuit missionaries, whose acts were judged to be seditious, rather than heretical, and who if captured were either imprisoned and banished or executed as traitors. The Gunpowder Plot caused renewed suspicion of Roman Catholics.

During the English Civil War, those who supported the Parliamentary cause tended to be less tolerant of Roman Catholics than were the Royalists, and in Parliamentary areas there was a fresh persecution of Roman Catholics, particularly in the London area. During the war, Irish Roman Catholics who fought for the Royalists could and were summarily executed on capture (see Ordinance of no quarter to the Irish). Although usually treated in a similar fashion to Royalists Protestants, in one well known case, about one third of the Roman Catholic garrison of Basing House were put to the sword during the storming of the fortress at the end of the siege. During the Commonwealth, religious toleration was in favour for all but some extreme sects such as Ranters and Roman Catholics. One famous incident was the Naylor case, where a Quaker James Naylor was found guilty of blaspheme by the Second Protectorate Parliament, whose members ordered Naylor to suffer a punishment that included being whipped by the hangman through the streets from Westminster, being branded with the letter B and having his tongue bored through with a red hot iron.

With the Restoration in 1660, Anglican Church was established as an episcopal church with other churches banned under the Clarendon Code and the Act of Uniformity 1662. This led to the Great Ejection of Puritan minsters from their livings as Anglican priests. Over the next few centuries, religious tolerance gradually replaced intolerance, in the first instance for Protestant Nonconformists and later for Roman Catholics, the Church of England is still the Established Church in England; the Monarch, who is head of the Church can not by law be a Roman Catholic or married to a Roman Catholic.


As punishment for the rebellion of 1641, almost all lands owned by Irish Catholics were confiscated and given to Protestant settlers. Under the penal laws, no Irish Catholic could sit in the Parliament of Ireland, even though some 90% of Ireland's population was native Irish Catholic when the first of these bans was introduced in 1691.[37] Catholic / Protestant strife has been blamed for much of "The Troubles", the ongoing struggle in Northern Ireland.

English colonies in North America

This attitude was carried to the English colonies in America, which eventually became the United States. In those colonies, Catholicism was introduced with the settling of Maryland in 1634; this colony offered a rare example of religious toleration in a fairly intolerant age, particularly amongst other English colonies which frequently exhibited a quite militant Protestantism. (See the Maryland Toleration Act, and note the pre-eminence of the Archdiocese of Baltimore in Catholic circles.) However, at the time of the American Revolution, Catholics formed less than 1% of the population of the thirteen colonies.

Anti-Eastern Orthodox

In 1656, Macarios III Zaim, who was the Greek Patriarch of Antioch, lamented over the atrocities committed by the Polish Catholics against followers of Greek Orthodoxy. Macarios was quoted as stating that seventy or eighty thousand followers of Eastern Orthodoxy were killed under hands of the Catholics. Greek Patriarch Macarios desired Turkish sovereignty over Catholic subjugation, stating:
God perpetuate the empire of the Turks for ever and ever! For they take their impost, and enter no account of religion, be their subjects Christians or Nazarenes, Jews or Samaritians; whereas these accursed Poles were not content with taxes and tithes from the brethren of Christ...[38]


The Bartholomew's Day massacre

Anti-Protestantism originated in a reaction by the Catholic Church against the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century. Protestants were denounced as heretics and subject to persecution in those territories, such as Spain, Italy and the Netherlands, by the Inquisition, in which the Catholics were the dominant power. This movement was orchestrated by Popes and Princes as the Counter Reformation. This resulted in religious wars and eruptions of sectarian hatred such as the St Bartholomew's Day Massacre of 1572.

Persecution of the Anabaptists

When the disputes between Lutherans and Roman Catholics gained a political dimension, both groups saw other groups of religious dissidents that were arising as a danger to their own security. The early "Täufer" (lit. "Baptists") were mistrusted and rejected by both religio-political parties. Religious persecution is often perpetrated as a means of political control, and this becomes evident with the Treaty of Augsburg in 1555. This treaty provided the legal groundwork for persecution of the Anabaptists. Because of the belief of opposing infant baptism and refusing to fight in wars, Anabaptists were persecuted by Catholics, Lutherans, Anglicans, and Calvinists. Hundreds to thousands of them were tortured and executed for their beliefs. While settling in England, persecutions for Anabaptists continued.


Beginning in the late 17th century, Christianity was banned for at least a century in China by the Kangxi Emperor of the Qing Dynasty after the Pope forbade Chinese Catholics from venerating their relatives or Confucius.[39] During the Boxer Rebellion, anti Christian Boxers, and Muslim Kansu Braves serving in the Chinese army attacked Christians.[40][41][42]

During the Northern Expedition, the Kuomintang incited anti-foreign, anti-Western sentiment. Portraits of Sun Yat-sen replaced the crucifix in several churches, KMT posters proclaimed- "Jesus Christ is dead. Why not worship something alive such as Nationalism?". Foreign missionaries were attacked and anti foreign riots broke out.[43]

During the Northern Expedition, in 1926 in Guangxi, Muslim General Bai Chongxi led his troops in destroying Buddhist temples and smashing idols, turning the temples into schools and Kuomintang party headquarters.[44] It was reported that almost all of Buddhist monasteries in Guangxi were destroyed by Bai in this manner. The monks were removed.[45] Bai led a wave of anti foreignism in Guangxi, attacking American, European, and other foreigners and missionaries, and generally making the province unsafe for foreigners. Westerners fled from the province, and some Chinese Christians were also attacked as imperialist agents.[46]


The Christian martyrs of Nagasaki. 17th-century Japanese painting.

Tokugawa Ieyasu assumed control over Japan in 1600. Like Toyotomi Hideyoshi, he disliked Christian activities in Japan. The Tokugawa shogunate finally decided to ban Catholicism, in 1614 and in the mid-17th century it demanded the expulsion of all European missionaries and the execution of all converts. This marked the end of open Christianity in Japan.[47] The Shimabara Rebellion, led by a young Japanese Christian boy named Amakusa Shiro Tokisada, took place in 1637. After the Hara Castle fell, the shogunate's forces beheaded an estimated 37,000 rebels and sympathizers. Amakusa Shirō's severed head was taken to Nagasaki for public display, and the entire complex at Hara Castle was burned to the ground and buried together with the bodies of all the dead.[48]

Many of the Christians in Japan continued for two centuries to maintain their religion as Kakure Kirishitan, or hidden Christians, without any priests or pastors. Some of those who were killed for their Faith are venerated as the Martyrs of Japan.

Christianity was later allowed during the Meiji era. The Meiji Constitution of 1890 introduced separation of church and state and permitted freedom of religion.


The Jamalabad fort route. Mangalorean Catholics had traveled through this route on their way to Seringapatam

In spite of the fact that there have been relatively fewer conflicts between Muslims and Christians in India in comparison to those between Muslims and Hindus, or Muslims and Sikhs, the relationship between Muslims and Christians have been occasionally turbulent. With the advent of European colonialism in India throughout the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, Christians were systematically persecuted in a few Muslim ruled kingdoms in India. Modern day persecution also exists carried out by Hindu nationalists. A report by Human Rights Watch stated that there is a rise of anti-Christian violence due to Hindu nationalism and Smita Narula, Researcher, Asia Division of Human Rights Watch stated "Christians are the new scapegoat in India's political battles. Without immediate and decisive action by the government, communal tensions will continue to be exploited for political and economic ends."[49]

Muslim Tipu Sultan, the ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore, took action against the Mangalorean Catholic community from Mangalore and the South Canara district on the southwestern coast of India. Tipu was widely reputed to be anti-Christian. He took Mangalorean Catholics into captivity at Seringapatam on 24 February 1784 and released them on 4 May 1799.[50]

The Bakur Manuscript reports him as having said: "All Musalmans should unite together, and considering the annihilation of infidels as a sacred duty, labor to the utmost of their power, to accomplish that subject." Soon after the Treaty of Mangalore in 1784, Tipu gained control of Canara.[51] He issued orders to seize the Christians in Canara, confiscate their estates,[52] and deport them to Seringapatam, the capital of his empire, through the Jamalabad fort route.[53] There were no priests among the captives. Together with Fr. Miranda, all the 21 arrested priests were issued orders of expulsion to Goa, fined Rs 2 lakhs, and threatened death by hanging if they ever returned.

Tipu ordered the destruction of 27 Catholic churches. Among them were the Church of Nossa Senhora de Rosario Milagres at Mangalore, Fr Miranda's Seminary at Monte Mariano, Church of Jesu Marie Jose at Omzoor, Chapel at Bolar, Church of Merces at Ullal, Imaculata Conceiciao at Mulki, San Jose at Perar, Nossa Senhora dos Remedios at Kirem, Sao Lawrence at Karkal, Rosario at Barkur, Immaculata Conceciao at Baidnur. All were razed to the ground, with the exception of Igreja da Santa Cruz Hospet also known as Hospet Church at Hospet, owing to the friendly offices of the Chauta Raja of Moodbidri.[54]

According to Thomas Munro, a Scottish soldier and the first collector of Canara, around 60,000 of them,[55] nearly 92 percent of the entire Mangalorean Catholic community, were captured. 7,000 escaped. Observer Francis Buchanan reports that 70,000 were captured, from a population of 80,000, with 10,000 escaping. They were forced to climb nearly 4,000 feet (1,200 m) through the jungles of the Western Ghat mountain ranges. It was 210 miles (340 km) from Mangalore to Seringapatam, and the journey took six weeks. According to British Government records, 20,000  of them died on the march to Seringapatam. According to James Scurry, a British officer, who was held captive along with Mangalorean Catholics, 30,000 of them were forcibly converted to Islam. The young women and girls were forcibly made wives of the Muslims living there.[56] The young men who offered resistance were disfigured by cutting their noses, upper lips, and ears.[57] According to Mr. Silva of Gangolim, a survivor of the captivity, if a person who had escaped from Seringapatam was found, the punishment under the orders of Tipu was the cutting off of the ears, nose, the feet and one hand.[58]

The Archbishop of Goa wrote in 1800, "It is notoriously known in all Asia and all other parts of the globe of the oppression and sufferings experienced by the Christians in the Dominion of the King of Kanara, during the usurpation of that country by Tipu Sultan from an implacable hatred he had against them who professed Christianity."

The British officer James Scurry, who was detained a prisoner for 10 years by Tipu Sultan along with the Mangalorean Catholics

Tipu Sultan's invasion of the Malabar Coast had an adverse impact on the Saint Thomas Christian community of the Malabar coast. Many churches in Malabar and Cochin were damaged. The old Syrian Nasrani seminary at Angamaly which had been the center of Catholic religious education for several centuries was razed to the ground by Tipu's soldiers. Many centuries-old religious manuscripts were lost forever. The church was later relocated to Kottayam where it still exists to this date. The Mor Sabor church at Akaparambu and the Martha Mariam Church attached to the seminary were destroyed as well. Tipu's army set fire to the church at Palayoor and attacked the Ollur Church in 1790. Furthernmore, the Arthat church and the Ambazhakkad seminary was also destroyed. Over the course of this invasion, many Saint Thomas Christians were killed or forcibly converted to Islam. Most of the coconut, arecanut, pepper and cashew plantations held by the Saint Thomas Christian farmers were also indiscriminately destroyed by the invading army. As a result, when Tipu's army invaded Guruvayur and adjacent areas, the Syrian Christian community fled Calicut and small towns like Arthat to new centres like Kunnamkulam, Chalakudi, Ennakadu, Cheppadu, Kannankode, Mavelikkara, etc. where there were already Christians. They were given refuge by Sakthan Tamburan, the ruler of Cochin and Karthika Thirunal, the ruler of Travancore, who gave them lands, plantations and encouraged their businesses. Colonel Macqulay, the British resident of Travancore also helped them.[59]

Tipu's persecution of Christians also extended to captured British soldiers. For instance, there were a significant amount of forced conversions of British captives between 1780 and 1784. Following their disastrous defeat at the negroes, and moreover, he had developed an aversion to wearing European clothes.[60]

During the surrender of the Mangalore fort which was delivered in an armistice by the British and their subsequent withdrawal, all the Mestizos and remaining non-British foreigners were killed, together with 5,600 Mangalorean Catholics. Those condemned by Tipu Sultan for treachery were hanged instantly, the gibbets being weighed down by the number of bodies they carried. The Netravati River was so putrid with the stench of dying bodies, that the local residents were forced to leave their riverside homes.

French Revolution

The Dechristianisation of France during the French Revolution is a conventional description of a campaign, conducted by various Robespierre-era governments of France beginning with the start of the French Revolution in 1789, to eliminate any symbol that might be associated with the past, especially the monarchy.

The program included the following policies:[61][62][63]

  • the deportation of clergy and the condemnation of many of them to death,
  • the closing, desecration and pillaging of churches, removal of the word "saint" from street names and other acts to banish Christian culture from the public sphere
  • removal of statues, plates and other iconography from places of worship
  • destruction of crosses, bells and other external signs of worship
  • the institution of revolutionary and civic cults, including the Cult of Reason and subsequently the Cult of the Supreme Being,
  • the large scale destruction of religious monuments,
  • the outlawing of public and private worship and religious education,
  • forced marriages of the clergy,
  • forced abjurement of priesthood, and
  • the enactment of a law on 21 October 1793 making all nonjuring priests and all persons who harbored them liable to death on sight.
Mass shootings at Nantes, 1793

The climax was reached with the celebration of the Goddess "Reason" in Notre Dame Cathedral on 10 November.

Under threat of death, imprisonment, military conscription or loss of income, about 20,000 constitutional priests were forced to abdicate or hand over their letters of ordination and 6,000 – 9,000 were coerced to marry, many ceasing their ministerial duties.[64] Some of those who abdicated covertly ministered to the people.[64] By the end of the decade, approximately 30,000 priests were forced to leave France, and thousands who did not leave were executed.[65] Most of France was left without the services of a priest, deprived of/liberated from the sacraments and any nonjuring priest faced the guillotine or deportation to French Guiana.[66]

The March 1793 conscription requiring Vendeans to fill their district's quota of 300,000 enraged the populace, who took up arms as "The Catholic Army", "Royal" being added later, and fought for "above all the reopening of their parish churches with their former priests."[67] A massacre of 6,000 Vendée prisoners, many of them women, took place after the battle of Savenay, along with the drowning of 3,000 Vendée women at Pont-au-Baux and 5,000 Vendée priests, old men, women, and children killed by drowning at the Loire River at Nantes in what was called the "national bath" – tied in groups in barges and then sunk into the Loire.[68][69][70]

With these massacres came formal orders for forced evacuation; also, a 'scorched earth' policy was initiated: farms were destroyed, crops and forests burned and villages razed. There were many reported atrocities and a campaign of mass killing universally targeted at residents of the Vendée regardless of combatant status, political affiliation, age or gender.[71] By July 1796, the estimated Vendean dead numbered between 117,000 and 500,000, out of a population of around 800,000.[72][73][74] Some historians call these mass killings the first modern genocide, specifically because intent to exterminate the Catholic Vendeans was clearly stated,[75] though others have rejected these claims.

Modern era (1815 to 1989)

Ottoman Empire

Greek-Orthodox metropolises in Asia Minor, ca. 1880. Since 1923 only the metropolis of Chalcedon retains a small community.

In 1842 Assyrians living in the mountains of Hakkari in south east Anatolia faced a massive unprovoked attack from Ottoman forces and Kurdish irregulars, which resulted in the death of tens of thousands of unarmed Christian Assyrians.[76]

A major massacre of Assyrians and Armenians in the Ottoman Empire occurred between 1894 and 1897 AD by Turkish troops and their Kurdish supporters during the rule of Sultan Abdul Hamid II (the Hamidian massacre). The motives for these massacres were an attempt to reassert Pan-Islamism in the Ottoman Empire, resentment at the comparative wealth of the ancient indigenous Christian communities, and a fear that they would attempt to secede from the tottering Ottoman Empire. Assyrians and Armenians were massacred in Diyarbakir, Hasankeyef, Sivas and other parts of Anatolia and northern Mesopotamia, by Sultan Abdul Hamid II. These attacks caused the death of tens of thousands of Assyrians and Armenians and the forced "Ottomanisation" of the inhabitants of 245 villages. The Turkish troops looted the remains of settlements and these were later stolen and occupied by Muslim Kurds. Unarmed Christian women and children were raped, tortured and murdered.[76]


  • International Christian Concern: Daily News on Christian Persecution around the World
  • Montagnard Foundation supporting Christians persecuted in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia
  • Photojournalist's Account – Images of Sudan's persecution
  • Chronology of the Persecution of Christians from 299–324

External links

  • Changing Gods: Rethinking Conversion in India. Rudolf C Heredia. Penguin Books. 2007. ISBN 0-14-310190-0
  • W.H.C. Frend, 1965. Martyrdom and Persecution in the Early Church
  • Let My People Go: The True Story of Present-Day Persecution and Slavery Cal. R. Bombay, Multnomah Publishers, 1998
  • Their Blood Cries Out Paul Marshall and Lela Gilbert, World Press, 1997.
  • In the Lion's Den: Persecuted Christians and What the Western Church Can Do About It Nina Shea, Broadman & Holman, 1997.
  • This Holy Seed: Faith, Hope and Love in the Early Churches of North Africa Robin Daniel, (Chester, Tamarisk Publications, 2010: from ISBN 0-9538565-3-4
  • In the Shadow of the Cross: A Biblical Theology of Persecution and Discipleship Glenn M. Penner, Living Sacrifice Books, 2004
  • Catholic Martyrs of the Twentieth Century: A Comprehensive World History by Robert Royal, Crossroad/Herder & Herder; (April 2000). ISBN 0-8245-1846-2
  • Islam's Dark Side – The Orwellian State of Sudan, The Economist, 24 June 1995.
  • Sharia and the IMF: Three Years of Revolution, SUDANOW, September 1992.
  • Final Document of the Synod of the Catholic Diocese of Khartoum, 1991. [noting "oppression and persecution of Christians"]
  • Islamisation and Arabisation, and other repressive measures of the Government].
  • Khalidi, Walid. "All that Remains: The Palestinian Villages cupied and Depopulated by Israel in 1948." 1992. ISBN 0-88728-224-5
  • The Myth of Persecution: How Early Christians Invented a Story of Martyrdom by Candida R. Moss, HarperOne, 2013. ISBN 978-0-06-2104526-6
  • Sudan – A Cry for Peace, published by Pax Christi International, Brussels, Belgium, 1994
  • Sudan – Refugees in their own country: The Forced Relocation of Squatters and Displaced People from Khartoum, in Volume 4, Issue 10, of News from Africa Watch, 10 July 1992.
  • Human Rights Violations in Sudan, by the Sudan Human Rights Organization, February 1994. [accounts of widespread torture, ethnic cleansing and crucifixion of pastors].
  • Pax Romana statement of Macram Max Gassis, Bishop of El Obeid, to the Fiftieth Session of the UN Commission on Human Rights, Geneva, February 1994 [accounts of widespread destruction of hundreds of churches, forced conversions of Christians to Islam, concentration camps, genocide of the Nuba people, systematic rape of women, enslavement of children, torture of priests and clerics, burning alive of pastors and catechists, crucifixion and mutilation of priests].
  • The Persian conquest of Jerusalem in 614CE compared with Islamic conquest of 638CE


  1. ^ Pilli, Toivo. "In the first three centuries, the Christian apostolic church endured regular (though not constant) persecution at the hand of the Roman authorities". "Christians as Citizens of a Persecuting State". Journal of European Baptist Studies. September 1, 2006.
  2. ^ Open Doors: The worst 50 countries for persecution of Christians
  3. ^ Open Doors: Weltverfolgungsindex 2012, p. 2
  4. ^ Philpott, Daniel, Pope Francis and Religious Freedom, Washington, DC: Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs 
  5. ^ Wand, John Williams Charles A History of the Early Church to AD 500, p. 12, Routledge 1990
  6. ^ a b c d e f Wand, John Williams Charles A History of the Early Church to AD 500, p. 13, Routledge 1990
  7. ^ Burke, John J., Characteristics Of The Early Church, p.101, Read Country Books 2008
  8. ^ Acts 4:1–22, 5:17–42, 6:8–7:60, 22:30–23:22
  9. ^ Walter Laqueur (2006): The Changing Face of Antisemitism: From Ancient Times to the Present Day, Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-530429-2. p.46-48
  10. ^ Nero Ch 38
  11. ^ In the earliest extant manuscript, the second Medicean, the e in "Chrestianos", Chrestians, has been changed into an i; cf. Gerd Theißen, Annette Merz, Der historische Jesus: ein Lehrbuch, 2001, p. 89. The reading Christianos, Christians, is therefor doubtful. On the other hand, Suetonius (Claudius 25) uses the same "e" transliteration of the Greek Krystos, meaning the anointed one, and associates it with a troublemaker among the Jews
  12. ^ Nero 16
  13. ^ Tertullian's readership was more likely to have been Christians, whose faith was reinforced by Tertullian's defenses of faith against rationalizations.
  14. ^   apud deMause, Lloyd (2002). "Ch. 9. The Evolution of Psyche and Society. Part III.". The Emotional Life of Nations. New York: Karnac. ISBN . Both Christians and Jews "engaged in a contest and reflection about the new-fangled practice of martyrdom,"191 even unto suicide. Jesus, too, says John, really committed suicide, and Augustine spoke of "the mania for self-destruction" of early Christians.192 Roman authorities tried hard to avoid Christians because they "goaded, chided, belittled and insulted the crowds until they demanded their death."193 One man shouted to the Roman officials: "I want to die! I am a Christian," leading the officials to respond: "If they wanted to kill themselves, there was plenty of cliffs they could jump off."194 But the Christians, following Tertullian's dicta that "martyrdom is required by God," forced their own martyrdom so they could die in an ecstatic trance: "Although their tortures were gruesome, the martyrs did not suffer, enjoying their analgesic state."195
    191. Daniel Boyarin, Dying for God: Martyrdom and the Making of Christianity and Judaism. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999, p. 40.
    192. Arthur J. Droge and James D. Tabor, A Noble Death: Suicide and Martyrdom Among Christians and Jews in Antiquity. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1992, p. 5.
    193. Arthur F. Ide, Martyrdom of Women: A Study of Death Psychology in the Early Christian Church to 301 CE. Garland: Tangelwuld, 1985, p. 21.
    194. Ibid., p. 136.
    195. Ibid., pp. 146, 138.
  15. ^  
  16. ^ Eusebius. "Texts on Bar Kochba: Eusebius". Retrieved 14 September 2014. 
  17. ^ "OCA - Hieromartyr Simeon the Bishop in Persia, and those with him in Persia". 17 April 2013. Retrieved 14 October 2013. 
  18. ^ Peter Heather & John Matthews, Goths in the Fourth Century, pp. 96ff
  19. ^ "Historians back BBC over Jewish massacre claim | The Jewish Chronicle". Retrieved 14 September 2014. 
  20. ^ a b Abrahamson et al. The Persian conquest of Jerusalem in 614 compared with Islamic conquest of 638. [1].
  21. ^ a b c R. W. THOMSON Historical commentary by JAMES HOWARD-JOHNSTON Assistance from TIM GREENWOOD. (1999). The Armenian History Attributed to Sebeos. Liverpool University Press.  
  22. ^ a b The Persian Conquest of Jerusalem (614 CE) – an archeological assessment by Gideon Avni, Director of the Excavations and Surveys Department of the Israel Antiquities Authority.
  23. ^ Edward Lipiński (2004). Itineraria Phoenicia. Peeters Publishers. pp. 542–543.  
  24. ^ Kohen, Elli (2007). History of the Byzantine Jews: A Microcosmos in the Thousand Year Empire. University Press of America. p. 36.  
  26. ^  
  27. ^ Horowitz, Elliott S. (2006). Reckless Rites: Purim and the Legacy of Jewish Violence. Princeton University Press. p. 241.  
  28. ^ "Human Skeletal Remains from the Mamilla cave, Jerusalem". Yossi Nagar. Retrieved 8 January 2014. 
  29. ^ Khanbaghi, Aptin (2006). The fire, the star and the cross: minority religions in medieval and early modern Iran. I.B.Tauris.  
  30. ^ "Quodlibeta: Pinker tackles the Albigensian Crusade". Retrieved 14 September 2014. 
  31. ^ Massacre of the Pure, Time, 28 April 1961
  32. ^ "European Wars, Tyrants, Rebellions and Massacres (800–1700 CE)". Retrieved 29 June 2011. 
  33. ^ The Spanish Inquisition, 1478-1614: An Anthology of Sources - Google Books.  
  34. ^ Howse, Christopher (12 June 2009). "Why Queen Mary wanted to burn". London: The Daily Telegraph. 
  35. ^ Jay, Antony, ed. (2012). "Elizabeth I 1533–1603 English monarch, Queen of England and Ireland from 1558". The Oxford Dictionary of Political Quotations (4th ed.).  
  36. ^ Maryvale Institute. "History of the Catholic Church in England (16th – 19th Century)". Retrieved 28 March 2014. 
  37. ^ Laws in Ireland for the Suppression of Popery at University of Minnesota Law School
  38. ^ The preaching of Islam: a history of the propagation of the Muslim faith By Sir Thomas Walker Arnold, pg. 134–135
  39. ^ "Mr. Ye Xiaowen, China's Religions Retrospect and Prospect, Hong Kong, 19 February 2001". Retrieved 29 June 2011. 
  40. ^ Stephen G. Haw (2003). A traveller's history of China. Interlink Books. p. 172.  
  41. ^ Henry McAleavy (1967). The modern history of China. Praeger. p. 165. Retrieved 28 June 2010. 
  42. ^ Sterling Making of America Project (1914). The Atlantic monthly, Volume 113 By Making of America Project. Atlantic Monthly Co. p. 80. Retrieved 28 June 2010. 
  43. ^ Jonathan Fenby (2005). Chiang Kai Shek: China's Generalissimo and the Nation He Lost. Carroll & Graf Publishers. p. 126.  
  44. ^ Diana Lary (1974). Region and nation: the Kwangsi clique in Chinese politics, 1925–1937. Cambridge University Press. p. 98.  
  45. ^ Don Alvin Pittman (2001). Toward a modern Chinese Buddhism: Taixu's reforms. University of Hawaii Press. p. 146.  
  46. ^ Diana Lary (1974). Region and nation: the Kwangsi clique in Chinese politics, 1925–1937. Cambridge University Press. p. 99.  
  47. ^ Mullins, Mark R. (1990). "Japanese Pentecostalism and the World of the Dead: a Study of Cultural Adaptation in Iesu no Mitama Kyokai". Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 17 (4): 353–374. 
  48. ^ Naramoto, p. 401.
  49. ^ "Anti-Christian Violence on the Rise in India | Human Rights Watch". 1 October 1999. Retrieved 14 October 2013. 
  50. ^ "Deportation & The Konkani Christian Captivity at Srirangapatna (1784 Feb. 24th Ash Wednesday)".  
  51. ^ Forrest 1887, pp. 314–316
  52. ^ The Gentleman's Magazine 1833, p. 388
  53. ^ "Christianity in Mangalore".  
  54. ^ John B. Monteiro. "Monti Fest Originated at Farangipet – 240 Years Ago!". Daijiworld Media Pvt Ltd Mangalore. Retrieved 28 April 2009. 
  55. ^ Bowring 1997, p. 126
  56. ^ Scurry & Whiteway 1824, p. 103
  57. ^ Scurry & Whiteway 1824, p. 104
  58. ^ Account of a Surviving Captive, A Mr. Silva of Gangolim (Letter of a Mr. L.R. Silva to his sister, a copy of which was given by an advocate, M.M. Shanbhag, to the author, Severino da Silva, and reproduced as Appendix No. 74: History of Christianity in Canara (1965))
  59. ^ K.L. Bernard, Kerala History , pp. 79
  60. ^ William Dalrymple White Mughals (2006) p28
  61. ^ Latreille, A. FRENCH REVOLUTION, New Catholic Encyclopedia v. 5, pp. 972–973 (Second Ed. 2002 Thompson/Gale) ISBN 0-7876-4004-2
  62. ^ SPIELVOGEL, Jackson Western Civilization: Combined Volume p. 549, 2005 Thomson Wadsworth
  63. ^ Tallet, Frank Religion, Society and Politics in France Since 1789 p. 1, 1991 Continuum International Publishing
  64. ^ a b c d Tallet, Frank Religion, Society and Politics in France Since 1789 p. 10, 1991 Continuum International Publishing
  65. ^ Lewis, Gwynne The French Revolution: Rethinking the Debate p.96 1993 Routledge, ISBN 0-415-05466-4
  66. ^ Tallet, Frank Religion, Society and Politics in France Since 1789 p. 11, 1991 Continuum International Publishing
  67. ^ Joes, Anthony James Resisting Rebellion: The History and Politics of Counterinsurgency 2006 University Press of Kentucky ISBN 0-8131-2339-9. p. 52-53
  68. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition "Wars Of The Vendee"
  69. ^ 27 September 2007 Comments (27 September 2007). "What are the educational options for British children moving to France?". London: Telegraph. Retrieved 29 June 2011. 
  70. ^ Markham, James M. (17 June 1989). "In a Corner of France, Long Live the Old Regime". New York Times. Retrieved 29 June 2011. 
  71. ^ "Jones, Adam Genocide: A Comprehensive Introduction p.7 (Routledge/Taylor & Francis Publishers Forthcoming 2006)" (PDF). Retrieved 29 June 2011. 
  72. ^ "Three State and Counterrevolution in France by Charles Tilly". Retrieved 29 June 2011. 
  73. ^ Furlaud, Alice (9 July 1989). "Vive la Contre-Revolution!". New York Times. Retrieved 29 June 2011. 
  74. ^ McPhee, Peter Review of Reynald Secher, A French Genocide: The Vendée H-France Review Vol. 4 (March 2004), No. 26
  75. ^ Jonassohn, Kurt and Karin Solveig Bjeornson Genocide and Gross Human Rights Violations p. 208, 1998, Transaction Publishers, ISBN 0-7658-0417-4.
  76. ^ a b c d e [2]
  77. ^ The Plight of Religious Minorities: Can Religious Pluralism Survive? – Page 51 by United States Congress
  78. ^ The Armenian Genocide: Wartime Radicalization Or Premeditated Continuum – Page 272 edited by Richard Hovannisian
  79. ^ Not Even My Name: A True Story – Page 131 by Thea Halo
  80. ^ The Political Dictionary of Modern Middle East by Agnes G. Korbani
  81. ^ a b World Christian trends, AD 30-AD 2200, p.230-246 Tables 4–5 & 4–10 By David B. Barrett, Todd M. Johnson, Christopher R. Guidry, Peter F. Crossing NOTE: They define 'martyr' on p235 as only including christians killed for faith and excluding other christians killed
  82. ^ Ruslan V. Olkhovskiy. "Soviet persecution of Mennonites, 1929–1941". Retrieved 29 June 2011. 
  83. ^ President of Lithuania: Prisoner of the Gulag a Biography of Aleksandras Stulginskis by Afonsas Eidintas Genocide and Research Center of Lithuania ISBN 9986-757-41-X / 9789986757412 / 9986-757-41-X pg 23 "As early as August 1920 Lenin wrote to E. M. Sklyansky, President of the Revolutionary War Soviet: "We are surrounded by the greens (we pack it to them), we will move only about 10–20 versty and we will choke by hand the bourgeoisie, the clergy and the landowners. There will be an award of 100,000 rubles for each one hanged." He was speaking about the future actions in the countries neighboring Russia.
  84. ^ Christ Is Calling You: A Course in Catacomb Pastorship by Father George Calciu Published by Saint Hermans Press April 1997 ISBN 978-1-887904-52-0
  85. ^ History of the Orthodox Church in the History of Russian Dimitry Pospielovsky 1998 St Vladimir's Press ISBN 0-88141-179-5 pg 291
  86. ^ A History of Marxist-Leninist Atheism and Soviet Antireligious Policies, Dimitry Pospielovsky Palgrave Macmillan (December 1987) ISBN 0-312-38132-8
  87. ^ Daniel Peris Storming the Heavens: The Soviet League of the Militant Godless Cornell University Press 1998 ISBN 978-0-8014-3485-3
  88. ^ "Sermons to young people by Father George Calciu-Dumitreasa. Given at the Chapel of the Romanian Orthodox Church Seminary". The Word online. Bucharest. 
  89. ^ The Washington Post Anti-Communist Priest Gheorghe Calciu-Dumitreasa by Patricia Sullivan Washington Post Staff Writer Sunday, 26 November 2006; Page C09
  90. ^ a b Ostling, Richard (24 June 2001). "Cross meets Kremlin". TIME Magazine. Retrieved 3 July 2007. 
  91. ^ Krauze, Enrique, Mexico: biography of power : a history of modern Mexico, 1810–1996, p. 418, Harper Collins 1998
  92. ^ Richards, Michael D. Revolutions in World History p. 30 (2004 Routledge) ISBN 0-415-22497-7
  93. ^ a b Van Hove, Brian Blood-Drenched Altars Faith & Reason 1994
  94. ^ Scheina, Robert L. Latin America's Wars: The Age of the Caudillo, 1791–1899 p. 33 (2003 Brassey's) ISBN 1-57488-452-2
  95. ^ Ruiz, Ramón Eduardo Triumphs and Tragedy: A History of the Mexican People p.393 (1993 W. W. Norton & Company) ISBN 0-393-31066-3
  96. ^ Sanderson, Steven E., Agrarian populism and the Mexican state: the struggle for land in Sonora, p. 102, Univ. of California Press 1981
  97. ^ Matthew Butler Popular piety and political identity in Mexico's Cristero Rebellion, p. 201
  98. ^ Feldman, Noah (6 January 2008). "What Is It About Mormonism?".  
  99. ^ "Chapter Sixteen: Missouri Persecutions and Expulsion", Church History in the Fulness of Times, Student manual (Religion 341, 342, and 343),  
  100. ^  
  101. ^ Petrecca, Laura (21 September 2013). "39 die in Kenya mall siege; hostages still held". USA Today. 
  102. ^ Campbell, Gwyn (October 1991). "The state and pre-colonial demographic history: the case of nineteenth century Madagascar". Journal of African History 23 (3): 415–445. 
  103. ^ Laidler (2005)
  104. ^ Cousins, W.E. (1877–1878). "The Sunday Magazine for Family Reading" 1. London: Daldy, Isbister & Co. pp. 405–410. 
  105. ^ a b Julio de la Cueva, "Religious Persecution, Anticlerical Tradition and Revolution: On Atrocities against the Clergy during the Spanish Civil War" Journal of Contemporary History 33.3 (July 1998): 355.
  106. ^ Payne, Stanley G., A History of Spain and Portugal p. 647
  107. ^ Dilectissima Nobis, 9–10
  108. ^ Dilectissima Nobis, 12
  109. ^ Dilectissima Nobis, 21
  110. ^ David Mitchell, The Spanish Civil War (New York: Franklin Watts, 1983), 45.
  111. ^ David Mitchell, The Spanish Civil War (New York: Franklin Watts, 1983), 46.
  112. ^ Payne, Stanley Franco and Hitler: Spain, Germany, and World, p. 215, 2008 Yale Univ. Press
  113. ^ a b Payne, Stanley Franco and Hitler: Spain, Germany, and World, p. 13, 2008 Yale Univ. Press
  114. ^ a b Payne, Stanley Spanish Catholicism: An Historical Overview, p. 186,1984 University of Wisconsin Press
  115. ^ "Religion: Protestant Persecution". Time. 21 April 1941. Retrieved 22 May 2010. 
  116. ^ Wood, James Edward Church and State in the Modern World, p. 3, 2005 Greenwood Publishing
  117. ^ Sharkey, Word for Word/The Case Against the Nazis; How Hitler's Forces Planned To Destroy German Christianity, New York Times, 13 January 2002
  118. ^ The Nazi Master Plan: The Persecution of the Christian Churches, Rutgers Journal of Law and Religion, Winter 2001, publishing evidence compiled by the O.S.S. for the Nuremberg war-crimes trials of 1945 and 1946
  119. ^ Griffin, Roger Fascism's relation to religion in Blamires, Cyprian, World fascism: a historical encyclopedia, Volume 1, p. 10, ABC-CLIO, 2006: "There is no doubt that in the long run Nazi leaders such as Hitler and Himmler intended to eradicate Christianity just as ruthlessly as any other rival ideology, even if in the short term they had to be content to make compromises with it."
  120. ^
  121. ^ Bendersky, Joseph W., A concise history of Nazi Germany, p. 147, Rowman & Littlefield, 2007: "Consequently, it was Hitler's long rang goal to eliminate the churches once he had consolidated control over his European empire."
  122. ^ Shirer, William L., Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany, p. p 240, Simon and Schuster, 1990: "And even fewer paused to reflect that under the leadership of Rosenberg, Bormann and Himmler, who were backed by Hitler, the Nazi regime intended eventually to destroy Christianity in Germany, if it could, and substitute the old paganism of the early tribal Germanic gods and the new paganism of the Nazi extremists."
  123. ^ Fischel, Jack R., Historical Dictionary of the Holocaust, p. 123, Scarecrow Press, 2010: "The objective was to either destroy Christianity and restore the German gods of antiquity or to turn Jesus into an Aryan."
  124. ^ Dill, Marshall, Germany: a modern history, p. 365, University of Michigan Press, 1970: "It seems no exaggeration to insist that the greatest challenge the Nazis had to face was their effort to eradicate Christianity in Germany or at least to subjugate it to their general world outlook."
  125. ^ Wheaton, Eliot Barculo The Nazi revolution, 1933–1935: prelude to calamity:with a background survey of the Weimar era, p. 290, 363, Doubleday 1968: The Nazis sought "to eradicate Christianity in Germany root and branch."
  126. ^ , Michael BerenbaumPersecution and Resistance of Jehovah's Witnesses During the Nazi-Regime
  127. ^ Hesse, Hans (2001). Persecution and resistance of Jehovah's Witnesses during the Nazi regime, 1933–1945. Berghahn Books. p. 10.  
  128. ^ JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES: PERSECUTION 1870–1936 on the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum website.
  129. ^ Una McGahern, Palestinian Christians in Israeli: State Attitudes towards non-Muslims in a Jewish State, 2011 [3]
  130. ^ , American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese of the U.S.A. Volume LXIV, Number 1, January 27, 2008""The Church Messenger. 
  131. ^ Luke Baker, Atef Sa'ad (September 8, 2006). "After a century of struggle, a new monastery rises". Reuters. 
  132. ^ William Dalrymple (21 October 1994). "IF I FORGET THEE, 0 JERUSALEM". The Spectator. p. 14. a settler had poisoned his dogs, attacked him with an axe, then incinerated his remains with a grenade. 
  133. ^ Ken Parry, David J. Melling, Dimitri Brady, Sidney H. Griffith and John F. Healey (2001). The Blackwell Dictionary of Eastern Christianity.  
  134. ^ Yisca Harani, David Gurevich. "Philoumenos of Jacob's Well: New martyr and modern anti-semitism". Perhaps the fact that the murderer was a Jewish observant person [...] 
  135. ^ Cornelis Hulsman. "Jacob’s Well; the tragic end of a Christian Palestinian shrine". Religious News Service from the Arab World. A mentally ill Israeli from Tel Aviv was charged with the murder, but before the murder Father Philloumenos had received many phone calls from Jewish zealots saying he must leave Jacob’s Well. He refused and was murdered. 
  136. ^ Rupert Shortt (2013). Christianophobia: A Faith Under Attack. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2013.  
  137. ^ (Greek) 29/11 Hμέρα εορτασμού της Ελληνο-σιωνιστικής... φιλίας.... Retrieved 28 December 2013.
  138. ^ William Dalrymple (1999). From the Holy Mountain: A Journey Among the Christians of the Middle East.  
  139. ^ "LETTERS No Israeli conspiracy". The Spectator. 1995. After a police investigation the murderer was caught, tried and convict- ed. He was a Jew, not a 'settler' 
  140. ^ Frances D'Emillo (16 December 2010). "Pope calls Christians the most persecuted". Associated Press. Retrieved 7 January 2011. 
  141. ^ Vatican to UN: 100 thousand Christians killed for the faith each year
  142. ^ Godfrey Yogarajah (2008). "Disinformation, discrimination, destruction and growth: A case study on persecution of Christians in Sri Lanka".  
  143. ^ Bruce Thornton (July 25, 2013). "Christian Tragedy in the Muslim World". Defining Ideas (Hoover institution). Retrieved 23 July 2013. 
  144. ^ "Christians: The world's most persecuted people - Comment - Voices - The Independent". Retrieved 14 September 2014. 
  145. ^ "Major Religions Ranked by Size". Retrieved 14 September 2014. 
  146. ^ "Christian Persecution Rankings, Where Christian Persecution Exists | World Watch List". 24 January 2013. Retrieved 14 October 2013. 
  147. ^
  148. ^
  149. ^
  150. ^ "Afghan on trial for Christianity". BBC News. 20 March 2006. Retrieved 22 May 2010. 
  151. ^ Al Jazeera English – Archive – Afghan Convert's Trial Put In Doubt
  152. ^ Killed for being Christian, The Independent, 21 October 2008
  153. ^ The Associated Press (11 January 2010). "Protestant Church Burned in Algeria". New York Times (New York, New York: 
  154. ^ "Funerals for victims of Egypt clashes". BBC News. 4 January 2000. Retrieved 29 June 2011. 
  155. ^ "Knife attacks on Egypt churches". BBC News. 14 April 2006. Retrieved 29 June 2011. 
  156. ^ El Deeb, Sarah (4 August 2012). "Riot leaves an Egyptian village without Christians". ABC News. Associated Press. Retrieved 5 August 2012. 
  157. ^ Hendawi, Hamza (April 7, 2013). "Christians being targeted by kidnappers in Egypt".  
  158. ^ "Islamism's Other Victims: The Tragedy of East Timor". FrontPage Magazine. 25 November 2002. Retrieved 1 October 2010. 
  159. ^ Wilson, Chris (2008). Ethno-religious violence in Indonesia: from soil to God. Volume 18 of Routledge contemporary Southeast Asia series. Psychology Press. p. 103.  
  160. ^ Moynahan, Brian (2003). The Faith: A History of Christianity. Random House, Inc. p. 728.  
  161. ^ [4]
  162. ^ "Muslim mob attacks Indonesia Christians". BBC News. 28 April 2002. Retrieved 29 June 2011. 
  163. ^ "United States Commission on International Religious Freedom Report". Retrieved 29 June 2011. 
  164. ^ Stephen Fitzpatrick, Jakarta correspondent (9 November 2006). "'"Beheaded girls were Ramadan 'trophies. Retrieved 29 June 2011. 
  165. ^ Islamic Militants in Indonesia Jailed for Beheading Christian Girls
  166. ^ "Indonesians jailed for beheadings". BBC News. 21 March 2007. Retrieved 29 June 2011. 
  167. ^ Profil Gereja, Jakarta correspondent (11 September 2011). "Ambon Violent Clashes Between Christian and Muslims, Triggered by Provocative Text Message". Retrieved 25 May 2012. 
  168. ^ "Second Bogor Church Under Threat by Officials in Indonesia". 23 December 2011. Retrieved 28 March 2014. 
  169. ^ "3 years on, GKI Yasmin church remains victim of absence of the state". 24 December 2011. 
  170. ^ "20 churches in Aceh face threat of demolition". 12 June 2012. 
  171. ^ "Regent orders churches closed, destroyed in Aceh". 13 June 2012. 
  172. ^ "Iran Religious and Ethnic Minorities: Discrimination in Law And Practice". Human Rights Watch. 1997. Retrieved 22 March 2007. 
  173. ^ Banks, Adelle M. (28 September 2011). "Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani's potential execution rallies U.S. Christians".  
  174. ^ "Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani Acquitted of Apostasy, Released". 
  175. ^ Sabah, Zaid (23 March 2007). "Christians, targeted and suffering, flee Iraq". Retrieved 29 June 2011. 
  176. ^ "14th century annihilation of Iraq". Retrieved 29 June 2011. 
  177. ^ NUPI – Centre for Russian Studies
  178. ^ "Christians live in fear of death squads". 19 October 2006. Retrieved 29 June 2011. 
  179. ^ Time magazine:Iraq's persecuted Christians. Retrieved 13 May 2009.
  180. ^ "CBS". CBS News. Retrieved 29 June 2011. 
  181. ^ Jonathan Steele in Mosul (30 November 2006). "'We're staying and we will resist'". London: Guardian. Retrieved 29 June 2011. 
  182. ^ Lee, Andrew (2 April 2007). "Iraq's Christians Flock to Lebanon". Retrieved 29 June 2011. 
  183. ^ "Christians Fleeing Violence in Iraq". 7 May 2007. Retrieved 29 June 2011. 
  184. ^ "Iraq refugees chased from home, struggle to cope". Cnn. 20 June 2007. Retrieved 29 June 2011. 
  185. ^ U.N.: 100,000 Iraq refugees flee monthly. Alexander G. Higgins, Boston Globe, 3 November 2006
  186. ^ Ann McFeatters: Iraq refugees find no refuge in America. Seattle Post-Intelligencer 25 May 2007
  187. ^ a b "Fr Ragheed Ganni – The Independent (14 June 2007)". London: Retrieved 29 June 2011. 
  188. ^ "Who are the Chaldean Christians?". BBC News. 13 March 2008. Retrieved 22 May 2010. 
  189. ^ "Iraqi Christians mourn after church siege kills 58", 2010-11-01. Retrieved 11 November 2010.
  190. ^ "Call for Sunni state in Iraq"., 2006-10-15. Retrieved 7 November 2010. Registration required.
  191. ^ Michael Youash (19 April 2011). "At the Tipping Point: A Nineveh Plain Province and Related Solutions to Iraq’s Indigenous Minority Crisis". Retrieved 14 September 2014. 
  192. ^ "Iraq Sustainable Democracy Project". 19 February 2008. Retrieved 14 October 2013. 
  193. ^ a b Tarabay, Jamal (22 July 2014). "In Iraq, Christians fleeing Mosul take refuge with Kurds".  
  194. ^ "Nearly all gone".  
  195. ^ "5-Year-Old Christian Boy Cut in Half by ISIS Terrorists". 
  196. ^ Report by the Special Rapporteur on the
  197. ^ "Akidah: Ajaran Sesat". Nota Tingkatan 5 (in Malay) (Chief Minister's Department, Sabah State Government). Retrieved 26 July 2008. 
  198. ^ a b AHMAD FAROUK MUSA, MOHD RADZIQ JALALUDDIN, AHMAD FUAD RAHMAT, EDRY FAIZAL EDDY YUSUF (22 October 2011). "What is Himpun about?". The Star. Retrieved 16 December 2011. 
  199. ^ """Malay converts to Christianity "cannot renounce Islam. AsiaNews (AsiaNews C.F.). 11 September 2005. Retrieved 16 December 2011. 
  200. ^ "Q&A: Pakistan's controversial blasphemy laws". BBC. Retrieved 15 November 2012. 
  201. ^ "Christians often victims under Pakistan's blasphemy law". Retrieved 15 November 2012. 
  202. ^ "Religious Intolerance In Pakistan". Retrieved 29 June 2011. 
  203. ^ "Christians massacred in Pakistan". BBC News. 28 October 2001. Retrieved 29 June 2011. 
  204. ^ Fuhail, Rana (18 March 2002). "Five killed as grenades are thrown into church". London: Telegraph. Retrieved 29 June 2011. 
  205. ^ "Pakistan militants kill six in Christian school attack". London: Independent. 6 August 2002. Retrieved 29 June 2011. 
  206. ^ "Pakistan militants kill three nurses after launching grenade attack on churchgoers". London: Independent. 10 August 2002. Retrieved 29 June 2011. 
  207. ^ "Gunmen 'execute' Pakistan Christians". 25 September 2002. Retrieved 29 June 2011. 
  208. ^ Westcott, Kathryn (25 September 2002). "Fears of Pakistan's Christians". BBC News. Retrieved 29 June 2011. 
  209. ^ "Thousands mourn girls in Pakistan church attack". London: Independent. 27 December 2002. Retrieved 29 June 2011. 
  210. ^ "Asien, Pakistan: Sangla Hill attack continues to draw condemnation". 2 December 2005. Retrieved 29 June 2011. 
  211. ^ The News International: Persecution of Christians not a new phenomenon. September 4, 2012.
  212. ^ Dwoskin, Elizabeth (24 September 2007). "Killing of Missionary Couple in Pakistan Leaves Tears and Questions Stateside". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 May 2010. 
  213. ^ [5]
  214. ^ Pakistan Christians die in unrest, BBC, 1 August 2009
  215. ^ Retrieved 5 May 2011.
  216. ^ "Christian's Death Verdict Spurs Holy Row In Pakistan". NPR. 14 December 2010. Retrieved 29 June 2011. 
  217. ^ "In Pakistan, Christianity Earns a Death Sentence". Time. 4 December 2010. 
  218. ^ [6] Pakistan Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti shot dead, 2 March 2011.
  219. ^ Gunmen kill sole Christian minister in Pakistan government Toronto Star, 2 March 2011.
  220. ^ Ibrahim, Yousseff (8 February 2007). "Assignment Forbidden To Some".  
  221. ^ "Pilgrimage presents massive logistical challenge for Saudi Arabia". CNN. 2001. Archived from the original on 15 March 2008. Retrieved 27 April 2008. 
  222. ^ "Bibles, Crucifixes Not Allowed into Saudi Arabia". 10 August 2007. Retrieved 29 June 2011. 
  223. ^ Persecuted Countries: Saudi Arabia – – International Christian Concern
  224. ^ "Saudi Arabia: Writer Faces Apostasy Trial | Human Rights Watch". 13 February 2012. Retrieved 14 October 2013. 
  225. ^ "Almost expunged: Somalia's Embattled Christians". October 22, 2009. Retrieved 22 October 2009. 
  226. ^ "Currently active cases: Sudan". Retrieved 29 June 2011. 
  227. ^ "Slavery, Abduction and Forced Servitude in Sudan". US Department of State. 22 May 2002. Retrieved 20 March 2014. 
  228. ^ "'"Muslims Hack Off Christian Man's Head After Forcing Him to Deny Jesus Christ and Salute Mohammed as 'Messenger of God. 
  229. ^ Lawrence D. Jones (14 July 2012). "Tunisian Man Beheaded For Converting to Christianity". The Christian Post. 
  230. ^ Halki’s Chapel of the Transfiguration left in ruins, 17 November 2007
  231. ^ Monastery on Halki wrecked Kathimerini, English Edition, 16 November 2007.
  232. ^ "Apostolic Journey of Pope Benedict to Turkey". 2006-11-29. Retrieved 22 February 2008. 
  233. ^ Christian convert from Islam shot dead in Kashmir,SperoNews.
  234. ^ "IN SEARCH OF ASSURANCE" by K. K. Alavi [ online]
  235. ^ Convert from Islam in India Remains on Death List,Christian Examiner
  236. ^ Low, Alaine M.; Brown, Judith M.; Frykenberg, Robert Eric (eds.) (2002). Christians, Cultural Interactions, and India's Religious Traditions. Grand Rapids, Mich: W.B. Eerdmans. p. 134.  
  237. ^ Ram Puniyani (2003). Communal Politics: Facts Versus Myths. SAGE. p. 173.  
  238. ^ Ram Puniyani (2003). Communal Politics: Facts Versus Myths. SAGE. p. 176.  
  239. ^ Subba, Tanka Bahadur; Som, Sujit; Baral, K. C (eds.) (2005). Between Ethnography and Fiction: Verrier Elwin and the Tribal Question in India. New Delhi: Orient Longman.  
  240. ^ Veliath, Cyril (Summer 2004). "Hinduism in Japan". Inter-Religio (Tokyo Japan:  
  241. ^ "TOI". The Times of India. 13 January 2008. Retrieved 29 June 2011. 
  242. ^ Rudolf C Heredia. Changing Gods: Rethinking Conversion in India. Penguin Books. 2007. ISBN 0-14-310190-0
  243. ^ a b "US rights report slams India for anti-Christian violence". 27 February 1999. Retrieved 17 December 2007. 
  244. ^ Ram Puniyani (2003). Communal Politics: Facts Versus Myths. SAGE. p. 167.  
  245. ^ Mohammad, Faisal (4 August 2006). "Christian anger at conversion law 04/08/2006". BBC News. Retrieved 29 June 2011. 
  246. ^ Gujarat to ban faith conversions, by BBC, 2003
  247. ^ "Conversions harder in India state 26/07/2006". BBC News. 26 July 2006. Retrieved 29 June 2011. 
  248. ^ TOI on International Religious Freedom Report 2003, released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour of the US State Department
  249. ^ Haaretz [7]
  250. ^ The Jerusalem Post [8]
  251. ^ The Guardian [9]
  252. ^ Times of Israel[10]
  253. ^ International Business Times [11]
  254. ^ Haaretz [12]
  255. ^ Institute for Middle East Understanding [13]
  256. ^ The Constitution of the Kingdom of Bhutan. Royal Government of Bhutan. 2008. p. 14. 
  257. ^ Bhutan, Open Doors.
  258. ^ Reports on Situation of Christians in Bhutan, Bhutan4Christ.
  259. ^ Leadership change in Bhutan sparks hope for ministry, Mission Network News, 26 December 2006.
  260. ^ Bhutanese Christians Barred from Attending Worship Services, Gospel For Asia, July 5, 2007
  261. ^ 'New Research Shows Christians Worldwide Facing Increasing Hostility in Practising Their Faith', Says Open Doors, Press Release, 13 February 2009.
  262. ^ "Nigeria Christian / Muslim Conflict". 27 April 2005. Retrieved 5 June 2007. 
  263. ^ a b c "World Evangelical Alliance". Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
  264. ^ a b c "". Retrieved 19 June 2013. 
  265. ^ "30 temples, 25 churches remain damaged in Ki'linochchi". Retrieved 28 March 2014. 
  266. ^ a b China's Christians suffer for their faith BBC, 9 November 2004. Retrieved 25 May 2009.
  267. ^  (Archived by WebCite at
  268. ^ AFP, Google (15 April 2011). "Laos, Vietnam troops kill four Hmong Christians: NGO". Agence France-Presse. Retrieved 6 May 2011. 
  269. ^ Carstensen, Tom (23 September 2014). "(da) Kristne chikaneres og overfaldes i Danmark".  


See also

Christians from the Middle East living in Copenhagen are attacked and threatened by Muslim gangs. The Danish police force in Copenhagen fears the problem is more prevalent than reports of the crime to police since victim fear further reprisals for contacting authorities.[269]



The establishment of French Indochina once led to a high Christian population. Regime changes throughout the 19th and 20th centuries led to some increased persecution of minority religious groups. Killings, torture or imprisonment and forced starvation of local groups are common in parts of Vietnam and Laos, especially in more recent years.[268]

Indochina region

North Korea leads the list of 50 countries in which Christians are persecuted at current time according to a watch list by Open Doors.[267]

North Korea

Gong Shengliang, head of the South China Church, was sentenced to death in 2001. Although his sentence was commuted to a jail sentence, Amnesty International reports that he has been tortured.[266]

In 2009, Christians must worship in registered, regulated churches. According to the Jubilee Campaign, an interdenominational lobby group, about 300 Christians caught attending unregistered "house churches" were in jail in 2004.[266]

The communist government of the People's Republic of China tries to maintain tight control over all religions, so the only legal Christian Churches (Three-Self Patriotic Movement and Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association) are those under the Communist Party of China control. Churches which are not controlled by the government are shut down, and their members are imprisoned.


In addition to this, the state has been fully backing the construction of Buddhist Shrines and destruction of Churches and Hindu Temples in the North and the East where the majority of the people are non-Sinhalese and practice different religions.[263][265]

Authorities are targeting particularly non-traditional or evangelical churches, apparently due to the suspicion that they might become part of the country’s civil society and pose a threat to the incumbent government in the future.

Catholic World News cited a bishop May 1 in Sri Lanka who said the cause of the uptick in persecution is the growth of what he calls the “Buddhist Taliban.”[264]

Last summer, a 14-year-old boy, the only Christian in his class at school, reportedly was severely beaten and threatened with death if he did not stop spreading Christianity.

Also in March, more than 10 churches faced persecution in the form of threats, disturbances, harassment or attacks, mostly from Buddhist monks but sometimes with the assistance of the police or a mob, ICC said.[264]

The same pastor had been accosted and threatened by a group of Buddhists telling him to close down the church late last year, the human rights organization said. The protesters returned the next day and attacked the building during a worship service, injuring the pastor.[264]

In March, a large mob attacked a pastor’s home while the family was away and began damaging the property, demanding an end to the church services in the home, ICC said May 5.

While registration of Buddhist religious organizations is not mandatory in Sri Lanka, the government has been contemplating bringing all religious minorities under regulation for over a year. Churches last year complained they received a circular stating that all new constructions or continuation of places of worship will need prior approval from the Ministry of Religious Affairs.

Many churches have reported that administrative and police officials have ordered them not to operate any longer because they have not been “authorized” by the state.[263]

Christians along with other religious minorities[263] have been subjected to increased persecution and attacks owing to the widespread mono-ethnic Sinhala Buddhist Nationalism in Sri Lanka and the instinctive support extended by the state for such acts. Several right-wing forces in the country including those which enjoy direct government backing has been in the frontline in propagating anti-Christian sentiments and attacking Christians and their chapels.

Sri Lanka

The presence of Roman Catholics and other Christians in Muslim-dominated areas is in part a result of program of population re-distribution; this resulted hostility to Muslims, and Christians are persecuted.


In the 11 Northern states of Nigeria that have introduced the Islamic system of law, the Sharia, sectarian clashes between Muslims and Christians have resulted in many deaths, and some churches have been burned. More than 30,000 Christians were displaced from their homes in Kano, the largest city in northern Nigeria.[262] Boko Haram conducts terrorist attacks against Christians.


According to the "Open Doors" ONG, "Persecution in Buddhist Bhutan mainly comes from the family, the community, and the monks who yield a strong influence in the society. Cases of atrocities (i.e. beatings) have been decreasing in number; this may continue as a result of major changes in the country, including the implementation of a new constitution guaranteeing greater religious liberty."[261]

After 2008

  • In 2007: According to Gospel for Asia, "the government has recently begun clamping down on Christians by barring some congregations from meeting for worship. This has caused at least two Gospel for Asia-affiliated churches to temporarily close their doors. (...) Under Bhutan law, it is illegal to attempt to convert people from the country’s two predominant religions [Buddhism and Hinduism]."[260]
  • In 2006: According to Mission Network News, "it's illegal for a Buddhist to become a Christian and church buildings are forbidden. (...) Christians in Bhutan are only allowed to practice their faith at home. Those who openly choose to follow Christ can be expelled from Bhutan and stripped of their citizenship."[259]
  • In 2002: According to a 2002 report cited by the Bhutanese Christians Services Centre NGO, "the 65,000 Christians [in the country] have only one church at their disposal."[258]

Before 2008

Bhutan is a conservative Buddhist country. Article 7 of the 2008 constitution guarantees religious freedom, but also forbids conversion "by means of coercion or inducement".[256] According to Open Doors, to many Bhutanese this hinders the ability of Christians to proselytize.[257]


There has also been criticism to the claim that Israel is the only country that Christian communities have been able to thrive in the Middle East by Palestinian Christians, with such statements being called a "manipulation" of the facts.[254] Members of the Palestinian Christian community claim that such statements attempt to hide the discrimination that Palestinians face within Israel due to discriminatory laws as well as the effect of the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza on the Christian population in these areas.[255]

Christian clergymen are regularly spat on in Israel and churches and cemeteries are defaced by Jewish nationalists.[249][250][251][252] When the doors of the Latrun Trappist monastery were set aflame and the phrase "Jesus was a monkey" was painted on its walls, the Holy See reacted with a rare official complaint against the Israeli government's inaction.[253]


In its controversial annual human rights reports for 1999, the United States Department of State criticised India for "increasing societal violence against Christians."[243] The report listed over 90 incidents of anti-Christian violence, ranging from damage of religious property to violence against Christians pilgrims.[243] In 1997, twenty-four such incidents were reported.[244] Recent waves of anti-conversion laws passed by some Indian states like Chhattisgarh,[245] Gujarat,[246] Madhya Pradesh[247] is claimed to be a gradual and continuous institutionalization of Hindutva by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour of the US State Department.[248]

The forcible conversion" activities undertaken by missionaries. These claims have been disputed by Christians[236] a belief described as mythical[237] and propaganda by Sangh Parivar;[238] the Parivar objects in any case to all conversions as a "threat to national unity".[239] Religious scholar Cyril Veliath of Sophia University stated that the Hindu attacks on Christians were the work of individuals motivated by "disgruntled politicians or phony religious leaders" and where religion is concerned the typical Hindu is an "exceptionally amicable and tolerant person (...) Hinduism as a religion could well be one of the most accommodating in the world. Rather than confront and destroy, it has a tendency to welcome and assimilate."[240] According to Rudolf C Heredia, religious conversion was a critical issue even before the creation of the modern state. Mohandas K. Gandhi opposed the Christian missionaries calling them as the remnants of colonial Western culture.[241] He claimed that by converting into Christianity, Hindus have changed their nationality.[242]

A Christian girl who was burned during religious violence in Orissa.

Muslims in India who convert to Christianity have been subjected to harassment, intimidation, and attacks by Muslims. In Jammu and Kashmir, the only Indian state with a Muslim majority, a Christian convert and missionary, Bashir Tantray, was killed, allegedly by militant Islamists in 2006.[233] A Christian priest, K.K. Alavi, a 1970 convert from Islam,[234] thereby raised the ire of his former Muslim community and received many death threats. An Islamic terrorist group named "The National Development Front" actively campaigned against him.[235] In the southern state of India, Kerala which has an ancient pre-Islamic community of Eastern Rite Christians, Islamic Terrorists chopped off the hand of Professor T.J. Joseph due to allegation of blasphemy of prophet.

Tippu Sultan (1795)captured nearly 60,000 people from Mangalorean Catholic community. 7,000 escaped. Tippu Sultan’s also did lot of damages and destruction to the first century malankara (Syrian) St. Thomas Christians in Kerala. Tippu Sultan’s army set fire to the church at Palayoor and attacked the Ollur Church in 1790. Along with the old Syrian seminary at Angamaly, many churches in the Malabar and Cochin were damaged. The Mor Sabor church at Akaparambu and the Martha Mariam Church attached to the old seminary at Angamaly were brunt.


In February 2006, Father Andrea Santoro was murdered in Trabzon.[232]

[231].Ecumenical Patriarch There was no advanced warning given for the demolition work and it was stopped after appeals by the [230] The


Since the Tunisian revolution of 2011, there has been religious violence consisting of Muslim attacks on Christians in Tunisia.[229]


Some 13 nuns and three workers from a Greek Orthodox monastery in the Christian village of Maaloula were also kidnapped. [228]

Al-Nusra took over Maaloula in September 2013 and their fighters reportedly attacked Christian homes killing at least a dozen people, and burning down a church. Those who remained were forced to convert to Islam according to the report.

During the Syrian Civil War, armed gangs opposed to the government of Bashar al-Assad having been killing Christians; most notably in Maloula.

While religious persecution has been reltively low level compared to other Middle Eastern nations, many of the Christians have been pressured into identifying as Arab Christians, with the Assyrian and Armenian groups retaining their native languages.

Syria has been home to Christianity from the 1st to 3rd centuries AD onwards. The majority of Syrian Christians are once Western Aramaic speaking but now largely Arabic speaking Arameans-Syriacs, with smaller minorities of Eastern Aramaic speaking Assyrians and Armenians also extant.


During the Second Sudanese Civil War people were taken into slavery; estimates of abductions range from 14,000 to 200,000. Abduction of Dinka women and children was common.[227]

It should also be noted that Sudan's several civil wars (which often take the form of genocidal campaigns) are often not purely religious in nature, but also ethnic, as many black Muslims, as well as Muslim Arab tribesmen, have also been killed in the conflicts.

In Sudan, it is estimated that over 1.5 million Christians have been killed by the Janjaweed, the Arab Muslim militia, and even suspected Islamists in northern Sudan since 1984.[226]


Christians in Somalia face persecution associated with the ongoing civil war in that country.[225]


Saudi Arabia is an Islamic state that practices Wahhabism and restricts all other religions, including the possession of religious items such as the Bible, crucifixes, and Stars of David.[222] Christians are arrested and lashed in public for practicing their faith openly.[223] Strict sharia is enforced. Muslims are forbidden to convert to another religion. If one does so and does not recant, they can be executed.[224]

"Non-Muslim Bypass:" Non-Muslims are barred from entering Mecca.[220][221]

Saudi Arabia

On 2 March 2011, the only Christian minister in the Pakistan government was shot dead. Shahbaz Bhatti, Minister for Minorities, was in his car along with his niece. Around 50 bullets struck the car. Over 10 bullets hit Bhatti. Before his death, he had publicly stated that he was not afraid of the Taliban's threats and was willing to die for his faith and beliefs. He was targeted for opposing the anti-free speech "blasphemy" law, which punishes insulting Islam or its Prophet.[218] A fundamentalist Muslim group claimed responsibility.[219]

On 8 November 2010, a Christian woman from Punjab Province, Asia Noreen Bibi, was sentenced to death by hanging for violating Pakistan's blasphemy law. The accusation stemmed from a 2009 incident in which Bibi became involved in a religious argument after offering water to thirsty Muslim farm workers. The workers later claimed that she had blasphemed the Muhammed. As of 8 April 2011, Bibi is in solitary confinement. Her family has fled. No one in Pakistan convicted of blasphemy has ever been executed. A cleric has offered $5,800 to anyone who kills her.[216][217]

In August 2009, six Christians, including four women and a child, were burnt alive by Muslim militants and a church set ablaze in Gojra, Pakistan when violence broke out after alleged desecration of a Qur'an in a wedding ceremony by Christians.[214][215]

One year later, in August 2007, a Christian missionary couple, Rev. Arif and Kathleen Khan, were gunned down by militant Islamists in Islamabad. Pakistani police believed that the murders was committed by a member of Khan's parish over alleged sexual harassment by Khan. This assertion is widely doubted by Khan's family as well as by Pakistani Christians.[212][213]

On 5 June 2006, a Pakistani Christian, Nasir Ashraf, was assaulted for the "sin" of using public drinking water facilities near Lahore.[211]

In November 2005, 3,000 militant Islamists attacked Christians in Sangla Hill in Pakistan and destroyed Roman Catholic, Salvation Army and United Presbyterian churches. The attack was over allegations of violation of blasphemy laws by a Pakistani Christian named Yousaf Masih. The attacks were widely condemned by some political parties in Pakistan.[210]

In December 2002, three young girls were killed when a hand grenade was thrown into a church near Lahore on Christmas Day.[209]

On 25 September 2002, two terrorists entered the "Peace and Justice Institute", Karachi, where they separated Muslims from the Christians, and then murdered seven Christians by shooting them in the head.[207][208] All of the victims were Pakistani Christians. Karachi police chief Tariq Jamil said the victims had their hands tied and their mouths had been covered with tape.

In August 2002, grenades were thrown at a church in the grounds of a Christian hospital in north-west Pakistan, near Islamabad, killing three nurses.[206]

In August 2002, masked gunmen stormed a Christian missionary school for foreigners in Islamabad; six people were killed and three injured. None of those killed were children of foreign missionaries.[205]

In March 2002, five people were killed in an attack on a church in Islamabad, including an American schoolgirl and her mother.[204]

In October 2001, gunmen on motorcycles opened fire on a Protestant congregation in the Punjab, killing 18 people. The identities of the gunmen are unknown. Officials think it might be a banned Islamic group.[203]

Ayub Masih, a Christian, was convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to death in 1998. He was accused by a neighbor of stating that he supported British writer Salman Rushdie, author of The Satanic Verses. Lower appeals courts upheld the conviction. However, before the Pakistan Supreme Court, his lawyer was able to prove that the accuser had used the conviction to force Masih's family off their land and then acquired control of the property. Masih has been released.[202]

In Pakistan, 1.5% of the population are Christian. Pakistani law mandates that "blasphemies" of the Qur'an are to be met with punishment. At least a dozen Christians have been given death sentences,[200] and half a dozen murdered after being accused of violating blasphemy laws. In 2005, 80 Christians were behind bars due to these laws.[201]


There are, however, cases in which a Muslim will adopt the Christian faith without declaring his/her apostasy openly. In effect, they are practising Christians, but legally Muslims.[199]

It has been the practice of the church in Malaysia to not actively proselytize to the Muslim community. Christian literature are required by law to carry a caption "for non-Muslims only". Article 11(4) of the Federal Constitution of Malaysia allows the states to prohibit the propagation of other religions to Muslims, and most (with the exception of Penang, Sabah, Sarawak and the Federal Territories) have done so. There is no well researched agreement on the actual number of Malaysian Muslim converts to Christianity in Malaysia.[198] According to the latest population census released by the Malaysian Statistics Department, there are none, according to Ustaz Ridhuan Tee, they are 135 and according to Tan Sri Dr Harussani Zakaria, they are 260,000.[198] See also Status of religious freedom in Malaysia.

In Malaysia, although Islam is the official religion, Christianity is tolerated under Article 3 and Article 11 of the Malaysian constitution. But at some point, the spread of Christianity is a particular sore point for the Muslim majority, the Malaysian government has also persecuted Christian groups who were perceived to be attempting to proselytize Muslim audiences.[196] Those showing interest in the Christian faith or other faith practices not considered orthodox by state religious authorities are usually sent either by the police or their family members to state funded Faith Rehabilitation Centres (Malay: Pusat Pemulihan Akidah) where they are counseled to remain faithful to Islam and some states have provisions for penalties under their respective Shariah legislations for apostasy from Islam.[197]


During an attack on the Assyrian Christian town of Qaraqosh, a 5-year-old boy, who's the son of a founding member of St. George's Anglican Church in Baghdad, was slaughtered by Islamic State terrorists, better known as ISIS, who cut the boy in half.[195]

During the 2014 Northern Iraq offensive, the Islamic State of Iraq issued a decree in July that all indigenous Assyrian Christians in the area of its control must leave the lands they have occupied for 5000 years, be subject to extortion in the form of a a special tax of approximately $470 per family, convert to Islam, or be murdered. Many of them took refuge in nearby Kurdish-controlled regions of Iraq.[193] Christian homes have been painted with the Arabic letter ن (nūn) for Nassarah (an Arabic word Christian) and a declaration that they are the property of the Islamic State. On 18 July, the Jihadists seemed to have changed their minds and announced that all Christians would need to leave or be killed. Most of those who left had their valuable possessions stolen by the Islamists.[194] According to Patriarch Louis Sako, there are no Christians remaining in the once Christian dominated city of Mosul for the first time in the nation's history, although this situation has not been verified.[193]

In 2013, Assyrian Christians were departing for their ancestral heartlands in the Nineveh plains, around Mosul, Arbil and Kirkuk. Assyrian militias were established to protect villages and towns.[191][192]

In 2010 there was an attack on the Our Lady of Salvation Syriac Catholic cathedral[189] of Baghdad, Iraq, that took place during Sunday evening Mass on 31 October 2010. The attack left at least 58 people dead, after more than 100 had been taken hostage. The al-Qaeda-linked Sunni insurgent group.[190] The Islamic State of Iraq claimed responsibility for the attack; though Shia cleric Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani and Iraq's highest Catholic cleric condemned the attack, amongst others.

In 2007, Chaldean Catholic Church priest Fr. Ragheed Aziz Ganni and subdeacons Basman Yousef Dawid, Wahid Hanna Esho, and Gassan Isam Bidawed were killed in the ancient city of Mosul.[187] Ganni was driving with his three deacons when they were stopped and demanded to convert to Islam, when they refused they were shot.[187] Ganni was the pastor of the Chaldean Church of the Holy Spirit in Mosul and a graduate from the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Angelicum in Rome in 2003 with a licentiate in ecumenical theology. Six months later, the body of Paulos Faraj Rahho, archbishop of Mosul, was found buried near Mosul. He was kidnapped on 29 February 2008 when his bodyguards and driver were killed.[188] See 2008 attacks on Christians in Mosul for more details.

As of 21 June 2007, the UNHCR estimated that 2.2 million Iraqis had been displaced to neighbouring countries, and 2 million were displaced internally, with nearly 100,000 Iraqis fleeing to Syria and Jordan each month.[184][185] A 25 May 2007 article notes that in the past seven months 69 people from Iraq have been granted refugee status in the United States.[186]

In 2006, the number of Assyrian Christians dropped to between 500,000 to 800,000, of whom 250,000 lived in Baghdad.[181] An exodus to the Assyrian homeland in northern Iraq, and to neighboring countries of Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey left behind closed parishes, seminaries and convents. As a small minority, who until recently were without a militia of their own, Assyrian Christians were persecuted by both Shi'a and Sunni Muslim militias, Kurdish Nationalists, and also by criminal gangs.[182][183]

In 2004, five churches were destroyed by bombing, and Christians were targeted by kidnappers and Islamic extremists, leading to tens of thousands of Christians fleeing to Assyrian regions in the north or leaving the country altogether.[179][180]

In 1987, the last Iraqi census counted 1.4 million Christians.[178] They were tolerated under the secular regime of Saddam Hussein, who even made one of them, Tariq Aziz his deputy. However persecution by Saddam Hussein continued against the Christians on an ethnic, cultural and racial level, as the vast majority are Mesopotamian Eastern Aramaic speaking Ethnic Assyrians (aka Chaldo-Assyrians). The Assyrian -Aramaic language and written script was repressed, the giving of Hebraic/Aramaic Christian names or Akkadian/Assyro-Babylonian names forbidden (Tariq Aziz's real name is Michael Youhanna for example), and Saddam exploited religious differences between Assyrian denominations such as Chaldean Catholics, Assyrian Church of the East, Syriac Orthodox Church, Assyrian Pentecostal Church and Ancient Church of the East, in an attempt to divide them. Many Assyrians and Armenians were ethnically cleansed from their towns and villages under the al Anfal Campaign in 1988, despite this campaign being aimed primarily at Kurds.

The Hamidian Masacres and Assyrian Genocide (1914-18) were followed by a further series of killings in 1933, with the Simele Massacre which accounted for the slaughter of thousands of Assyrian Christians.

According to UNHCR, although Christians (almost exclusively ethnic Assyrians and Armenians) now represent less than 5% of the total Iraqi population, they make up 40% of the refugees now living in nearby countries.[175] Northern Iraq remained predominantly Assyrian, Eastern Aramaic speaking and Christian until the destructions of Tamerlane at the end of the 14th century. The Assyrian Church of the East has its origin in what is now South East Turkey and Assuristan (Sassanid Assyria). By the end of the 13th century there were twelve Nestorian dioceses in a strip from Peking to Samarkand. When the 14th-century Muslim warlord of Turco-Mongol descent, Timur (Tamerlane), conquered Persia, Mesopotamia and Syria, the civilian population was decimated. Timur had 70,000 Assyrian Christians beheaded in Tikrit, and 90,000 more in Baghdad.[176][177]


Though Iran recognizes Assyrian and Armenian Christians as ethnic and religious minorities (along with Jews and Zoroastrians) and they have representatives in the Parliament, after the 1979 Revolution, Muslim converts to Christianity (typically to Protestant Christianity) have been arrested and sometimes executed.[172] Youcef Nadarkhani is an Iranian Christian pastor who was arrested on charges of Apostasy in October 2009 and was subsequently sentenced to death. In June 2011 the Iranian Supreme Court overruled his death sentence on condition that he recant, which he refused to do.[173] In a reversal on 8 of September 2012 he was acquitted of the charges of apostasy and extortion, and sentenced to time served for the charge of "propaganda against the regime," and immediately released.[174]

The Assyrian Genocide and Armenian Genocide of World War I conducted by invading Turks drastically reduced the Christian population of Iran, as they did with Turkey, Iraq and to a lesser degree north east Syria.


In Aceh Province, the only province in Indonesia with autonomous Islamic Shari'a Law, 20 churches in Singkil Regency face threat of demolition due to gubernatorial decree requires the approval of 150 worshippers, while the ministrial decree also requires the approval of 60 local residents of different faiths. On 30 April 2012, all the 20 churches (17 Protestant churches, 2 Catholic churches and one place of worship belonging to followers of a local nondenominational faith) have been closed down by order, from the Acting Regent which also ordered members of the congregations to tear down the churches by themselves. Most of the churches slated for demolition were built in 1930s and 1940s. The regency has 2 churches open, both built after 2000.[170][171]

In December 2011, a second church in Bogor, West Java was ordered to halt its activities by the local mayor. Another Catholic church had been built there in 2005. Previously a Christian church, GKI Taman Yasmin, had been sealed. Local authorities refused to lift a ban on the activities of the church, despite an order from the Supreme Court of Indonesia.[168] Local authorities have persecuted the Christian church for three years. While the state has ordered religious toleration, it has not enforced these orders.[169]

In Jemaah Islamiah or Laskar Jihad to impose Sharia,[161][162] with such groups attacking Christians and destroying over 600 churches.[163] In 2006 three Christian girls were beheaded as retaliation for previous Muslim deaths in Christian-Muslim rioting.[164] The men were imprisoned for the murders, including Jemaah Islamiyah's district ringleader Hasanuddin.[165] On going to jail, Hasanuddin said, "It's not a problem (if I am being sentenced to prison), because this is a part of our struggle."[166] Later on November 2011, another attack from Islamic community happen in Ambon. Muslims set fire to several Christian houses, forcing the occupants to leave the buildings.[167]

In January 1999[158][159] tens of thousands died when Muslim gunmen terrorized Christians who had voted for independence in East Timor.[160]

Although Christians are minority in Indonesia, Christianity is one of the 6 official religions of Indonesia and religious freedom is permitted. But there are some religious tensions and persecutions in the country, and most of the tensions and persecutions are civil and not by state.


From 2011 to 2013, more than 150 kidnappings, for ransom, of Christians had been reported in the Minya governorate.[157]

In July 2012, Dahshur's entire Christian community, which some estimate to be as many as 100 families, fled to nearby towns due to sectarian violence. The violence began in a dispute over a badly ironed shirt, which in turn escalated into a fight in which a Christian burned a Muslim to death, which in turn sparked a rampage by angry Muslims, while the police failed to act. At least 16 homes and properties of Christians were pillaged, some were torched, and a church was damaged during the violence.[156]

In April 2006, one person was killed and twelve injured in simultaneous knife attacks on three Coptic churches in Alexandria.[155]

[154] Foreign missionaries are allowed in the country if they restrict their activities to social improvements and refrain from


Islamists looted, and burned to the ground, a Pentecostal church in Tizi Ouzou on 9 January 2010. The pastor was quoted as saying that worshipers fled when local police left a gang of local rioters unchecked.[153]

On the night of 26–27 March 1996, seven monks from the monastery of Tibhirine in Algeria, belonging to the Roman Catholic Trappist Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance (O.C.S.O.), were kidnapped in the Algerian Civil War. They were held for two months, and were found dead on 21 May 1996. The circumstances of their kidnapping and death remain controversial; the Armed Islamic Group (GIA) claims responsibility for both, but the then French military attaché, retired General Francois Buchwalter, reports that they were accidentally killed by the Algerian army in a rescue attempt, and claims have been made that the GIA itself was a cat's paw of Algeria's secret services (DRS).


In [152]


Christians have faced increasing levels of persecution in the Muslim world. Muslim nations in which Christian populations have suffered acute discrimination, persecution and in some cases death include; Iraq, Iran, Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Palestinian Territories, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Libya, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, Qatar, Uzbekistan, Nigeria, Tunisia, Jordan, Oman, Algeria, Mali, Kuwait, Morocco, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Niger, Tanzania, Kazakhstan, Tadjikistan, Turkmenistan, Mauritania, Eritrea, Bahrain, Comoros, Djibouti, Brunei, Tanzania, Maldives, Kenya, Chad and United Arab Emirates. [147][148][149]

Persecution of Christians in the Muslim world


  1.  North Korea
  2.  Somalia
  3.  Syria
  4.  Iraq
  5.  Afghanistan
  6.  Saudi Arabia
  7.  Maldives
  8.  Pakistan
  9.  Iran
  10.  Yemen

Every year, the Christian non-profit organization Open Doors publishes a list of the top 50 countries where persecution of Christians for religious reasons is worst. The 2014 list has the following countries as its top 10 offenders:[146]

According to Pope Benedict XVI, Christians are the most persecuted group in the contemporary world.[140] The Holy See has reported that over 100,000 Christians are violently killed annually because of some relation to their faith.[141] According to the World Evangelical Alliance, over 200 million Christians are denied fundamental human rights solely because of their faith.[142] Of the 100-200 million Christians under assault, the majority are persecuted in Muslim-dominated nations.[143] Christians suffer numerically more than any other faith groups or groups without faith in the world. Of the world's three largest religions Christians are the most proportionally persecuted with 80% of all acts of religious discrimination being directed at Christians[144] who only make up 33% of the world's population.[145]

Current situation (1989 to present)

On November 16, 1979, the Archimandrite Philoumenos of the Greek Orthodox monastery of Jacob's Well near the city of Samaria (now Nablus), in the West Bank, was found killed. Over a couple of weeks the local Jewish settlers had been coming to pray there and demanded that Christian symbols be removed.[130] Despite this, the settlers threatened him.[131] After his guard left home, Philoumenos was hacked to death with axes by Jewish Zionists,[132][133][134][135] Philoumenos eyes were gouged out, and the fingers of his right hand were hacked off.[136] A grenade was also thrown into the church, which was ransacked.[137] An Israeli from Tel Aviv had been charged with this and other murders.[138][139]

During the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, the fate of the Christian Palestinians was similar to that of the Muslims, in term of expulsions, village destructions and land confiscations. However, Christian churches generally avoided destruction or defilement during the conquest of the West Bank out of fear of International pressure against Israel, notably by the Vatican. For the same reason, Israeli authorities have a more "lenient" attitude to the right of return of the Christian refugees.[129]


Political and religious animosity against Jehovah's Witnesses has at times led to mob action and government oppression in various countries, including Cuba, the United States, Canada and Singapore. The religion's doctrine of political neutrality has led to imprisonment of members who refused conscription (for example in Britain during World War II and afterwards during the period of compulsory national service).

Historian Hans Hesse said, "Some five thousand Jehovah's Witnesses were sent to concentration camps where they alone were 'voluntary prisoners', so termed because the moment they recanted their views, they could be freed. Some lost their lives in the camps, but few renounced their faith".[127][128]

In Nazi Germany in the 1930s and early 1940s, Jehovah's Witnesses refused to renounce political neutrality and were placed in concentration camps as a result. The Nazi government gave detained Jehovah's Witnesses the option of release by signing a document indicating renouncement of their faith, submission to state authority, and support of the German military.[126]

Since Charles Taze Russell's Bible Students group had formed after the American Civil War there was no formal position on military service till 1914, when the body came out against military service. Jehovah's Witnesses are forbidden by their religion to engage in violence, or to join the military.

The Buchenwald concentration camp is one of the camps in which Jehovah's Witnesses prisoners labored.

Jehovah's Witnesses

In the aftermath of the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, Nazi authorities repressed the Czechoslovak Orthodox Church which had given aid to the assassins.

Polish and German Christians persecuted by the Nazis. In the Dachau concentration camp alone, 2,600 Catholic priests from 24 different countries were killed.[76] Outside mainstream Christianity, Jehovah's Witnesses were direct targets of the Holocaust, for their refusal to swear allegiance to the Nazi government. Many Jehovah's Witnesses were given the chance to deny their faith and swear allegiance to the state, but few agreed. Over 12,000 Witnesses were sent to the concentration camps, and estimated 2,500–5,000 died in the Holocaust.

The Germans also closed seminaries and convents persecuting monks and nuns. In Pomerania, all but 20 of the 650 priests were shot or sent to concentration camps. 80% of the Catholic clergy and five of the bishops of Warthegau were sent to concentration camps in 1939. In the city of Breslau, 49% of its Catholic priests were killed, and in Chełmno, 48%. 108 of them are regarded as blessed martyrs.[76] Among them, Maximilian Kolbe was canonized as a saint.

The Catholic Church was suppressed in Poland. Between 1939 and 1945, an estimated 3,000 members, 18% of the Polish clergy,[76] were murdered; 1,992 of which died in concentration camps. In the annexed territory of Reichsgau Wartheland, it was even harsher than elsewhere. Churches were systematically closed, and most priests were either killed, imprisoned, or deported to the General Government.

Dissenting Christians went underground and formed the Confessing Church, which was persecuted as a subversive group by the Nazi government. Many of its leaders were arrested and sent to concentration camps, and left the underground mostly leaderless. Church members continued to engage in various forms of resistance, including hiding Jews during the Holocaust and various attempts, largely unsuccessful, to prod the Christian community to speak out on the part of the Jews.

The Third Reich founded their own version of Christianity called Positive Christianity which made major changes in its interpretation of the Bible which said that Jesus Christ was the son of God, but was not a Jew and claimed that Christ despised Jews, and that the Jews were the ones solely responsible for Christ's death. Thus, the Nazi government consolidated religious power, using allies to consolidate Protestant churches into the Protestant Reich Church. The syncretist project of Positive Christianity was abandoned by 1940.

Hitler and the Nazis had some support from Christian communities, mainly due to a common cause against the anti-religious Communists. Once in power, the Nazis moved to consolidate their power over the German churches and bring them in line with Nazi ideals. Many historians say that Hitler had a general covert plan, which some say existed even before the Nazis' rise to power, to destroy Christianity within the Reich, which was to be accomplished through control and subversion of the churches and to be completed after the war.[117][118][119][120][121][122][123][124][125]

Nazi Germany

While the Catholic Church was declared official and enjoyed a close relation to the state, parts of the Basque clergy harbored nationalist ideas opposed to Spanish centralism and were persecuted and imprisoned in a "Concordate jail" reserved for criminal clergy.

In Franco's authoritarian Spanish State (1936–1975), Protestantism was deliberately marginalized and persecuted. During the Civil War, Franco's regime persecuted the country's 30,000[114] Protestants, and forced many Protestant pastors to leave the country. Once authoritarian rule was established, non-Catholic Bibles were confiscated by police and Protestant schools were closed.[115] Although the 1945 Spanish Bill of Rights granted freedom of private worship, Protestants suffered legal discrimination and non-Catholic religious services were not permitted publicly, to the extent that they could not be in buildings which had exterior signs indicating it was a house of worship and that public activities were prohibited.[114][116]


The terror has been called the "most extensive and violent persecution of Catholicism in Western History, in some way even more intense than that of the French Revolution."[113] The persecution drove Catholics to the Nationalists, even more than would have been expected, as these defended their religious interests and survival.[113]

Exceptions were Biscay and Gipuzkoa where the Christian Democratic Basque Nationalist Party, after some hesitation, supported the Republic while halting persecution in the areas held by the Basque Government. All Catholic churches in the Republican zone were closed. The desecration was not limited to Catholic churches, as synagogues and Protestant churches were also pillaged and closed. Some small Protestant churches were spared.[112]

In addition to murders of clergy and the faithful, destruction of churches and desecration of sacred sites and objects were widespread. On the night of 19 July 1936 alone, some fifty churches were burned.[110] In Barcelona, out of the 58 churches, only the Cathedral was spared, and similar desecrations occurred almost everywhere in Republican Spain.[111]

During the Spanish Civil War of 1936–1939, and especially in the early months of the conflict, individual clergymen and entire religious communities were executed by leftists, which included communists and anarchists. The [105]

Persecution of Catholics mostly, before and at the beginning, of the Spanish Civil war (1936–1939), involved the murder of almost 7,000 priests and other clergy, as well as thousands of lay people, by sections of nearly all the leftist groups because of their faith.[105][106] The Republican government which had come to power in Spain in 1931 was strongly anti-Catholic, prohibiting religious education – even in private school, prohibiting any education by religious institutes, seizing Church property and expelling the Jesuits from the country. On 3 June 1933 Pope Pius XI issued the encyclical Dilectissima Nobis, in which he described the expropriation of all Church buildings, episcopal residences, parish houses, seminaries and monasteries. By law, they became property of the Spanish State, to which the Church had to pay rent and taxes to continuously use these properties. "Thus the Catholic Church is compelled to pay taxes on what was violently taken from her"[107] Religious vestments, liturgical instruments, statues, pictures, vases, gems and similar objects necessary for worship were expropriated as well or desecrated.[108] Numerous churches and temples were destroyed by burning, after they were nationalized. All private schools run by Catholic religious institutes were expropriated. The purpose was to create solely secular schools there instead.[109] Pope Pius XI, who faced similar persecutions in the USSR and Mexico, called on Spanish Catholics to defend themselves against the persecution with all legal means.



In 1838, it was estimated that as many as 100,000 people in Imerina died as a result of the tangena ordeal, constituting roughly 20% of the population.[102] contributing to a strongly unfavorable view of Ranavalona's rule in historical accounts.[103] Malagasy Christians would remember this period as ny tany maizina, or "the time when the land was dark". Persecution of Christians intensified in 1840, 1849 and 1857; in 1849, deemed the worst of these years by British missionary to Madagascar W.E. Cummins (1878), 1,900 people were fined, jailed or otherwise punished in relation to their Christian faith, including 18 executions.[104]

Queen Ranavalona I (reigned 1828–1861) issued a royal edict prohibiting the practice of Christianity in Madagascar, expelled British missionaries from the island, and sought to stem the growth of conversion to Christianity within her realm. Many Malagasy citizens were put to death during this period as a consequence of their refusal to recant their Christian faith. Far more, however, were punished in other ways: many were required to undergo the tangena ordeal, while others were condemned to hard labor or the confiscation of their land and property, and many of these consequently died. The tangena ordeal was commonly administered to determine the guilt or innocence of an accused person for any crime, including the practice of Christianity, and involved ingestion of the poison contained within the nut of the tangena tree (Cerbera odollam). Survivors were deemed innocent, while those who perished were assumed guilty.

Christian martyrs burned at the stake by Ranavalona I in Madagascar


In 2013, Islamic terrorists cornered people in a shopping center in Nairobi using guns and grenades. They instructed Muslims to leave. Then they shot those remaining non-Muslims, killing 39, and wounding 150.[101]


. Reed Smoot hearings, and the Edmunds-Tucker Act, Edmunds Act, Reynolds v. United States, Poland Act, Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act, Utah War, including the Mormon Corridor. Over the next 63 years several actions by the federal government were directed against Mormons in the territory of Utah, the area became the US Mexican-American War and surrounding areas. After the Salt Lake Valley to settle in the Great Plains crossed the Mormon pioneers 70,000 [100] The Mormons subsequently fled to

The Latter Day Saint Movement, (Mormons) have been persecuted since their founding in the 1830s. This persecution drove them from New York and Ohio to Missouri, where they continued to suffer violent attacks. In 1838, Gov. Lilburn Boggs declared that Mormons had made war on the state of Missouri, and "must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated or driven from the state"[98] At least 10,000 were expelled from the State. In the most violent of the altercations at this time, the Haun's mill Massacre, 17 were murdered by an anti-Mormon mob and 13 were wounded.[99] The Extermination Order sign by Governor Boggs was not formally invalidated until 25 June 1976, 137 years after being signed.


Weary of the persecution, in many parts of the country a popular rebellion called the Cristero War began (so named because the rebels felt they were fighting for Christ himself). The effects of the persecution on the Church were profound. Between 1926 and 1934 at least 40 priests were killed.[93] Where there were 4,500 priests serving the people before the rebellion, in 1934 there were 334 priests licensed by the government to serve fifteen million people, the rest having been eliminated by emigration, expulsion and assassination.[93][94] By 1935, 17 states had no priest at all.[95] In the second Cristero rebellion (1932), the Cristeros took particular exception to the socialist education, which Calles had also implemented but which President Cardenas had added to the 1917 Mexican Constitution.[96][97]

When the Church publicly condemned the anticlerical measures which had not been strongly enforced, the atheist President Plutarco Calles sought to vigorously enforce the provisions and enacted additional anti-Catholic legislation known as the Calles Law. At this time, some in the United States government, considering Calles' regime Bolshevik, started to refer to Mexico as "Soviet Mexico".[92]

In the 19th century, Mexican President anticlerical laws). When the first embassy of the Soviet Union in any country was opened in Mexico, the Soviet ambassador remarked that "no other two countries show more similarities than the Soviet Union and Mexico".[91]

19th and 20th century Mexico

In the Soviet Union, in addition to the methodical closing and destruction of churches, the charitable and social work formerly done by ecclesiastical authorities was taken over by the state. As with all private property, Church owned property was confiscated into public use. The few places of worship left to the Church were legally viewed as state property which the government permitted the church to use. After the advent of state funded universal education, the Church was not permitted to carry on educational, instructional activity for children. For adults, only training for church-related occupations was allowed. Outside of sermons during the celebration of the divine liturgy it could not instruct or evangelise to the faithful or its youth. Catechism classes, religious schools, study groups, Sunday schools and religious publications were all illegal and or banned. This caused many religious tracts to be circulated as illegal literature or samizdat.[64] This persecution continued, even after the death of Stalin until the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the Russian Orthodox Church has recognized a number of New Martyrs as saints, some executed during Mass operations of the NKVD under directives like NKVD Order No. 00447.

After Nazi Germany's attack on the Soviet Union in 1941, Joseph Stalin revived the Russian Orthodox Church to intensify patriotic support for the war effort. By 1957 about 22,000 Russian Orthodox churches had become active. But in 1959 Nikita Khrushchev initiated his own campaign against the Russian Orthodox Church and forced the closure of about 12,000 churches. By 1985 fewer than 7,000 churches remained active.[90]

The main target of the anti-religious campaign in the 1920s and 1930s was the Russian Orthodox Church, which had the largest number of faithful. A very large segment of its clergy, and many of its believers, were shot or sent to labor camps. Theological schools were closed, and church publications were prohibited. In the period between 1927 and 1940, the number of Orthodox Churches in the Russian Republic fell from 29,584 to less than 500. Between 1917 and 1940, 130,000 Orthodox priests were arrested. The widespread persecution and internecine disputes within the church hierarchy lead to the seat of Patriarch of Moscow being vacant from 1925 to 1943.

Christ the Savior Cathedral Moscow after reconstruction

Some actions against Orthodox priests and believers along with execution included torture being sent to prison camps, labour camps or mental hospitals.[64][89] The result of state sponsored atheism was to transform the Church into a persecuted and martyred Church. In the first five years after the Bolshevik revolution, 28 bishops and 1,200 priests were executed.[90]

The Communist regime confiscated church property, ridiculed religion, harassed believers, and propagated atheism in the schools. Actions toward particular religions, however, were determined by State interests, and most organized religions were never outlawed. It is estimated that 500,000 Russian Orthodox Christians were martyred in the gulags by the Soviet government, not including torture or other Christian denominations killed.[81]

Before and after the October Revolution of 7 November 1917 (25 October Old Calendar) there was a movement within the Soviet Union to unite all of the people of the world under Communist rule (see Communist International). This included the Eastern European bloc countries as well as the Balkan States. Since some of these Slavic states tied their ethnic heritage to their ethnic churches, both the peoples and their church were targeted for ethnic and political genocide by the Soviets and its form of State atheism.[83][84] The Soviets' official religious stance was one of "religious freedom or tolerance", though the state established atheism as the only scientific truth (see also the Soviet or committee of the All-Union Society for the Dissemination of Scientific and Political Knowledge or Znanie which was until 1947 called The League of the Militant Godless and various Intelligentsia groups).[85][86][87] Criticism of atheism was strictly forbidden and sometimes resulted in imprisonment.[88] Some of the more high profile individuals executed include Metropolitan Benjamin of Petrograd, Priest and scientist Pavel Florensky and Bishop Gorazd Pavlik.

This persecution affected the Orthodox. It also affected other groups, such as the Mennonites, who largely fled to the Americas.[82]

After the Revolution of 1917, the Bolsheviks undertook a massive program to remove the influence of the Russian Orthodox Church from the government while outlawing antisemitism in Russian society, and promoting state atheism. Tens of thousands of churches were destroyed or converted to other uses, and many members of clergy were murdered, including public executions and imprisonment for what the government termed "anti-government activities." An extensive education and propaganda campaign was undertaken to convince people, especially the children and youth, to abandon religious beliefs. This persecution resulted in the intentional murders of 500,000 Orthodox followers in the 20th century by the Soviet Union.[81]

Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact Countries


This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.