By Carey Lodge, Christian Today.
Christian persecution has dominated the news over the past year. From the escalating chaos in the Middle East to the crackdown on churches in China’s Zhejiang province, it’s been a terrible year for some of the world’s most persecuted minorities.
“The level of persecution globally is at horrifying levels,” Dr Katrina Lantos Swett, Commissioner for the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), told Christian Today. “It quite frankly stuns me that there has not been more outcry internationally amongst political leaders, opinion makers and most importantly on the part of ordinary Christians.”
Every repressive government or ideological group is threatened “above all by sincere religious faith, belief and conviction,” Lantos Swett said.
“People of faith represent the ultimate challenge to authoritarian regimes, because they freely proclaim they have allegiances more important than those of the nation state, and are very often willing to suffer the consequences of fidelity to their faith. That’s the most terrifying thing to repressive regimes.
“And of course, on the flip side of that, we see that when we have extremist religious theologies in the form of groups like ISIL, who attempt to impose their religious doctrine and rules on those who disagree with them, their brutality equals and exceeds even the most grave secular dictators. So people of sincere and genuine faith and conviction find themselves on the receiving end of terrible persecution from vicious secular dictators, and truly vicious religious oppressors like ISIS.”
With that in mind, we’ve brought together some of the stories that have stood out over the past year.