The persecution of Christians is nothing new — it’s been going on for 2,000 years. The human sacrifice for the sake of religious liberty and belief dates back to the Old Testament and into the New, including the story of Jesus himself, who was put to death as a religious radical. He was followed soon by Paul, himself one of the most brutal persecutors of Christians in the Roman Empire before his conversion. And this trend of martyrdom continues through the centuries.
“Christians in the U.S. are facing constant attacks in the media, where they are portrayed as bigoted, racist, sexist, and close-minded.”
So is 2016 different?
The International Christian Concern (ICC) just released its annual “Hall of Shame” of the countries in which Christian persecution is most prevalent.
The group put forth categories for countries that are the “Worst of the Worst,” “Core Countries,” and “New and Noteworthy.”
This past calendar year — and for the first time — the United States made the “New and Noteworthy” list, along with Mexico and Russia. While ICC acknowledges the conditions in the United States are in no way comparable to the conditions in other more violent countries such as North Korea, for instance, the fact that the U.S. has appeared on this list may be a surprise considering we are predominately Christian nation.
In the report, the ICC points to many examples of persecution against Christians here at home — including the media’s constant demonization of Christians. The group initially pointed out the ISIS terror attack on a nightclub in Orlando:
“The attack was driven by his allegiance to ISIS and desire for retribution for attacks on ISIS. Incredibly, after the attack, numerous high-profile media outlets blamed the attacks on what they perceive as the anti-LGBTQ atmosphere that Christians have created,” the report states. “In short, Christians in the U.S. are facing constant attacks in the media, where they are portrayed as bigoted, racist, sexist, and close-minded.”
The report also cites other examples: “From the case of a Christian football coach suspended for praying at the 50-yard line, to Christian business owners forced to pay a $135,000 fine for declining to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding, the number of troubling cases directed towards Christians has exploded.”
During this election cycle, many voters were swayed by Donald Trump’s commitment to appointing Supreme Court justices who vowed to uphold Christian standards and religious liberties. A CNN exit poll found that 56 percent of Trump supporters voted for him simply because of this campaign promise — and 80 percent of these individuals were white evangelicals.
Now, given the results of this 2016 study, Christians in the United States are seeing a need for religious protection.
The report confirms, of course, that “there is no comparison between the life of a Christian in the U.S. with persecuted believers overseas. ICC sees these worrying trends as an alarming indication of a decline in religious liberty in the United States.”
In North Korea, Nigeria, Iraq, and Syria, Christians are brutally murdered on a regular basis for their beliefs. The situation in some of these countries is considered religious genocide.
According to a new study cited by Massimo Introvigne, the director of the Center for Studies on New Religion, 90,000 Christians were killed worldwide in 2016 alone. The rise of persecution, according to a survey and study put out by Open Doors Christian Charity, which works closely with those persecuted in 50 countries, found that Christian persecution is at a historic high, which is likely due to the rise of radical Islamic terror.
While the persecution in other countries takes the form of beatings, rape, and death and should be acknowledged as the most dire situation for Christians worldwide, the United States is seeing a troubling rise in social persecution. The shift in sentiment affects businesses, individual liberties (freedom of speech and employment), and the legal repercussions of upholding a Christian value system. Social warfare is occurring in America, in the workplace and on college campuses — while taking the form of martyrdom and murder in various countries worldwide.