What is the world's most persecuted faith?

By Curtis Rittenour
Posted July 02, 2018

Here’s a question: Of all the world’s religions, which is the most dangerous faith to belong to? 

It’s a pertinent question to ask during the week in which the United States of America pioneered the original “Brexit” by declaring independence from King George III on July 4, 1776. 

One of the key reasons for establishing the 13 colonies that became the original United States was freedom of religion. Minority faiths in Britain, some driven to seek refuge in Europe, migrated to what was then the “New World” in part because they believed they could live true to their conscience without being attacked. It wasn’t the only reason—the opportunity to build a new society and find fortune across the ocean was also a powerful draw—but it was an important, even pivotal, reason. 

So back to today—which faith’s members are the most persecuted, the ones most in danger worldwide? 

You might believe that Jews today face a great deal of persecution. And, yes, anti-Semitic attacks are on the rise in Europe—in particular in France and the United Kingdom, as well as in parts of the former Soviet Union and even in the United States. 

Another faith group that could come to mind, perhaps, is that of the global Muslim community. There are contentions between Muslims and their neighbors in many parts of the world today, and some of those do trigger persecution. In Myanmar, the nation formerly known as Burma, Rohingya Muslims are being driven out of the country, if not killed outright, by Buddhists who just don’t like the idea of a multicultural society. Rohingya refugees are finding sanctuary in Bangladesh and other neighboring countries. 

But as difficult as things may be for Muslims and Jews, and even for members of the Falun Gong faith in China, there is one other faith group that tops the list for the number of nations where they’re likely to face persecution, or harassment, from either governments or social groups. Around the world, in 2016—the latest year studied—Christians were under threat in 144 countries, according to the Pew Research Center in Washington, D.C.

While Muslims were close behind, facing harassment in 142 nations, Christians led the list, as they have for the previous nine years. According to the Pew report, one particular region of the world was responsible for the highest amount of restrictions and persecutions: “Among the 25 most populous countries in the world, Egypt, Russia, India, Indonesia, and Turkey had the highest overall levels of religious restrictions,” the group indicated. “China had the highest levels of government restrictions on religion, while India had the highest levels of social hostilities involving religion.” 

The issue of religious freedom—the right to believe according to the dictates of one’s conscience, the right to share those beliefs with others, and the right to change one’s belief system—has been the bedrock of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Today, many nations that had approved the UDHR in 1948 are walking away from its precepts. 

One thing Americans can be grateful for is the continued ability of people in this country to worship as they choose or to not worship at all. Although these freedoms, according to Bible prophecy, will be removed near the end time, we can be thankful for what freedoms we have today. We can also be vigilant to spot the signs of coming oppression, sharing our faith with others while we still can. 

But what is religious liberty? What does freedom really mean? In his message “Freedom & Liberty,” Pastor Doug offers profound insights and shares what the Bible says is going to happen in the not-too-distant future. Click here to watch!

—Written by Mark A. Kellner

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