Christians 'increasingly under threat'

2013-12-25 09:05
Gallery  |  click on thumbnail to view larger image

Christmas around the world

Christians from across the globe celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.

  • Religion
    Be an eyewitness to various religions and learn about the wheel of existance, Christ's Crucifixion... Now R77.00
    buy now

Vatican City - Thousands of Christians are killed every year because of their faith and the persecution is becoming more widespread, Catholic observers said as Christmas celebrations are increasingly marred by attacks in at-risk countries.

Pope Francis addressed the killings in a recent interview saying there was "an ecumenism of blood", meaning that Christians of all denominations including Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox are targeted.

"The narrative about Christianity in the Western mind is that a Christian is rich, powerful and has massive political influence," said John Allen, a Vatican expert and author of the new book "The Global War on Christians".

"It doesn't reflect the reality. They are impoverished, linguistic and cultural minorities," he said.

Estimates on Christian deaths are contested and vary widely.

'Silence at Christmas' criticised

Out of around 2.3 billion Christians in the world, between 9 000 and 100 000 people are said to be killed because of their religion every year.

In an editorial for Italy's top-selling Corriere della Sera daily on Monday, Andrea Riccardi, founder of the Sant'Egidio Catholic charity in Rome, criticised the "silence at Christmas over the persecutions".

The US evangelical group Open Doors said the worst country for anti-Christian violence is North Korea, followed by Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Maldives, Mali, Iran, Yemen and Eritrea.

The situation was said to be worsening in Egypt, Ethiopia and Syria as well.

Open Doors has said that 100 million Christians are being persecuted - a figure that has been widely criticised for including entire communities and not individual Christians at risk for their faith.

Local issues

Some observers say the reasons for anti-Christian violence are much more varied than simply a question of faith and are often linked to a variety of local issues.

An upsurge in attacks in Central African Republic or South Sudan, for instance, is being seen as linked more to ethnic discord and battles for control of resources.

The issue is a highly sensitive one, as shown by the criticism of Allen's talk of "war on Christians" by US professor Andrew Chestnut, an expert on Pentecostalism.

"Allen has not only done a disservice to Christians around the globe suffering real repression and persecution, but has dangerously fanned the flames of religious conflict," he wrote in the Huffington Post.

Chestnut said that Allen had written about "a fictitious war that exists only on the pages and in the questionable data of certain Christian organisations".

Christians attacked by other Christians

Experts have pointed to three main types of anti-Christian violence - the main one being religious radicalism and particularly rising levels of Islamic as well as Buddhist and Hindu extremism.

Allen said there were also cases of Christians being attacked by other Christians, like US evangelicals singled out by traditionalist Catholics in Mexico.

The second threat is in states where governments see Christians as a possible subversive danger - like in Eritrea or North Korea, where tens of thousands of Christians have been imprisoned, Allen said.

There is also a persecution linked to businesses, mafia groups, paramilitaries or guerrillas that see Christian social teachings as a threat to their interests.

Read more on:    religion

Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24


ANCYL: Not voting would be blasphemy

Not voting in the forthcoming elections would be blasphemy, the ANCYL says in a statement commemorating the 50th anniversary of struggle icon Nelson Mandela's Rivonia trial speech.


Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
  • Thursday Sir Lowry's Pass - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
  • Thursday Cape Town - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Buitengracht Street
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Waterkant Street
More traffic reports...

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now! - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Apple iPad 3 Black 64GB 9.7" Tablet With WiFi & 4G

Retina Display Finally the incredible Retina display technology from the iPhone...

From R7699.00

I'm shopping for:


There may be a break through, either through quiet contemplative time to connect to your deep side or forced on you more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.