“New Age of Martyrs”
The War on Christians, which some have called a “New Age of Martyrs,” continued in 2016 with as many as 90,000 deaths. Here’s the story from the Christian Post:
Christians continue to be the most persecuted believers in the world with over 90,000 followers of Christ being killed in the last year, according to prominent Italian sociologist and author Massimo Introvigne.
In an interview with Vatican Radio, Introvigne, the founder of the independent Center for Studies on New Religions based in Turin, Italy, cited statistics compiled by the Center for Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary for a annual report that is expected to be released next month. …
Meanwhile, over 90,000 Christians have been killed in the past year, which equates to one death every 6 minutes on average, Introvigne added.
The total number of Christians killed in 2016 has actually decreased from last year’s findings of about 105,000, Introvigne relayed, adding that 70 percent of the Christians killed this year were slain in tribal conflicts in Africa. The other 30 percent was killed in terror attacks, government persecution and attacks on Christian villages across the globe.
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Response: Nearly 50,000 of the deaths happened in African tribal conflicts which pitted Muslim dominated groups and villages against tribes and villages which were Christian. In those cases religion was an important part of the conflict but maybe not the sole motivation.
However in many of those situations radical Muslim groups like Boko Haram and Al-Shabaab were involved and religion not only played a major role but the attacking groups actually claimed their understanding of Islam as their guiding motivation for their actions.
Open Doors, which monitors Christian persecution around the world, claimed that only 7,000 Christians were killed for their faith in 2016. There is a vast difference between 90,000 and 7,000. Open Doors only counts those deaths where religion was the sole or clearly stated reason for the killing. In many cases it is hard to identify the motives for attacks and killing unless the perpetrators make official statements.
It is my sense that the Open Doors figure does not represent the number of Christians who were really martyred in 2016 where religion played an important role. We will never know the actual number but it is somewhere between 7,000 and 90,000 and probably closer to the larger number.
Here are links to some of our posts on Christian persecution and deaths in recent years. Many believe that we are now in a “New Age of Martyrs” that includes nearly 100,000 deaths per year for over a decade. See my 2013 series on the War on Christians:
-An International ‘War’ on Christians?- Part I
-An International ‘War’ on Christians?- Part II
-An International ‘War’ on Christians?- Part III
-An International ‘War’ on Christians?- Part IV
-An International ‘War’ on Christians?- Part V
Also here’s my post on the Open Doors figures for 2015 which may have been even worse than 2016:
-2015: Worst Year Ever For Christian Persecution?