With many churches observing the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP) this weekend, here's some fresh information that might help direct those prayers.
Pew Research recently highlighted the top 10 countries with the largest number of Christians living as minorities. Here's the list (ranked by percentage of Christians, not by total number of Christians):
1) Nigeria: 78,050,000 Christians (49.3% of population)
2) Ivory Coast: 8,710,000 Christians (44.1% of population)
3) Chad: 4,560,000 Christians (40.6% of population)
4) South Korea: 14,170,000 Christians (29.4% of population)
5) Kazakhstan: 3,970,000 Christians (24.8% of population)
6) Indonesia: 23,660,000 Christians (9.9% of population)
7) Vietnam: 7,170,000 Christians (8.2% of population)
8) China: 68,410,000 Christians (5.1% of population)
9) Egypt: 4,120,000 Christians (5.1% of population)
10) India: 31,130,000 Christians (2.5% of population)
Another helpful layer of info: In many countries with the largest minorities of Christians, Pew has also asked Muslims about religious conflict.
In Nigeria, 60 percent of Muslims say religious conflict is a major problem. In Indonesia, 36 percent of Muslims say the same, as do 12 percent in Kazakhstan. Only 28 percent of Muslims in Egypt acknowledge religious conflict as a major problem, compared to Muslims in Lebanon (68 percent), Tunisia (65 percent), and the Palestinian territories (54 percent).
But perhaps more surprising is the Muslim perception of Christianity. In Chad, 34 percent say Christians are hostile toward Muslims, and 38 percent say Muslims are hostile toward Christians. Nigeria had significantly lower percentages (16% say Christians are hostile, and 11 percent say Muslims are hostile), but not as low as Kazakhstan (where 6 percent say Muslims and Christians are hostile). Half of Egyptian Muslims say Christians are hostile toward them—which was the highest percentage among the 26 countries where the question was asked—while 35 percent say Muslims are hostile toward Christians.
Pew also surveyed Christian perceptions of Muslims in sub-Saharan African countries, which CT previously noted in 2010. In Nigeria, 38 percent of Christians saw Muslims as violent, while in Chad, 70 percent said the same.
Secretary of State John Kerry recently recognized October 27 as International Religious Freedom Day. Kerry said in a press statement:
"Freedom of religion is a core American value, but it is not an American invention. It is the birthright of every individual, enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The freedom of religion is a priority for President Obama, as it is for me as Secretary of State, because it is essential to human dignity and individual liberty, and it remains an integral part of our global diplomatic engagement."
The Voice of the Martyrs and Open Doors USA are just two of the organizations promoting IDOP on November 3. Groups in Africa, Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, and Switzerland are also partnering with the United States to raise awareness.
Gospel for Asia recently claimed that more than 14,000 Christians are killed annually for their faith. CT recently examined the disparate estimates of worldwide martyrs, which can range from 1,000 to 100 times that amount, and whether the exact number matters.
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