19 February 2013
Hudson Institute’s Paul Marshall, a prominent authority on religious persecution, and one of the authors of Persecuted: The Global Assault on Christians, has long pointed out that the notion that Christianity is a “first world” religion is misleading. In the book, he and his co-authors, Nina Shea and Lela Gilbert, write,
Many people are unaware that three-quarters of the world’s 2.2 billion nominal Christians live outside the developed West, as do perhaps four-fifths of the world’s active Christians. Of the wolds ten largest Christian communities, only two, the United State and Germany, are in the developed West. Christianity may well be the developing world’s largest religion. The church is predominantly female and non-white. While China may soon be the country with the largest Christian population, Latin American is the largest Christian region and Africa is on its way to becoming the continent with the largest Christian population. The average Christian on the planet, if there could be such a one, would likely be a Brazilian or Nigerian woman or a Chinese youth.
Why are Christians persecuted?
As you’ll soon see, there are a myriad of reasons. Persecution can be government sponsored as a matter of policy or practice, as in North Korea, Vietnam, China, Burma, Saudi Arabia, and Iran. It can be the result of hostility within the society and carried out by extremists and vigilantes who operate with impunity or are beyond the government’s capacity to control. That is the situation today in Nigeria and Iraq. It can also be carried out by terrorist groups exerting control over territories, such as the Al-Shabab in Somalia and the Taliban in Afghanistan. Or it can come from the hands of combined and even conflicting powers, as in Egypt and Pakistan. (p. 5)