Tags: Middle East | Pope Francis | Religion | pope francis | christians | genocide | world

Pope, Religious Liberty Advocates: Christians Facing Genocide

Pope, Religious Liberty Advocates: Christians Facing Genocide

By    |   Monday, 27 July 2015 12:25 PM

The growing persecution that Christians are facing around the world has led Pope Francis and other groups to start referring to the problem as a genocide.

Pope Francis said on his recent trip to Latin America that he was discouraged "to see how in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world many of our brothers and sisters are persecuted, tortured and killed for their faith in Jesus," The Guardian reported.

"In this third world war, waged piecemeal, which we are now experiencing, a form of genocide is taking place, and it must end," the Pope said.

Groups that track religious persecution say that the attacks on Christians are largely fueled by Islamic extremism and oppressive governments, and that religious liberty for Christians is deteriorating in the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and Latin America, according to The Guardian. 

The archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who is the head of the Anglican church, called those dying around the world "martyrs" during his Easter sermon, the BBC reported.

"They fear for their lives everyday," Welby wrote in an opinion piece for The Times in July of Christians facing persecution in 38 Anglican provinces around the world.

While there are high-profile examples, such as the 270 Nigerian schoolgirls who were kidnapped by the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram, the 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians beheaded by the Islamic State, and the 147 Christians killed at the university in Garissa, Kenya, the problem is much more widespread.

Religious liberty advocate David Alton told The Guardian that "some assessments claim that as many as 200 million Christians in over 60 countries around the world face some degree of restriction, discrimination or outright persecution."

"Whatever the real figures, the scale is enormous," Alton said. "From Syria, Iraq, Iran and Egypt to North Korea, China, Vietnam and Laos, from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to Indonesia, Malaysia, Burma, from Cuba, Colombia and Mexico to Eritrea, Nigeria and Sudan, Christians face serious violations of religious freedom.”

The Pew Research Center reported in March that Christians face persecution in 102 countries around the world.

Lisa Pearce of Open Doors, a religious liberty monitoring group, told The Guardian the organization struggles with how to "make clear we’re talking about the impact of extremism, that it’s not only Christians that are persecuted, and that the overall goal is to create an environment where people are free to follow any religion, or none."

Pearce added that "this is not an issue just for Christians, but a human rights issue that affects us all. It’s not a problem for the church, but much wider than that.”

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The growing persecution that Christians are facing around the world has led Pope Francis and other groups to start referring to the problem as a genocide.
pope francis, christians, genocide, world
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2015-25-27
Monday, 27 July 2015 12:25 PM
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