Christian Martyrdom: Not A Thing Of The Past
Religion & Liberty Online

Christian Martyrdom: Not A Thing Of The Past

To view a statue, holy card or icon of a martyr is one thing. To view the death of a believer, in bloody reality, is another. We can clean up the vision, but the ugly truth of martyrdom is grotesque. According to Open Doors, a ministry which serves persecuted Christians worldwide, martyrdom is a real and current crisis.

Open Doors lists the ten currently most dangerous places for Christians are:

    1. North Korea
    2. Somalia
    3. Syria
    4. Iraq
    5. Afghanistan
    6. Saudi Arabia
    7. Maldives
    8. Pakistan
    9. Iran
    10. Yemen

Open Doors found that martyrdom of Christians around the world doubled from 2012 to 2013. In North Korea, where it is illegal to even own a Bible, “an estimated 50,000 to 70,000 followers of Jesus are suffering in prison camps.”

…Christians are obviously not the only North Koreans in prison camps.  But former captives have reported that they often attract the worst treatment because the regime is particularly enraged by the worship of any other being than the Supreme Leader, who forces North Koreans to treat him as a deity.

It’s chilling to imagine worse treatment than what the average prisoner North Korean has reported, including a mother forced to drown her own baby in a bucket, and tales of subsisting on nothing more than rats and insects. According to first-hand accounts from former prisoners reported by Amnesty International, “every former inmate at one camp had witnessed a public execution, one child was held for eight months in a cube-like cell so small he couldn’t move his body and an estimated 40% of inmates die from malnutrition.”

North Korea has been ranked first on Open Doors’ list for 12 years.

In Somalia, a primarily Muslim country, the government has made it known that it wishes to purge the nation of Christians, and conflicts in Syria were highly reported in 2013 (see PowerBlog articles here, here and here.)

Open Doors’ methodology includes measuring political militarism, religious extremism, organized corruption and the extent to which government (from local to national levels) either tolerates or promotes persecution.

Read “The New Age of Christian Martyrdom” at the Daily Beast.

Elise Hilton

Communications Specialist at Acton Institute. M.A. in World Religions.