Most persecuted Christians: Evangelicals, Pentecostals

Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Michael F. Haverluck (

hands on prison barsA newly released study reveals that evangelicals and Pentecostals are persecuted more than any other Christians on the face of the planet – a fact that is mainly credited to their passion to evangelize … even in regions that are hostile to Christianity.

According to research published by Notre Dame University’s Under Caesar's Sword project, the two groups of Christians are targeted most for violence, affliction, oppression and even death because of their zeal to share and live out their faith.

“Protestant evangelical and Pentecostal Christians are more likely to be persecuted than mainline Protestants, Catholics, Orthodox Christians or other Christians associated with ancient churches,” Notre Dame’s report titled “In Response to Persecution” report disclosed. “In response to persecution, evangelical and Pentecostal Christians are more likely to engage in strategies of survival or – on rare occasion – confrontation.”

Other religious groups rooted in the Christian faith and tradition are less likely to draw attention to their beliefs – that are in conflict with other religions where they live – meaning that they are more prone to blend in with the prevailing religious culture and traditions in a way that does not offend others.

“Mainline Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox Christians, on the other hand, are more likely to respond through strategies of association,” the report continued.

Why are they bigger targets?

On the other hand, evangelicals and Pentecostals introduce new aspects about Christianity that many regions in the world – including Russia, Nigeria, Kenya, the Central Asian Republics and the Indian subcontinent – are not used to … or find to be in conflict with their native religions.

“A broad global pattern shows that evangelical and Pentecostal Protestants tend to stand in more antagonist relationship to regimes and societal groups who deny religious freedom than do Christians of other churches,” the researchers explained. “First, in many countries, evangelicals and Pentecostals are comparatively recent arrivals and thus have not established patterns of relating to surrounding populations and governments to the same degree as churches with decades or centuries of history in a given region.”

Furthermore, these Christian groups are often attacked because of their unrestrained passion to share their faith and because of the fact that many governments and cultures associate them with practices in the West that they were told to reject while being raised in their cultures.

“Second, evangelicals and Pentecostals are often perceived to be supported by co-religionists and allies in the West,” the persecution report disclosed. “Third, evangelicals and Pentecostals tend to understand evangelization and conversion as verbal, urgent and sometimes dramatic processes and, consequently, expect and are prepared to endure persecution. For all of these reasons, government and surrounding populations are more likely to deem them a threat.”

Persecution hotbeds

Regions in the world where zealous Christians are at greater risk for persecution include Russia and a number of Central Asian Republics.

“In Central Asian Republics and in Russia – where ever since the conclusion of the Cold War, extensive missionary activity has risen dramatically – persecution is strong,” The Christian Post (CP) noted from the university’s exhaustive report. “The repression of evangelical and Pentecostal Christianity is particularly severe in Iran; Christians in that country routinely ‘disguise their faith in public, aiming to appear little different from the surrounding Muslim culture.’"

Even though the Bible calls Christians to boldly proclaim and share their faith – and even stand up as martyrs if ordered to deny their faith – it is noted that such survival techniques employed by Christians in hostile nations do not run contrary to the teachings of their faith.

“[M]any Christians are willing to profess their faith publicly and contend for their rights, and thus risk being killed, which comports with their theology,” CP’s Brandon Showalter explained. “When Christians in repressive countries do dare to confront regimes opposed to their faith, they do so with the expectation of harsh consequences.”

Christians most persecuted religion globally

When compared with all of the other major religions around the globe, Christianity has been found to have more persecuted adherents than any other faith.

According to a study released earlier this year by The Center for Studies on New Religions, more than 90,000 Christians were murdered last year, with 30 percent of them being slaughtered by Islamic terrorists in the name of jihad.

Over the past four years, an escalating trend of the global persecution of Christians has been recorded, says Open Doors UK & Ireland CEO Lisa Pearce.

"Religious nationalism is sweeping the globe, according to figures [presented with] the Open Doors 2017 World Watch List,” Pearce announced, according to the Catholic News Agency.

Corroborating the findings of Notre Dame’s research project, the Christian leader serving the persecuted Church stressed that most of the persecution of late has been waged against Christians in Asia.

“Persecution levels have been rising rapidly across Asia and the Indian subcontinent, driven by extreme religious nationalism, which is often tacitly condoned – and sometimes actively encouraged – by  local and national governments," Pearce pointed out. 

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