British Foreign Office Issues Interim Report on the Persecution of Christians

LONDON – Missions Box News reported on December 28, 2018, that British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt had ordered a review into the escalation of persecution of Christians around the world. The task was assigned to the Anglican Archbishop of Truro.

The complete report was originally scheduled to be released in time for Easter Sunday. However, the report which already contains over 340 endnotes, began to take on a scale that is likely to be much more informative and disturbing than most Western believers comprehend. Consequently, the review released an Interim Report today.

Citing a recent Pew Research study, the interim report indicates that

“The global war on Christians remains the greatest story never told of the early 21st century.”

The report emphasizes that the persecution of Christians is not only extreme but is also becoming increasingly more widespread. In fact, the findings are that the overwhelming majority of “persecuted religious believers” are Christians. Christians comprise an estimated 80 percent of all who are persecuted because of their religious beliefs.

The source of persecution is not simply from extremist militant groups but also from the “increasing threat from aggressive nationalism or ultra-nationalism.”

The observations in the Interim Report are summarized by geographic regions followed by descriptions of the obstacles faced by Christians in each.

MENA (the Middle East & North Africa)

The most common forms of persecution over the past several years range from general harassment and intimidation to murder, and imprisonment. Churches have been attacked, destroyed, or confiscated. Both state and social media are reputed to incite hatred against Christians.

The fluid and often unstable political situations in many MENA countries have created a vacuum that has been filled by Muslim extremists, leaving Christians “the most persecuted and vulnerable of religious groups” in the region.

South Asia

“In nearly all (South Asian countries) routine discrimination against Christians has crossed over into outright persecution in recent years . . . The growth of militant nationalism has been the key driver of Christian persecution.”

Christianity is often wrongly perceived as a threat to regional cultures. Anti-conversion and anti-blasphemy laws are publicized as national security and cultural protection when, in effect, they do not limit but, rather, criminalize the efforts of in-country Christians.

Sub-Saharan Africa

The Interim Report concludes that some of the most egregious persecution of Christians has occurred in this highly unstable region. Political uprisings, pervasive poverty, and economic crises mark many, if not most of these nations.

Extremist militant groups threaten individual villages, churches, and Christian schools. Many of these groups, especially Boko Haram whose name, although difficult to translate directly, is generally accepted to mean “Western education is a sin.”

Several ruling bodies are unashamedly ant-Christian, including Sudan, Eritrea, and Mauritania.

East Asia

Countries in East Asia typically dominate the Open Doors’ World Watch List, including the DPRK (North Korea) that has taken home the trophy for most dangerous for Christians for 18 straight years.

The predominant drivers of persecution of Christians in East Asia are authoritarianism, communism, nationalism, and Islamic militancy. Some countries such as China and Indonesia claim to protect religious freedom – as long as all worshippers do so within guidelines proscribed by the state.

Central Asia

Islam is the predominant religion throughout Central Asia. The area is characterized by religious control laws, criminalization of religious activities, restrictions on religious education, and social hostility. Christians are not allowed to read the Bible in public. It is illegal to publish or distribute Christian literature.

One country has duplicitous legislation that, on the one hand, prohibits literature that is offensive to other religions. However, its laws also make it illegal to promote any religion other than Islam.

Latin America

Central America and the northernmost nations of South America all claim to be Christian countries. Criminal organizations, corrupt authoritarian governments, and conflicting religious rights converge at the intersection of “Christian” and “Persecution.” Often, the bottom line is that governments fail to provide adequate security. On some occasions, authoritarian leadership resorts to repressive tactics against Christian churches to keep them under control


The Interim Report includes reports of specific incidents of Christian persecution in many individual countries within each region. It will be interesting to see the completed report and its recommendations which are now expected to be available by the end of June. This much we already know:

“In some regions, the level and nature of persecution are arguably coming close to meeting the international definition of genocide, according to that adopted by the UN.”

To read more news on Christian Persecution on Missions Box, go here.

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