Christians in Nigeria, India, and China are expected to face increased persecution in the upcoming year, according to UK-based Release International.
The organization, which supports persecuted Christians and has welcomed a recent move by UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt to launch an investigation into the persecution of Christians around the world, said its partner agencies have warned persecution of Christians around the world has been growing and that the trend is anticipated to continue in 2019.
Observing there are an estimated 215 million Christians facing fierceness and discrimination across the globe with an estimated 250 killed every month because of their faith, Release has named Nigeria, India and China as countries of “particular concern”.
In Nigeria, Fulani militants are anticipated to continue attacks against Christians in the country’s north and central regions with Release mentioning statistics that as many as 6,000 were killed in the first six months of 2018 and a further 50,000 driven from their homes. The organization figures an anonymous partner saying there was a “deliberate plan to destroy and take over the predominantly Christian communities in the region.”
In the meantime in China, Release says there has been a “sharp increase” in government opposition to religions, including Christianity, seen in new rules regulating religion and a policy of removing Christian symbols and closing churches. Release records that larger house churches have been a specific target and quotes a representative of a partner organization saying authorities have been encouraged in efforts to close higher profile churches thanks to the lack of opposition seen among Western nations.
In India, the Release says attacks against Christians by Hindu nationalists are increasing with violent mobs breaking up prayer meetings, new laws passed in several states prohibiting alleged ‘forced’ conversions and attacks on pastors.
Other countries of concern with regard to the persecution of Christians in the coming year include North Korea, Eritrea and Pakistan, according to Release.
Paul Robinson, The CEO of Release International, said there is a “worrying upward trend in persecution against Christians” and has backed calls for the UK to do more to support the “suffering church worldwide.”
The UK Government‘s evaluation into the persecution of Christians around the world will be led by Church of England prelate Philip Mounstephen, the Bishop of Truro, and is charged with making recommendations on practical steps the government can take to support those under threat. It is expected to report by Easter.
The move was announced amid growing criticism that the UK Government had not offered sanctuary to Asia Bibi, a Pakistani mother of five who was acquitted of blasphemy charges after spending eight years on death row.
Release’s Paul Robinson said the case highlights the intolerance Christians can face.
“Such intolerance of so many Christians in numerous countries sets the tone for 2019. We must continue to watch and pray and walk in faith as The Bible says for the freedom of faith.”