As the oppression of Christians rages rampant around the world, Christian History magazine examines the persecution of Christians over the past 300 years, revealing that the current, horrific crimes committed against a staggering number of believers are anything but unprecedented in the known world.
In the article titled "Eyewitnesses to the Modern Age of Persecution," Christian History, along with Voice of the Martyrs, identifies three particular groups most responsible for persecution of Christians in modern times: atheist communist and socialist governments, Islamists and government sponsored sharia law, and Christian denominations that have attacked fellow believers in disputes over theology and doctrine.
According to the study, Christians have primarily been persecuted and killed by Humanist and Communist forces as well as Islamic extremists. The article also notes that Christians themselves killed countless of their own brethren during the 12th- 14th Cent. Inquisition, during and after the 16th-17th Cent. Reformation in Europe and continuing today in Ireland, Eastern Europe & Africa.
"Many Christians in the West either deny or are ignorant of it, but persecution is part of present reality," states Rou Stults, who works for Voice of the Martyrs and is interviewed in the issue.
Sadly, the persecution truly is a horrifying reality, as a study attributed to the late researcher, David B. Barrett, editor of World Christian Encyclopedia, World Christian Trends reveals. According to his research, an estimated 70,000,000 Christians worldwide have been martyred since time of Jesus. A diverse estimate of killings today show that 100,000 Christian are killed for their faith annually, according to Todd Johnson of Center For the Study of Global Christianity; and Christof Saure of International Institute for Religious Freedom found that 8-9,000 Christians are killed for their faith annually.
Countries in which Christians are most at risk are Iraq ("leave, pay, convert, or die), India (expect more persecution), China (no more Bibles, no more churches) and North Korea (hide your faith or die).
Also documented in the study are several heroes of the faith who suffered either extreme persecution or death for their faith, including William Tyndale, Corrie ten Boom, Jim Elliot and Richard Wurmbrand--the founders of Voice of the Martyrs.
Christian History also recognizes countless modern heroes of the faith, including Bob Fu, who is currently being persecuted in China, Asia Bibi, who is currently being persecuted by Islamist extremists in Pakistan, and Professor Cho who was persecuted in North Korea from the 1940's until his recent escape.
"Is there a global war on Christians?" asks Michael Austin, a communications consultant and Christian commentator. "That question is asked in this issue and according to the number of deaths and torture in recent years, my conclusion is, yes - and on a global scale the casualties are staggering! The biblical warnings of persecution come alive in this issue of Christian History. Sadly, the names of Christ's heroes go unspoken and their cause is largely unreported, in the popular press."