Christianity growing despite world’s worst persecutions, new report says

Despite the government’s attempts to control all religious expression and worship, the report said that Christianity in China, lived out primarily in underground church communities, is “rapidly growing.”

Under the leadership of Chinese President Xi Jinping, the penalties for living out one’s Christian faith have continued to increase. Amid the persecution, the report said that there are now 70 million to 100 million “underground Christians” who have refused to follow the CCP’s mandate to “worship the state,” choosing instead to risk their lives by following Christ.

Nigeria

According to ICC, Nigeria is “arguably the most dangerous place to be a Christian in the world today.”

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Though Nigeria is nearly 50% Christian, the country’s approximately 100 million Christians live under constant threat of torture, kidnapping, and execution.

Acts of extreme violent persecution are a regular occurrence for Nigerian Christians, according to the report. The hardships Christians face in the country are due to a combination of extremist groups and government targeting.

Radical Islamist groups such as Boko Haram, the ISIS offshoot Islamic State West Africa Province, and the Fulani herdsmen continue to prey on the country’s large Christian population, despite government promises and claims that religious targeting has been solved in the country.

The persecution has continued for decades now with no signs of improvement in 2023. ICC President Jeff King said in the report that the government’s inaction to Christian persecution amounts to “aiding and abetting” the “genocide” of Christians in the country.

Though King said that the violence “will only worsen unless the international community steps in,” the report also said that Christianity in Nigeria continues to grow in regional pockets.

CNA reported earlier this year that despite the escalating persecution, Nigeria has by far the highest Mass attendance in the world.

Ninety-four percent of Catholics in Nigeria say they attend Mass at least weekly, according to a study by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate. 

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Bishop Wilfred Anagbe of the Diocese of Makurdi in Nigeria’s Benue state told CNA in June that “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of Christianity.” 

“Persecution has been part and parcel of the life of a Catholic,” Anagbe said. “But then it doesn’t stop the faith of the people.”

“We constantly keep on praying,” Anagbe said. “God will surely hear our prayers. So, that’s why the Mass is so important and why we pray. We have to trust God in the midst of this crisis.”

‘The resilience of the body of Christ’

ICC also highlighted the plight of Christians enduring persecutions in North Korea, India, Pakistan, Eritrea, Algeria, Indonesia, and Azerbaijan as well as some of the leading persecutory groups and individuals such as the Taliban, Jinping, and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. 

While the purpose of ICC’s annual report is to bring attention to the suffering of Christians across the world, King said that it also “unveils the resilience of the body of Christ.”

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