As someone who is continually challenged by the persecution faced by my brothers and sisters in difficult circumstances around the world I was interested to read this post from Voice of the Martyrs (read the full article here). I should thank my oldest son for telling me that I need to use links rather than posting the full page url – it only took me a week to work out how to do that though.
We are often asked here at The Voice of the Martyrs to provide statistics regarding the extent of persecution faced by Christians around the world. How many are killed every year? How many in each country? How many are imprisoned in China/Vietnam/Egypt/etcetera? Of what denomination do they belong? One of the strangest requests we have ever received was when we were actually asked to supply the names of all of the Christians who had died in the previous twelve months! Yes, we in the Western world do love our statistics, confident that everything can and needs to be demonstrated empirically.
The most common question has to do with how many Christians have been killed for their faith in a given year. After reading this article, perhaps you will understand why it is impossible to know with absolute certainty the exact number.
According to the World Evangelical Alliance, over 200 million Christians in at least 60 countries are denied fundamental human rights solely because of their faith. David B. Barrett, Todd M. Johnson, and Peter F. Crossing in their 2009 report in the International Bulletin of Missionary Research (Vol. 33, No. 1: 32) estimate that approximately 176,000 Christians will have been martyred from mid-2008 to mid-2009. This, according to the authors, compares to 160,000 martyrs in mid-2000 and 34,400 at the beginning of the 20th century. If current trends continue, Barrett, Johnson and Crossing estimate that by 2025, an average of 210,000 Christians will be martyred annually.
It is worth noting, however, that many have asked whether the figures cited by the annual Barrett/Johnson/Crossing reports are reliable. Indeed, many persecution experts have concluded that they are untenable. Queries to the researchers have shown that these figures are, in fact, projected averages or statistical guesses rather than based on hard figures or actual documentation. Hence, it should be understood that The Voice of the Martyrs does not stand behind this report’s findings as being indisputable facts.