A recent report by Pew Research Center reveals that Christians are the most persecuted people in the world as they face continue to face intensifying pressure over their beliefs. This report analyzed situation of religious freedom in 198 countries and territories, summarizing that religion based antagonism saw its biggest surge in 2016 as Christians ranked as top victims.
Back in 2016, the other religious community facing persecutions were Muslims. This report examined restriction in 2016 as compared to the previous years. The report categorized these restrictions as: government-imposed restrictions and societal hostilities. More than 28% countries of the total countries included in the research were identified as having “high” or “very high” amount of government restrictions. In 2014, 24% countries fell in the “very high” category while in 2015, 25%.
The Pew Research Center terms China as the worst country in terms of obstructions imposed by government. Earlier this year, China’s government banned online purchase of Bibles along with ongoing drive against house churches and crosses atop churches. In 2016, political parties and politicians in Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, and Philippines targeted Christians the most.
The report stated that in 2016, incidents of religion based harassment Christians faced were reported from 144 countries, more places around the world than previous years. These incidents were reported from 128 countries in 2015 and 108 in 2014. The incidents reported included religion based discrimination, verbal assaults, physical attacks, arrests and the destruction of religious sites and properties.
At the same time, in 2016 Muslims suffered harassment in 142 countries, in 2015 in 125 and in 2014 in 100 countries. Pew Research Center released its research week after the US State Department released its annual report on state of religious freedom around the world. Sam Brownback, Ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, stated last month: “The state of religious freedom is dire. We have work to do. We must move religious freedom forward – we must defend it in every corner of the globe.”