The Crucifixion of St. Peter by Caravaggio

According to the New Testament, Jesus' crucifixion was authorized by Roman authorities but demanded by the leading Jews and probably carried out by Sanhedrin soldiers, rather than Romans.[citation needed] The New Testament also records that Paul was imprisoned on several occasions by the Roman authorities. Once he was stoned and left for dead. Eventually he was taken as a prisoner to Rome. The New Testament account does not say what then became of Paul, but Christian tradition reports that he was executed in Rome by being beheaded.

The Foxes Book of Martyrs reports that, of the eleven remaining Apostles (since Judas Iscariot had already killed himself), only one- John, the son of Zebedee and Salome, the younger brother of James and the writer of the Book of Revelation- died of natural causes in exile. The other ten were reportedly martyred by various means including beheading, by sword and spear and, in the case of Saint Peter, crucifixion.

The first documented case of imperially-supervised persecution of the Christians in the Roman Empire begins with Nero (37-68). In 64 A.D., a great fire broke out in Rome, destroying portions of the city and economically devastating the Roman population. Nero himself was suspected as the arsonist by historian Suetonius, claiming he played the lyre and sang the 'Sack of Ilium' during the fires. In his Annals, Tacitus (who claimed Nero was in Antium at the time of the fire's outbreak), stated that "to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace" (Tacit. Annals XV, see Tacitus on Jesus). By implicating the Christians for this massive act of arson, Nero successfully capitalized on the already-existing public suspicion of this religious sect and, it could be argued, exacerbated the hostilities held toward them throughout the Roman Empire.[citation needed] Forms of execution used by the Romans included systematic murder, crucifixion, and the feeding of Christians to lions and other wild beasts.[citation needed] Tacitus' Annals XV.44 record: "...a vast multitude, were convicted, not so much of the crime of incendiarism as of hatred of the human race. And in their deaths they were made the subjects of sport; for they were wrapped in the hides of wild beasts and torn to pieces by dogs, or nailed to crosses, or set on fire, and when day declined, were burned to serve for nocturnal lights."

[edit] Persecution from the second century to Constantine

The Execution of Saint Eulalia by John William Waterhouse

By the mid 2nd century, mobs could be found willing to throw stones at Christians, and they might be mobilized by rival sects. The Persecution in Lyon was preceded by mob violence, including assaults, robberies and stonings (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 5.1.7).

Further state persecutions were desultory until the third century, though Tertullian's Apologeticus of 197 was ostensibly written in defense of persecuted Christians and addressed to Roman governors[6] The "edict of Septimius Severus" familiar in Christian history is doubted by some secular historians to have existed outside Christian martyrology.

The first documentable Empire-wide persecution took place under Maximin, though only the clergy were sought out. It was not until Decius during the mid-century that a persecution of Christian laity across the Empire took place. Christian sources aver that a decree was issued requiring public sacrifice, a formality equivalent to a testimonial of allegiance to the Emperor and the established order. Decius authorized roving commissions visiting the cities and villages to supervise the execution of the sacrifices and to deliver written certificates to all citizens who performed them. Christians were often given opportunities to avoid further punishment by publicly offering sacrifices or burning incense to Roman gods, and were accused by the Romans of impiety when they refused. Refusal was punished by arrest, imprisonment, torture, and executions. Christians fled to safe havens in the countryside and some purchased their certificates, called libelli. Several councils held at Carthage debated the extent to which the community should accept these lapsed Christians.

[edit] Diocletian Persecution

The persecutions culminated with Diocletian and Galerius at the end of the third and beginning of the fourth century. Their persecution, the Diocletian Persecution is considered the largest. Beginning with a series of four edicts banning Christian practices and ordering the imprisonment of Christian clergy, the persecution intensified until all Christians in the empire were commandeded to sacrifice to the gods or face immediate execution. However, as Diocletian zealously persecuted Christians in the Eastern part of the empire, his co-emperors in the West did not follow the edicts and so Christians in Gaul, Spain, and Brittania were virtually unmolested.

This persecution was to be the last, as Constantine I soon came into power and in 313 legalized Christianity. It was not until Theodosius I in the latter fourth century that Christianity would become the official religion of the Empire.

Edward Gibbon, in The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, estimates that "the whole might consequently amount to about fifteen hundred ... an annual consumption of 150 martyrs." The Western provinces were little affected, and even in the East where Christianity was recognized as a growing threat, the persecutions were light and sporadic.

Some early Christians sought out and welcomed martyrdom. Roman authorities tried hard to avoid Christians because they "goaded, chided, belittled and insulted the crowds until they demanded their death."193 One man shouted to the Roman officials: "I want to die! I am a Christian," leading the officials to respond: "If they wanted to kill themselves, there was plenty of cliffs they could jump off."194 Such seeking after death is found in Tertullian's Scorpiace but was certainly not the only view of martyrdom in the Christian church. Both Polycarp and Cyprian, bishops in Smyrna and Carthage respectively, attempted to avoid martyrdom.

The conditions under which martyrdom was an acceptable fate or under which it was suicidally embraced occupied writers of the early Christian Church. Broadly speaking, martyrs were considered uniquely exemplary of the Christian faith, and few early saints were not also martyrs.

The New Catholic Encyclopedia states that "Ancient, medieval and early modern hagiographers were inclined to exaggerate the number of martyrs. Since the title of martyr is the highest title to which a Christian can aspire, this tendency is natural". Estimates of Christians killed for religious reasons before the year 313 vary greatly, depending on the scholar quoted, from a high of almost 100,000 to a low of 10,000.[citation needed]

[edit] Early persecutions outside the Roman Empire

In 337 a spate in the ongoing hostilities between Sassanid Persia and the Roman Empire led to anti-Christian persecutions by the Persians of Christians, see also Sassanid Church, who were perceived as potentially treacherous friends to a Christianized Rome, see also Christendom, under Constantine.[citation needed] In 341, Shapur II ordered the massacre of all Christians in Persia. Over the next few decades, thousands of Christians died.[citation needed] In the 3rd and 4th centuries, Christian missionaries (most successfully Ulfilas) converted the Goths to Arian Christianity. Some Goths saw this as an attack on their religion and culture.[citation needed] In response, the Terving King Athanaric began persecuting Christians, many of whom were killed.[7]

A Converted British Family sheltering a Christian Priest from the Persecution of the Druids, a scene of persecution by druids in ancient Britain painted by William Holman Hunt.

A Converted British Family sheltering a Christian Priest from the Persecution of the Druids, a scene of persecution by druids in ancient Britain painted by William Holman Hunt.

In 429 the Vandals (who were Arians) conquered Roman Africa. Catholics were discriminated against; Church property was confiscated. Thousands of Catholics were banished from Vandal held territory.[citation needed]

[edit] Persecution of Christians by Christians

As with many religions, Christianity is not a homogenous group; there exist many sects of Christianity, which often find themselves at odds with each other, often because one group does not consider another Christian at all, as is the case with Mormons and mainstream Christians (see below).

The Catholic Encyclopedia mentions a Natalius,[8] before Hippolytus, as first Antipope, who, according to Eusebius's Ecclesiastical History 5.28.8-12, quoting the Little Labyrinth of Hippolytus, after being "scourged all night by the holy angels", covered in ash, dressed in sackcloth, and "after some difficulty", tearfully submitted to Pope Zephyrinus.

Upon the establishment of official ties between the state and Christianity, the state and the Church turned their considerable negative attention to those deemed heretics, although who was and was not a heretic could alter with the winds of political change. The first nonconforming Christian executed was Priscillian. Many 4th century examples of such a situation involved Arianism, which held, against the orthodox tradition, that Jesus was not "one in unity with the Father", but instead was a created being, not on the same level with God, above humans but below God the Father.

When high-ranking officials agreed with orthodoxy, the state stopped at no ends to bring down the Arians. The converse was true when high-ranking officials, instead, adhered to Arianism, at which point the power of the state was used to promulgate that particular interpretation. The Germanic Goths and Vandals adhered to Arian Christianity, establishing Arian states in Italy and Spain. Orthodox Christians defended themselves vigorously against these foreign Arians. St. Augustine, for example, died while in a town besieged by the Arian Vandals.

An increasing number of scholars have claimed that Early Christianity had no single agreed-upon tradition, and various sects claimed no limit of things about Jesus, God, and the universe, but the extent of this "proto-Christian" diversity can be a matter of debate. Some scholarly opinion adheres to the picture of a continual line of theological orthodoxy, but the early sources, such as Celsus, Origen, Arius, Irenaeus, and Marcion, suggest a world of Christianity far more colorful than the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers painted. This must be contrasted against Irenaeus' claim in Against Heresies that the church had an overall orthodoxy.

In the medieval period the Roman Catholic church moved to suppress the Cathar heresy, the Pope having sanctioned a crusade against the Albigensians; during the course of which the massacre of Beziers took place, with between seven and twenty thousand deaths. (This was the occasion when the papal legate, Arnaud Amalric, asked about how Catholics could be distinguished from Cathars once the city fell, famously replied, "Kill them all, God will know His own.")

The Crusades in the Middle East also spilled over into conquest of Eastern Orthodox Christians by Roman Catholics and attempted suppression of the Orthodox Church. The Waldenses were as well persecuted by the Catholic Church, but survive up to this day. The Reformation led to a long period of warfare and communal violence between Catholic and Protestant factions, leading to massacres and forced suppression of the alternative views by the dominant faction in many countries. In the 1572 St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre the French king ordered the murder of Protestants in France.

In the modern period, such events include violence between Mormons and Protestants in the United States during the 19th century. That century also saw the martyrdom of St. Peter the Aleut at the hands of Roman Catholic clergy in San Francisco, California.

[edit] Anti-Catholic

Main article: Anti-Catholicism

Anti-Catholicism officially began in 1534 during the English Reformation; the Act of Supremacy made the King of England the 'only supreme head on earth of the Church in England.' Any act of allegiance to the latter was considered treason. It was under this act that Thomas More was executed. Queen Elizabeth I's scorn for Jesuit missionaries led to many executions at Tyburn. Catholic / Protestant strife has been blamed for much of "The Troubles," the ongoing struggle in Northern Ireland.

This attitude was carried "across the pond" to the American colonies, which would leave England, forming the United States. Although there has been a strong anti-Catholic sentiment in North America since before the dawn of the US, the feeling grew stronger during waves of Catholic immigration from old Europe. Nationalist, "native" feeling was represented by the Know-Nothing Party. Father James Coyle, a Roman Catholic priest, was murdered in 1921 by the Ku Klux Klan.

[edit] Anti-Protestant

Main article: Anti-Protestantism

The Bartholomew's Day massacre

The Bartholomew's Day massacre

Anti-Protestantism originated in a reaction by the Catholic Church against the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century. Protestants were denounced as heretics and subject to persecution in those territories, such as Spain, Italy and the Netherlands, in which the Catholics were the dominant power. This movement was orchestrated by Popes and Princes as the Counter Reformation. This resulted in religious wars and eruptions of sectarian hatred such as the St Bartholomew's Day Massacre.

[edit] Persecution of the Anabaptists

Main article: Anabaptist

When the disputes between Lutherans and Roman Catholics gained a political dimension, both groups saw other groups of religious dissidents that were arising as a danger to their own security. The early "Täufer" (lit. "Baptists") were mistrusted and rejected by both religio-political parties. Religious persecution is often perpetrated as a means of political control, and this becomes evident with the Treaty of Augsburg in 1555. This treaty provided the legal groundwork for persecution of the Anabaptists.

[edit] Anti-Mormon

Main article: Anti-Mormonism

Followers of the Latter Day Saint movement (commonly known as Mormons) have been persecuted since the faith's creation in the 1830s. This drove the early Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from New York to Missouri, where escalating attacks by neighboring villages caused them to flee to Nauvoo, Illinois. However hostilities between Mormons, non-Mormons and former Mormons would soon escalate. After a mob was let into the jail in Carthage, Illinois, where Joseph Smith was being held on charges of committing treason against the state of Illinois, a gun fight ensued and as a result Smith was killed.[9][10] This caused an exodus by the Latter-day Saints to Utah, which was not a part of the United States at the time.

[edit] Muslim persecution of Christians

Main article: Islam and Anti-Christian sentiment

[edit] Ottoman Empire

The new Ottoman government that arose from the ashes of Byzantine civilization was neither primitive nor barbaric. Islam not only recognized Jesus as a great prophet, but tolerated Christians as another People of the Book. As such, the Church was not extinguished nor was its canonical and hierarchical organization significantly disrupted. Its administration continued to function. One of the first things that Mehmet the Conqueror did was to allow the Church to elect a new patriarch, Gennadius Scholarius. The Hagia Sophia and the Parthenon, which had been Christian churches for nearly a millennium were converted into mosques, although countless other churches, both in Constantinople and elsewhere, remained in Christian hands. Moreover, it is striking that the patriarch's and the hierarchy's position was considerably strengthened and their power increased. They were endowed with civil as well as ecclesiastical power over all Christians in Ottoman territories. Because Islamic law makes no distinction between nationality and religion, all Christians, regardless of their language or nationality, were considered a single millet, or nation. The patriarch, as the highest ranking hierarch, was thus invested with civil and religious authority and made ethnarch, head of the entire Christian Orthodox population. Practically, this meant that all Orthodox Churches within Ottoman territory were under the control of Constantinople. Thus, the authority and jurisdictional frontiers of the patriarch were enormously enlarged.

These rights and privileges (see Dhimmitude), including freedom of worship and religious organization, were often established in principle but seldom corresponded to reality. The legal privileges of the patriarch and the Church depended, in fact, on the whim and mercy of the Sultan and the Sublime Porte, while all Christians were viewed as little more than second-class citizens. Moreover, Turkish corruption and brutality were not a myth. That it was the "infidel" Christian who experienced this more than anyone else is not in doubt. Nor were pogroms of Christians in these centuries unknown (see Greco-Turkish relations).[11] [12]Devastating, too, for the Church was the fact that it could not bear witness to Christ. Missionary work among Moslems was dangerous and indeed impossible, whereas conversion to Islam was entirely legal and permissible. Converts to Islam who returned to Orthodoxy were put to death as apostates. No new churches could be built and even the ringing of church bells was prohibited. Education of the clergy and the Christian population either ceased altogether or was reduced to the most rudimentary elements.

The Ottoman Empire was marked by periods of limited tolerance and periods of often bloody repression of non-Muslims. The Janissary army corps consisted of young men who were brought to Istanbul as child-slaves (and were often from Christian households) who were converted, trained and later employed by the Sultan (the devshirme system).

[edit] Turkey

Main articles: Armenian Genocide, Pontic Greek Genocide, and Assyrian Genocide

Things worsened after the Empire collapsed at the end of World War I. Nationalist movements like the Young Turks began persecuting and murdering Greek, Armenian, Assyrian and other Christians in what is known as the Armenian, the Pontic Greek and the Assyrian Genocides. This mass murder of Christians is fairly unknown today outside Greece and Armenia, despite taking place not very long ago (1915-1922). It is estimated that 1,500,000 Armenians, 750,000 Assyrians and another 350,000 Pontic Greeks were murdered and most had to abandon regions inhabited by them for thousands of years.

Since the establishment of the secular nationalist Republic of Turkey, the number of Orthodox in the Anatolian peninsula has sharply declined amidst complaints of Turkish governmental repression.[citations needed] These complaints include various perceived campaigns by the Turkish government against various Eastern and Oriental Orthodox groups such as the Istanbul Pogrom in 1955 and the closure of the Halki seminary in 1971 (along with private universities).

The Istanbul pogrom was a state-sponsored and state-orchestrated pogrom that compelled Greek Christians to leave Constantinople (Turkish Istanbul), the first Christian city in violation to the Treaty of Lausanne (see Istanbul Pogrom). The issue of Christian genocides by the Turks may become a problem, since Turkey wishes to join the European Union.[13] The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople is still in a difficult position. Turkey requires by law that the Ecumenical Patriarch must be an ethnic Greek, holding Turkish citizenship by birth, although most of the Greek minority has been expelled. The state's expropriation of church property and the closing of the Orthodox Theological School of Halki are also difficulties faced by the Church of Constantinople. Despite appeals from the United States, the European Union and various governmental and non-governmental organizations, the School remains closed since 1971. Persecution of Christians is continuing in modern Turkey. On February 5, 2006, the Catholic priest Andrea Santoro was murdered in Trabzon by a student influenced by the massive anti-Christian propaganda in the Turkish popular press[14], following the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy. On April 18, 2007, 3 Christians were brutally murdered in Malatya [15][16], the hometown of Mehmet Ali Ağca, the assassin who shot and wounded Pope John Paul II on May 13, 1981.

[edit] Persecution of Christians in Iraq

Although Christians represent less than 5% of the total Iraqi population, they make up 40% of the refugees now living in nearby countries, according to UNHCR.[17][18] Northern Iraq remained predominantly Christian until the destructions of Tamerlane at the end of the 14th century. The Church of the East has its origin in what is now South East Turkey. By the end of the 13th century there were twelve Nestorian dioceses in a strip from Peking to Samarkand. When the a 14th-century Muslim warlord of Turco-Mongol descent Tamerlane (Timul Lenk) conquered Persia, Mesopotamia and Syria, the civilian population was decimated. Timur Lenk had 70,000 Assyrian Christians beheaded in Tikrit, and 90,000 more in Baghdad.[19][20]

Ethnic Assyrians (most of whom are adherents of the Chaldean Catholic Church and the Assyrian Church of the East) account for most of Iraq's sizable Christian population, along with Armenians.

In the 16th century, Christians were half the population of Iraq.[21] In 1987, the last Iraqi census counted 1.4 million Christians.[22] They were tolerated under the secular regime of Saddam Hussein, who even made one of them, Tariq Aziz, his deputy. But as the war has radicalised Islamic sensibilities, Christians have seen their total numbers slump to about 500,000 today, of whom 250,000 live in Baghdad.[23] An exodus to the neighboring countries of Syria, Jordan and Turkey has left behind closed parishes, seminaries and convents. As a small minority without a militia of their own, Iraqi Christians have been persecuted by both Shi’a and Sunni Muslim militias, and also by criminal gangs.[24][25]

As of June 21, 2007, the UNHCR estimated that 2.2 million Iraqis had been displaced to neighboring countries, and 2 million were displaced internally, with nearly 100,000 Iraqis fleeing to Syria and Jordan each month.[26][27] A May 25, 2007 article notes that in the past seven months only 69 people from Iraq have been granted refugee status in the United States.[28]

One of the most recent tragic events of the present Iraqi situation for the Christian community is the assassination by Islamic terrorists of Chaldean Catholic priest Fr. Ragheed Aziz Ganni and subdeacons Basman Yousef Daud, Wahid Hanna Isho, and Gassan Isam Bidawed in the ancient city of Mosul.[29] Fr. Ragheed Aziz Ganni was driving with his three deacons when they were stopped by Muslim terrorists who demanded their conversion to Islam, when they refused the terrorists shot them.[29]

[edit] Persecution of Christians in Kosovo

After the defeat of a Christian Balkan coalition lead by a prince of Serbia, Lazar, the Ottomans occupied Kosovo. The Christian population of Kosovo was composed overwhelmingly of Serbs (see Demographic history of Kosovo). Initially, former Christian nobles were allowed to maintain their properties and privileges, especially the local nobles that fought on the side of the Ottomans during the Battle of Kosovo in 1389. Christians within the Ottoman Empire were not violently persecuted but gradually Islamized through incentives such as property, reduced taxes and the right to bear arms. The Orthodox and Catholic churches of Kosovo during the Ottoman period were awarded special protections and rights including placing Christians under the authority of the Patriarch of Constantinople[2]. The living conditions of the average serf in Kosovo improved during the Ottoman occupation due to the rationalization of the Ottoman Timar system which was less demanding then previous feudal relations. Persecution of Christians has been limited to the Serbian Orthodox tradition and is ethnic not religious. Catholic's, most of whom were Albanian, were unmolested in Kosovo. The ongoing ethnic conflict has resulted in the destruction of 56 Serb Orthodox Christian churches, monasteries, graveyards and other religious monuments, some of them being of great historical and architectural importance. The latest wave of anti-Serb violence was in March 2004 (see Unrest in Kosovo).[citation needed]

[edit] Christian casualties of the War in Lebanon

The war in Lebanon saw a number of massacres of both Christians and Muslims. Among the earliest was the Damour Massacre in 1975 when Palestinian militias attacked Christian civilians. The persecution in Lebanon combined sectarian, political, ideological, and retaliation reasons. The Syrian regime was also involved in persecuting Christians as well as Muslims in Lebanon.[30][31]

[edit] Persecution of Christians in Sudan

There is an abundance of evidence since the early 1990s of oppression and persecution of Christians, including by Sudan's own Sudan Human Rights Organization, which in mid-1992 reported on forcible closure of churches, expulsion of priests, forced displacement of populations, forced Islamisation and Arabisation, and other repressive measures of the Government. In 1994 it also reported on widespread torture, ethnic cleansing and crucifixion of pastors. Pax Christi has also reported on detailed cases in 1994, as has Africa Watch. Roman Catholic bishop Macram Max Gassis, Bishop of El Obeid, also reported to the Fiftieth Session of the UN Commission on Human Rights, in Geneva, in February 1994 on accounts of widespread destruction of hundreds of churches, forced conversions of Christians to Islam, concentration camps, genocide of the Nuba people, systematic rape of women, enslavement of children, torture of priests and clerics, burning alive of pastors and catechists, crucifixion and mutilation of priests. The foregoing therefore serve to indict the Sudanese Government itself for flagrant violations of human rights and religious freedom.

In addition, it is estimated that over 1.5 million Christians have been killed by the Janjaweed, the Arab Muslim militia, and even suspected Islamists in northern Sudan since 1984.[3]

It should also be noted that Sudan's several civil wars (which often take the form of genocidal campaigns) are often not only or purely religious in nature, but also ethnic, as many black Muslims, as well as Muslim Arab tribesmen, have also been killed in the conflicts.

It is estimated that as many as 200,000 people had been taken into slavery during the Second Sudanese Civil War. The slaves are mostly Dinka people.[32][33]

[edit] Persecution of Christians in Pakistan

[edit] Blasphemy laws

In Pakistan 1.5% of the population are Christian. Pakistani law mandates that "blasphemies" of the Qur'an are to be met with punishment. On July 28, 1994 Amnesty International urged Pakistan's Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto, to change the law because it was being used to terrorize religious minorities. She tried but was unsuccessful. However, she modified the laws to make them more moderate. Her changes were reversed by the Nawaz Sharif administration which was backed by Muslim fundamentalists.[citation needed]

Ayub Masih, a Christian, was convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to death in 1998. He was accused by a neighbor of stating that he supported British writer, Salman Rushdie, author of The Satanic Verses. Lower appeals courts upheld the conviction. However, before the Pakistan Supreme Court, his lawyer was able to prove that the accuser had used the conviction to force Masih's family off their land and then acquired control of the property. Masih has been released.[34]

On September 22, 2006 a Pakistani Christian named Shahid Masih was arrested and jailed for allegedly violating Islamic "blasphemy laws" in Pakistan. He is presently held in confinement and has expressed fear of reprisals by Islamic Fundamentalists.[35]

[edit] Attacks on Pakistani Christians by Islamists

The Christian community in Pakistan is frequently the target of attacks by Islamic extremists.[36]

On October 28, 2001 in Lahore, Pakistan, Islamic militants killed 15 Christians at a church.

On September 25, 2002 two terrorists entered the "Peace and Justice Institute", Karachi, where they separated Muslims from the Christians, and then executed eight Christians by shooting them in the head [4]. All of the victims were Pakistani Christians. Karachi police chief Tariq Jamil said the victims had their hands tied and their mouths had been covered with tape.

In November 2005 3,000 militant Islamists attacked Christians in Sangla Hill in Pakistan and destroyed Roman Catholic, Salvation Army and United Presbyterian churches. The attack was over allegations of violation of blasphemy laws by a Pakistani Christian named Yousaf Masih. The attacks were widely condemned by some political parties in Pakistan.[37] However, Pakistani Christians have expressed disappointment that they have not received justice. Samson Dilawar, a parish priest in Sangla Hill, has said that the police have not committed to trial any of the people who were arrested for committing the assaults, and that the Pakistani government did not inform the Christian community that a judicial inquiry was underway by a local judge. He continued to say that Muslim clerics "make hateful speeches about Christians" and "continue insulting Christians and our faith".[38]

In February 2006 churches and Christian schools were targeted in protests over the publications of the Jyllands-Posten cartoons in Denmark, leaving two elderly women injured and many homes and properties destroyed. Some of the mobs were stopped by police.[39]

On June 5, 2006 a Pakistani Christian stonemason named Nasir Ashraf was working near Lahore when he drank water from a public facility using a glass chained to the facility. He was assaulted by Muslims for "Polluting the glass". A mob developed, who beat Ashraf, calling him a "Christian dog". Bystanders encouraged the beating and joined in. Ashraf was eventually hospitalized.[40][41]

In August of 2006, a church and Christian homes were attacked in a village outside of Lahore, Pakistan in a land dispute. Three Christians were seriously injured and one missing after some 35 Muslims burned buildings, desecrated Bibles and attacked Christians.[42]

One year later, in August 2007, a Christian missionary couple, Rev. Arif and Kathleen Khan, were gunned down by militant Islamists in Islamabad. The "official" position in Pakistan is that the killer was a fellow Christian, and that the killings were "justified" as an honor killing under the false pretext that the missionaries were engaged in sexual harassment, an assertion widely doubted in the international media, as well as by Pakistani Christians. [5][6] [7]

Based, in part, on such incidents, Pakistan was recommended by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) in May 2006 to be designated as a "Country of Particular Concern" (CPC) by the Department of State.[42]

[edit] Attacks on Christians by Islamists in Indonesia

Religious conflicts have typically occurred in western New Guinea, Maluku (particularly Ambon), and Sulawesi. The presence of Muslims in these regions is largely due to Suharto's transmigrasi plan of population re-distribution. Conflicts have often occurred because of the aims of radical Islamist organizations such as Jemaah Islamiah or Laskar Jihad to impose Sharia. The following list is far from comprehensive:

·      1998 - 500 Christian churches burned down in Java.

·      November, 1998 - 22 churches in Jakarta are burned down. 13 Christians killed.

·      Christmas Day 1998 - 180 homes and stores owned by Christians are destroyed in Poso, Central Sulawesi.

·      Easter 2000 - 800 homes and stores owned by Christians are destroyed in Poso, Central Sulawesi.

·      May 23, 2000 - Christians fight back against a Muslim mob. 700 people die.

·      June, 2001 - the Laskar Jihad declares Jihad against Christians. Muslim citizens are recruited by the thousands to exterminate Christians.

·      May 28, 2005 - A bomb is exploded in a crowded market in Tentena, killing 28. This marks the highest death toll due to bombing after the devastating attacks in Bali.[43]

·      October 29, 2005 three school girls were found beheaded near Poso. The girls, students at Central Sulawesi Christian Church, were killed by six unidentified assailants while on their way to class.

[edit] Discrimination and persecution in other Muslim nations

In Saudi Arabia Christians are arrested and lashed in public for practicing their faith openly.[44] Bibles and other non-Muslim religious books are captured, piled up and burned by the religious police of Saudi. No non-Muslims are allowed to become Saudi citizens. Prayer services by Christians are frequently broken up by the police and the Christians are arrested and tortured without even allowing them to be released on bail.

In Egypt the government does not officially recognize conversions from Islam to Christianity; because certain interfaith marriages are not allowed either, this prevents marriages between converts to Christianity and those born in Christian communities, and also results in the children of Christian converts being classified as Muslims and given a Muslim education. The government also requires permits for repairing churches or building new ones, which are often withheld. Foreign missionaries are allowed in the country only if they restrict their activities to social improvements and refrain from proselytizing. The Coptic Pope Shenouda III was internally exiled in 1981 by President Anwar Sadat, who then chose five Coptic bishops and asked them to choose a new pope. They refused, and in 1985 President Hosni Mubarak restored Pope Shenouda III, who had been accused of fomenting interconfessional strife. Particularly in Upper Egypt, the rise in extremist Islamist groups such as the Gama'at Islamiya during the 1980s was accompanied by attacks on Copts and on Coptic churches; these have since declined with the decline of those organizations, but still continue. The police have been accused of siding with the attackers in some of these cases.[45] Nevertheless, high-ranking government officials in Egypt have included Copts like Boutros Ghali and his grandson, Boutros Boutros-Ghali.

There have been anti-Christian incidents carried out in areas governed by the Palestinian Authority. Some claim that this represents a pattern of deliberate mistreatment by the PA;[46] others hold that these are isolated incidents that reflect the beliefs of the individuals involved, but not the society in general.[47][48] Two American courts, one in Illinois and the other in North Carolina, accepted the threat of "religious persecution" as grounds for granting asylum to Evangelical converts fleeing PA territory. There is an ongoing trend for emigration among Palestinian Christians doubling that of Muslims. The ratio of Christians among Palestinians went from 18%-20% in 1947 to 13% in 1966 to 2.1% in 1993.[49] Among the causes there are the insecurity of living under Israeli rule after the 1967 Six Day War, the comparatively warmer welcome that Christians have in the Americas and the rise of Islamism in Palestine politics

Though Iran recognizes Assyrian and Armenian Christians as a religious minority (along with Jews and Zoroastrians) and they have representatives in the Parliament, after the 1979 Revolution, Muslim converts to Christianity (typically to Protestant Christianity) have been arrested and sometimes executed. [50] See also: Christianity in Iran.

In the Philippines, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Abu Sayyaf has attacked and killed Christians.[51]

Abdul Rahman, a 41-year-old Afghan citizen, was charged in Afghanistan with rejecting Islam (apostasy), a crime punishable by death under Sharia law. He has since been released into exile in the West under intense pressure from Western governments.[52][53]

[edit] Atheist persecution of Christians

[edit] The Dechristianization program during the French Reign of Terror

Main article: Dechristianisation of France during the French Revolution

1819 Caricature by George Cruikshank depicting the execution of Catholic clergy (note the mitre and bible under the guillotine)

1819 Caricature by George Cruikshank depicting the execution of Catholic clergy (note the mitre and bible under the guillotine)

. The Dechristianisation of France during the French Revolution is a conventional description of the results of a number of separate policies, conducted by various governments of France between the start of the French Revolution in 1789 and the Concordat of 1801.

The program of dechristianisation waged against Catholicism, and eventually against all forms of Christianity, included:

·      the deportation of clergy and the condemnation of many of them to death,

·      the closing of churches,

·      the institution of atheistic and deist cults, including the Cult of Reason and subsequently the Cult of the Supreme Being,

·      the large scale destruction of religious monuments,

·      the outlawing of public and private worship and religious education,

·      forced marriages of the clergy,

·      forced abjurement of priesthood, and

·      the enactment of a law on October 21, 1793 making all suspected priests and all persons who harbored them liable to death on sight.


The climax was reached with the celebration of the Goddess "Reason" in Notre Dame Cathedral on 10 November.

The dechristianisation of France reached its zenith around the middle of 1794 with the fall of Robespierre. By early 1795 a return to some form of religion-based faith was beginning to take shape and a law passed on February 21, 1795 legalized public worship, albeit with strict limitations. The ringing of church bells, religious processions and displays of the Christian cross were still forbidden. As late as 1799, priests were still being imprisoned or deported to penal colonies and persecution only worsened after the French army led by General Louis Alexandre Berthier captured Rome and imprisoned Pope Pius VI, who would die in captivity in Valence, France in August of 1799. Ultimately, with Napoleon now in ascendancy in France, year-long negotiations between government officials and the new Pope, Pius VII, led to the Concordat of 1801, formally ending the dechristianisation period and establishing the rules for a relationship between the church and the French State.

Victims of the Reign of Terror totaled approximately 40,000. Among those people who were condemned by the revolutionary tribunals, about 6 percent clergy [55] and countless others were killed or persecuted because of their faith. Of the various social groupings, the clergy of the Roman Catholic church suffered proportionately the greatest loss.

[edit] Communist persecution of Christians

Marxist ideology promotes atheism.[56] This can rarely lead communist-states to persecute Christians as well as other theists.

[edit] Persecution of Christians in the Soviet Union

Further information: Persecution of Christians in the Soviet Union and Human rights in the Soviet Union

After the Revolution of 1917, the Bolsheviks undertook a massive program to remove the influence of the Russian Orthodox Church from the government and Russian society, and to make the state atheist. Thousands of churches were destroyed or converted to other uses, such as warehouses. Monasteries were closed and often converted to prison camps, most notably the Solovetz monastery becoming Solovki camp. Many members of clergy were imprisoned for anti-government activities. These victims are now recognized as the "New Martyrs" by the Russian Orthodox Church, the old martyrs being the victims of the Roman persecutions. Church property, including the icons and other objects of worship (especially those made of precious metals) was confiscated and put to other uses.

While religion was never outlawed in the Soviet Union, and the Soviet Constitution actually guaranteed religious freedom to all Soviet citizens, persecution was still government policy.[citation needed] The persecution of the Russian Orthodox Church abated during World War II, at which time Stalin's government reached a truce with the Church in order to use it as part of its program to inspire Russian patriotic fervor. Nevertheless, the Soviet government sought to put the Church under control by appointing loyal men as priests, allegedly ending up with the entire upper ranks of the Church being officers of the KGB.

Throughout the 1920s and 1930s the celebration of Christmas and the traditional Russian holiday of New Year (Feast of the Circumcision of Christ) was prohibited (later on New Year was reinstated as a secular holiday and is now the most significant family holiday in Russia). Gatherings and religious processions were initially prohibited and later on strictly limited and regulated. In later years, a more subtle method of disrupting Christian holidays involved broadcasting very popular movies one after the other on the major holidays when believers are expected to participate in religious processions, especially during the Easter celebration. Apparently, this was intended to keep those whose faith was uncertain or wavering in their homes and glued to their TVs.[citation needed]

An intense ideological anti-Christian and anti-religious campaign was carried out throughout the history of the Soviet Union. An extensive education and propaganda campaign was undertaken to convince people, especially the children and youth, not to become believers. The role of the Christian religion and the Church was painted in black colors in school textbooks. For instance, much emphasis was placed on the role of the Church in such historical horror stories as the Inquisition, persecution of Galileo, Giordano Bruno, and other heretical scientists, and the Crusades. School students were encouraged to taunt and use peer pressure against classmates wearing crosses or otherwise professing their faith. In the 1920s there were many "anti-God" publications and social clubs sponsored by the government, most notably the scathingly satirical "Godless at the Workbench" ("Bezbozhnik u Stanka" in Russian). Later on, these disappeared because a new generation has grown up essentially atheist.[citation needed]

A "scientific" perspective was used to attack religion extensively. The Church was portrayed as obscurantist and opposed to the findings of science. Much was made of alleged Christian belief in the literal Creation account in the book of Genesis which the pro-Darwinian textbooks ridiculed.[citation needed] As part of the anti-foreign and anti-capitalist propaganda, an effort was made, especially in the 1920s and 1930s, to imprint in the minds of the people an image of the West as dominated by the anti-scientific ignorance of the Church, as opposed to the scientifically "progressive" atheist Soviet state.[citation needed]

In general, Christianity was portrayed as corrupt, hypocritical, a loyal servant of the reactionary czar, obscurantist, "opium for the people" according to Karl Marx, and otherwise evil. This Communist persecution of the Church proved enormously successful. Within the span of one generation, the traditionally highly devout Russian people became overwhelmingly atheist. This transformation was, for the most part, complete by the 1950s. As such, it counted as one of the greatest and the most successful persecutions Christianity had ever experienced, on par only with the destruction of Christianity in the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia Minor by the Islamic and Turkish conquests.[citation needed]

After the fall of the Soviet Union, the government of Russia openly embraced the Russian Orthodox Church, and there was a reputed renaissance in the number of the faithful in Russia. As of 2004 it is generally noted, however, that whereas a very large percent of Russians today identify themselves as believers and members of the Church (up from a very small group in the Soviet days), still relatively few of them actually attend church regularly, read the Bible, or otherwise take their communion with the Church seriously. For many, it seems, faith has become a matter of personal identification and readiness to baptize their children or have church marriage and burial ceremonies, and not much else. This is a clear testimony to the completeness and the long term success of the Communist persecution of the Christianity in Russia.[citation needed]Richard Wurmbrand, author of Tortured for Christ described the systematic persecution of Christians in one East Bloc nation. Many Christian believers in the Soviet Union have told of being imprisoned for no other reason than believing in God. Many have recently been canonized as saints following their death at the hands of Soviet authorities; they are collectively referred to in the Orthodox Church as the "new martyrs". (See also Enemy of the people, Gulag, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Varlam Shalamov)

[edit] Persecution in other Eastern Bloc nations

Further information: Persecution of Christians in Warsaw Pact countries

Enver Hoxha conducted a campaign to extinguish all forms of religion in Albania in 1967, closing all religious buildings and declaring the state atheist. Albania was the only Eastern Bloc nation that actually outlawed religion. See Communist and post-Communist Albania.[citation needed]

However, persecution of Christians, especially Protestants, Pentecostals and non-registered minority denominations, has continued after the fall of the Soviet Union, in many countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, notably Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Belarus.

[edit] Persecution of Christians in North Korea

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Persecution of Christians is currently the worst in North Korea.[57] About 300,000 Christians have been killed in North Korea since 1953.[58] About 100,000 are in the country's labour camps enduring torture and starvation. [59] The atheist state singles out the Christian prisoners for particularly severe treatment. [60]

[edit] Nazi-Fascist persecution

Although far less hostile to Christianity than to Judaism, which the Nazis sought to exterminate throughout the Third Reich and lands that came under Nazi rule, Nazi totalitarianism demanded that all religious activity conform to the desires of Nazi leadership. Christian churches were obliged to accept the racist doctrines of Nazism. The Gestapo monitored Christian clergy and congregations for any semblance of dissent with Nazi policies, and many Christian clergy and laymen ended up in concentration camps when they asserted opposition to the teachings and practices of Nazism or if they acted upon pacifist convictions (like many Jehovah's Witnesses and some Confessing Church members). During the early part of the Nazi rule, the "German Christians" were an important pseudo-Protestant tool of the regime to bring about the Gleichschaltung of the churches.

The expansion of Nazi Germany and the establishment of Nazi rule in occupied countries brought about persecutions ranging from those characteristic in Germany itself to conditions approaching those of the Soviet Union. Catholic priests in Poland that were opposed to the Nazis were taken to the concentration camps; many were murdered in the liquidation of the Polish intelligentsia. Due to its long historical association with Slavic cultures, Nazi occupation officials used collaborators such as the Roman Catholic Ustashe to specifically target Eastern Orthodox Christians in Yugoslavia. Roman Catholics were heavily persecuted in Nazi Germany because of their opposing views on Nazi eugenics and racial hatred.

In Italy the fascist regime of Mussolini persecuted Pentecostals, Jehovah's Witnesses and other Protestant groups following the Lateran Accords with the Roman Catholic church. In 1935, the interior minister Guido Buffarini Guidi ordered the complete break-up of the Pentecostalist network in Italy.[61]

[edit] Persecution of Christians in China

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[edit] Christian Origins in China and Early Persecution

Christians in China before 1550 by A.C. Moule notes a tradition that St. Thomas the Apostle made a mission to China. Francis Xavier, de Cruz , de Gouivea, and de Burros, writing in Latin, and Ebed Jesus, writng in Syriac, all mention the tradition of Thomas in China. There is also Chinese tradition of uncertain veracity regarding Christian missionaries in China in A.D. 64. There writings noting Christian missions in China from the second through sixth centuries. The first effective Christian missions to China of which we have detailed knowledge was in A.D. 635, sent by an eastern Patriarch. In Chang’an (Hsi-an) a great stone monument erected in 781, containing a list of missionaries, memorialized the mission to China in 635 spreading Christianity. At this time the emperor (whose mother was said to be a Turkish-Mongolian Nestorian) received the Christians openly, studying the scriptures and noting "their propriety and truth and specially ordered their preaching and transmission." A large number of manuscripts were found in north west China which address seventh and eighth century Christianity. The emperor Kao-tsung continued a policy of religious toleration.[62]

After Kao-tsung’s death, one of his queens Wu-Hou (Wu Chao) established Buddhism as the state religion in AD 691 and persecuted the Christians. A Nestorian tablet records the desecration and destruction of churches and monasteries. From 712 to 781 was a period of recovery for Christianity in China.[62]

[edit] Emperor Tang Wu Zong

Tang Wu Zong (of the Tang dynasty) ruled China from 840 to 846. Known as a Taoist zealot, he first suppressed Buddhism in China for its perceived status as a "foreign" religion. He then attacked all other "foreign" religions, including Christianity. Nestorianism, the only Chinese Christian branch at that time, was virtually wiped out in China. Part of the reason for the persecution was the existence of both Christian and Buddhist monasteries which were perceived to have a negative effect on the economy and cultural life of China. Christianity largely disappeared from China, its only substantial remnants in the regions past the Tarim desert from which it had made its entry.[62]

Chinese records contain substantial documentation of the Great Anti-Buddhist Persecution begun in A.D. 845. The records declare that the other alien faiths, Zoroastrianism and Christianity, were considered Buddhist heresies and were likewise proscribed in the edicts. The law in 845 abolished almost all the monasteries and seized their property. "As for the Tai-Ch’in (Syrian or Christian) and Muh-hu (Zoroastrian) forms of worship, since Buddhism has already been cast out, these heresies alone must not be allowed to survive. People belonging to these also are to be compelled to return to the world, belong again to their own districts, and become tax payers. As for foreigners, let them be returned to their own countries, there to suffer restraint."[62]

The persecution lasted for twenty months but had lasting effects. The foreign missionaries who did not stay underground probably ventured back across the Tarim desert or sailed back to the Middle East. The Chinese who were members of religious orders returned to their homes to live secular lives. It was not until the advent of the Mongols and their toleration of Christians under the Mongol (Yuan) dynasty (1259-1386) that Christianity found another opportunity to spread in China. The writings of Marco Polo speak of widespread Christian communities strewn throughout China, noted in at least a dozen cities.[62]

[edit] Under the Ming Dynasty

With the defeat of the Mongols. China became increasingly xenophobic in area of religion. "China as it has so often done, turned away from the world and turned in upon itself. The new China was to be isolationist, nationalist, and orthodox Confucian, ruled by a completely China centered dynasty, the Ming (1368-1644)." [63] There is not much contemporaneous evidence of direct religious persecution, but later writers believed those associated with Mongols, whether Christian or Muslim, were massacred with their patrons. K.S. Latourette observed, "It is just as likely that Nestorians and foreigners were killed indiscriminately in the pursuit of Mongols, and without foreign support a church that became dependent upon it withered away."[64]

Did Christianity completely disappear from China after the fall of the Mongols? We are not sure of this. It is unlikely that Christianity completely disappeared. There might have been small groups here and there. But its visibility has disappeared.[62]

[edit] Qing Dynasty

When Jiaqing Emperor of China declared the closed-door policy, Christianity suffered the first repercussions under the Qing Dynasty. After the Opium War, Christians became a target of hatred and many Christians were killed in the Boxer Rebellion.[citation needed]

[edit] People's Republic of China

Main article: Status of religious freedom in People's Republic of China

The communist government of the People's Republic of China tries to maintain tight control over all religions, so the only legal Christian Churches (Three-Self Patriotic Movement and Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association) are those under the Communist Party of China control. Churches which are not controlled by the government are shut down, and their members are imprisoned.[65] Teaching in those Churches is importantly modified towards party's goals in its internal politics. By doing this they forced Christians to compromise their belief or the law to practice their beliefs (see article on Chinese House Churches) with all the subsequent consequences for them. 106 Orthodox churches were opened in China by 1949. In general the parishioners of these churches were Russian refugees, and the Chinese part was composed of about 10,000 people. The Cultural Revolution obliterated or nearly obliterated the Chinese Orthodox Church, such as St Nicholas' Orthodox church in Harbin province (see Chinese Orthodox Church).[citation needed]

[edit] Persecution of Christians in 19th Century Korea

Main article: Korean Martyrs

The Christian faith came to Korea at the beginning of the 17th century, primarily through the work of lay catechists, until the arrival of the first French missionaries in 1836. The Catholic community suffered major persecutions in the years 1839, 1846 and 1866, producing at least 8,000 known martyrs. Among them were the fervent Korean priest Andrew Kim Taegŏn and the Korean lay catechist Paul Chŏng Hasang. The vast majority of the martyrs were simple lay people, including men and women, married and single, old and young. The members of this group of martyrs have been canonized as saints, with feast day September 20. Currently, Korea has the 4th largest number of saints in the Catholic world.

From the last letter of Andrew Kim Taegŏn to his parish as he awaited martyrdom with a group of twenty persons:

My dear brothers and sisters, know this: Our Lord Jesus Christ upon descending into the world took innumerable pains upon and constituted the holy Church through his own passion and increases it through the passion of its faithful....

Now, however, some fifty or sixty years since holy Church entered into our Korea, the faithful suffer persecutions again. Even today persecution rages, so that many of our friends of the same faith, among whom am I myself, have been thrown into prison. Just as you also remain in the midst of persecution. Since we have formed one body, how can we not be saddened in our innermost hearts? How can we not experience the pain of separation in our human faculties?

However, as Scripture says, God cares for the least hair of our heads, and indeed he cares with his omniscience; therefore, how can persecution be considered as anything other than the command of God, or his prize, or precisely his punishment?...

We are twenty here, and thanks be to God all are still well. If anyone is killed, I beg you not to forget his family. I have many more things to say, but how can I express them with pen and paper? I make an end to this letter. Since we are now close to the struggle, I pray you to walk in faith, so that when you have finally entered into Heaven, we may greet one another. I leave you my kiss of love.

The martyrs were canonized in 1984 by Pope John Paul II. In a break with tradition, the ceremony did not take place in Rome, but in Seoul.

[edit] Persecution of Christians in Japan

The factual accuracy of this article is disputed.
Please see the relevant discussion on the talk page.

[edit] Arrival of Christianity

In the early 1500s Christianity was brought to Japan by a Spanish Jesuit named Francis Xavier. Following its arrival, Christianity gained some ground.

[edit] Edo Period

As the Sengoku period drew to a close in the late 1500s, the reigning kampaku Hideyoshi Toyotomi became concerned with the Christians on account of a number of perceived offenses.[citation needed] These included the slaughter of cows for meat, incitements to rioting and the involvement of the Portuguese and Spanish in the slave trade.[citation needed] Moreover, Hideyoshi was of the opinion that those Christian feudal warlords (daimyo) had more favorable trading conditions with Europeans and perceived this as a threat to his authority.[citation needed] In the end, he decided to drive out the missionaries and killed 26 Christians as an example.[66] Still, the trade continued. Japanese Christians were allowed to keep their faith but preaching and foreign missionaries were banned.[citation needed] Later, the Tokugawa shogunate inherited the policy.[citation needed] However, the Tokugawa Shogunate decided to close off Japan from foreign contact except for government sanctioned trade. As a part of this policy, in 1614 Shogun Ieyasu issued an edict of persecution and ensured its implementation: churches were destroyed, any foreign missionaries caught were expelled.[citation needed] Also all Japanese were required to register with a Buddhist temple as Buddhists.[citation needed] Japanese Christians modified statues and icons in Buddhist fashion to continue their faith. The defining moment was the Shimabara Rebellion (ja: 島原の乱, shimabara no ran), a massive uprising of Japanese peasants in Shimabara, many of them Christians, in 1637-1638. Tens of thousands of rebels were killed, many being burned alive or crucified. While the main cause of the uprising was protesting against a harsh taxing policy, the Shogunate suspected that Western Catholics had been involved in spreading the rebellion and Portuguese traders were driven out of the country. The Dutch were allowed to continue trading because they assured the Shogunate that they had no interest in spreading Christianity. An already existing ban on the Christian religion was then enforced strictly. The punishment of being a Christian was now execution. Many Christians were forced to convert to Buddhism. Christianity in Japan survived only by going underground, turning into something called kakure kirishitan. Shusaku Endo's novels Silence and The Samurai recount some of these events.[citation needed]

[edit] Meiji Revolution and WWII

During the Meiji era, Western governments continued to pressure the Japanese authorities to legalize Christianity. As a result, public notices proclaiming Christianity a forbidden sect were taken down in 1873. Ever since, Japanese authorities turned a blind eye to missionary preaching. In 1889, a new constitution was finally set in place that guaranteed religious freedom and equality under the law. As a result, Christians could worship and preach in security.[67] During World War II Shinto became the official state religion of Japan and all others were banned, with varying degrees of punishment.[citation needed] The persecution, specifically toward Christians (Especially Protestants, who were seen as sympathetic to the Allies), intensified until the end of the war, as non-Shinto were seen as traitors to Japan.[citation needed]

[edit] 1945 onwards

After the surrender of Japan in 1945, the government was forced to enact freedom of religion as part of the surrender. After Japan regained her sovereignty, freedom of religion remained as part of the new Constitution of Japan.

[edit] Early 20th Century Mexico

Main article: Persecution of Christians in Mexico

Due to the persecution of the church by the state in Mexico, armed conflict broke out in the Cristero War (also known as the Cristiada) of 1926 to 1929. This was a popular uprising against the anti-clerical Mexican government of the time.

The Cristero War came about in response to the anti-clerical laws of the Mexican Constitution of 1917, and its interpretation by President Plutarco Elías Calles. Though conflict between state and church marked the presidency of Alvaro Obregón (1920-1924), it was with Calles's election in 1924 that anti-clerical laws were stringently applied throughout the country. Calles also added his own anti-clerical legislation. He presided over the worst persecution of Catholics and clergy in the history of Mexico, including the killing of hundreds of priests and other clergy.[citation needed] Even wearing clerical garb was outlawed during his rule and a priest who criticized the government could be imprisoned for five years.

The formal rebellion began on January 1, 1927 with the rebels calling themselves Cristeros because they felt they were fighting for Christ himself. Just as the Cristeros began to hold their own against the federal forces, the rebellion was ended by diplomatic means, in large part due to the pressure of U.S. Ambassador Dwight Whitney Morrow. The war had claimed the lives of some 90,000: 56,882 on the federal side, 30,000 Cristeros, and numerous civilians and Cristeros who were killed in anticlerical raids after the war's end.

Before the order to fire was given, Miguel Pro, a priest killed for his faith, spread his arms in the form of a cross.

Before the order to fire was given, Miguel Pro, a priest killed for his faith, spread his arms in the form of a cross.

The persecution was worst under the rule of Tabasco’s notorious governor Tomás Garrido Canabal. Garrido's rule, which marked the apogee of Mexican anti-clericalism, was supported by the Radical Socialist Party of Tabasco (PRST) of which he was the leader. During his governorship, the state capital San Juan Bautista ("St. John the Baptist") was renamed Villa Hermosa ("Beautiful Town").[68] Garrido Canabal founded several fascist organizations "that terrorized Roman Catholics"[69], most notably the so called "Red Shirts". [70][71]

[edit] During the Spanish Civil War

During the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s, and in the context of atrocities on both sides (eventually far higher on the Nationalist side), many of the Republican forces were violently anti-Christian and anti-clerical anarchists and Communists, whose assaults during what has been termed Spain's Red Terror included sacking and burning monasteries and churches and killing 6,832 members of the Catholic clergy (despite the fact that the vast majority of clergy were not involved in active opposition to the Republican forces). [72] [73] The Republican forces were supported by the Soviet Union, the anti-Clerical government in Mexico, and international communists. Republican forces engaged in the wholesale destruction and desecration of religious symbols. One famous photograph shows dozens of leftist soldiers with rifles firing at a statue of Christ.

Church turned into a "Casa del Pueblo" or "House of the People"

Church turned into a "Casa del Pueblo" or "House of the People"

Attitudes to the "red terror" varied, even on the Republican side. President Manuel Azaña made the well-publicized comment that all of the convents in Madrid were not worth one Republican life.[74] Yet equally "commonly cited, for example, is the speech by the Socialist leader Indalecio Prieto on Madrid radio on 9 August 1936 pleading that Republican militiamen should not ‘imitate’ the murderous actions of the military rebels" and also "the public condemnation of arbitrary ‘justice’ by Julián Zugazagoitia, the editor of El Socialista, the Socialist Party newspaper, on 23 August."[75] Julius Ruiz goes on to note, however, that "not cited [. . .] are El Socialista’s regular reports extolling the work of the Atadell brigade," a group of Republican agents who engaged in detentions and frequently murders of (in the end) up to 800 Nationalists. "On 27 September 1936," Ruiz continues, "an editorial on the brigade stressed that its ‘work, more than useful, is necessary. Indispensable.’ Similarly, the Prieto-controlled Madrid daily Informaciones carried numerous articles on the activities of the Atadell brigade during the summer of 1936."[76]

There are accounts of Catholic faithful being forced to swallow rosary beads, thrown down mine shafts and priests being forced to dig their own graves before being buried alive. [77] It was not uncommon that clergy and the faithful were tortured and some leftist soldiers would cut off the ears of priests as trophies. The Catholic Church has seen fit to canonize several martyrs of the Spanish Civil War.

[edit] Persecution of Christians in India

[edit] By national and state governments

Many Christians in India regard anti-conversion laws passed by some states in India as a restraint on religious freedom, a view taken by the State Department of the United States[78][79].

In October 2002, governor of Tamil Nadu issued an ordinance aimed at preventing people from converting to Christianity[citation needed], on the grounds that such conversions occur due to fraud. The accused may be sentenced to up to three years in jail if convicted of such a crime. It should be noted that the majority of instances of persecutions of Christians in India do not involve the native Saint Thomas Christians, but rather Latin Rite Roman Catholics and Protestants.[citation needed] This ordinance was reportedly later repealed.

In July, 2006, Madhya Pradesh government passed legislation requiring people who desire to convert to a different religion to provide the government with one-month's notice, or face fines and penalties. [80]

In August, 2006, the Chhattisgarh State Assembly passed similar legislation requiring anyone who desires to convert to another religion to give 30 days' notice to, and seek permission from, the district magistrate. [81].

In February, 2007, Himachal Pradesh became the first Congress Party ruled state to adopt legislation banning illegal religious conversions.[82]

[edit] By Hindu Nationalists

Hindu nationalist attacks against Christians, especially in the states of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, and Orissa, have occurred in recent years[83]. According to a report by the Center for Religious Freedom the attacks include the alleged murder of missionaries and priests, the sexual assault of nuns, the ransacking of churches, convents and other Christian institutions, the desecration of cemeteries and Bible burnings.[84]. Graham Staines, an Australian missionary, and his children were burnt to death by a mob led by Dara Singh who had previously been involved in the cow protection movement and had earlier targeted Muslim cattle traders. He and his associates in the crime were "active sympathisers" of Hindutva groups, but not members of any organisations [85].

However it has been argued that local factional feuds, banditry and simple criminality are more important explanations for the murders and rapes than religious intolerance.[86]

[edit] By Muslims

Muslims in India who convert to Christianity are often subjected to harassment, intimidation, and attacks by Muslims. In Kashmir, a region with many Islamic Fundamentalists, a Christian convert named Bashir Tantray was killed , allegedly by Militants in 2006[87].

A Christian priest, K.K. Alavi, who is a convert from Islam, recently raised the ire of his former Muslim community and has received many death threats. A group named "The National Development Front" actively campaigned against him.[88]

[edit] Persecution of Christians in Africa

·      In the 11 Northern states of Nigeria that have introduced the Islamic system of law, the Sharia, sectarian clashes between Muslims and Christians have resulted in many deaths, and some churches have been burned. More than 30,000 Christians were displaced from their homes Kano, the largest city in northern Nigeria.[89]

·      Copts in Egypt are often subject to attacks. The most significant was the 2000-2001 El Kosheh attacks, in which 21 Copts and 1 Muslim were killed. A 2006 attack on three churches in Alexandria left one dead and 17 injured. Though they are accepted officially, Copts claim that discrimination against them continues.

[edit] Recent Christian persecution in other countries

A partial list of countries not already mentioned above where significant recent persecution of Christians exists includes North Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Sri Lanka[90], Bhutan, Maldives, Serbia (Kosovo), Afghanistan, Thailand, China, Lebanon, Syria, the Sudan (Darfur), Cambodia, Egypt, and Turkey[91]. Persecuted Christians in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia are supported by the Montagnard Foundation.[citation needed]

[edit] References

1.  ^ 20TH CENTURY SAW 65% OF CHRISTIAN MARTYRS, 10 May 2002 -- Zenit News Agency

2.  ^ Walter Laqueur (2006): The Changing Face of Antisemitism: From Ancient Times to the Present Day, Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-530429-2. p.45

3.  ^ Acts 4:1-22, 5:17-42, 6:8-7:60, 22:30-23:22

4.  ^ Walter Laqueur (2006): The Changing Face of Antisemitism: From Ancient Times to the Present Day, Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-530429-2. p.46-48

5.  ^ The Persecution of the Jews in the Roman Empire (300-428) by James Everett Seaver. University of Kansas Publications, 1952. Humanistic Studies, No. 30

6.  ^ Tertullian's readership was more likely to have been Christians, whose faith was reinforced by Tertullian's defenses of faith against rationalizations.

7.  ^ Peter Heather & John Matthews, Goths in the Fourth Century, pp. 96ff

8.  ^

9.  ^

10.   ^

11.   ^ The Australian Institute for Holocaust and Genocide Studies The New York Times.

12.   ^

13.   ^ "MEPs back Armenia genocide clause in Turkey report" by Lucia Kubosova, published by EU Observer on 5 September 2006

14.   ^ "Goldenes Kreuz unter der Bluse", Der Spiegel Online, September 17, 2006. 

15.   ^ Der Spiegel, Three Killed at Bible Publishing Firm

16.   ^ BBC, Christians Killed in Turkey

17.   ^ Christians, targeted and suffering, flee Iraq

18.   ^ Terror campaign targets Chaldean church in Iraq

19.   ^ The annihilation of Iraq[unreliable source?]

20.   ^

21.   ^ UNHCR | Iraq

22.   ^ Christians live in fear of death squads

23.   ^ 'We're staying and we will resist'

24.   ^ Iraq's Christians Flock to Lebanon

25.   ^ Christians Fleeing Violence in Iraq

26.   ^ Iraq refugees chased from home, struggle to cope

27.   ^ U.N.: 100,000 Iraq refugees flee monthly. Alexander G. Higgins, Boston Globe, November 3, 2006

28.   ^ Ann McFeatters: Iraq refugees find no refuge in America. Seattle Post-Intelligencer May 25, 2007

29.   ^ a b Fr Ragheed Ganni -- The Independant (14 June 2007)

30.   ^

31.   ^

32.   ^ War and Genocide in Sudan

33.   ^ The Lost Children of Sudan

34.   ^

35.   ^

36.   ^ Pakistan's Christians under siege -- BBC

37.   ^

38.   ^

39.   ^

40.   ^ Christian beaten for drinking water, Worldnet Daily

41.   ^ Christian attacked for polluting,Pakistan Christian Post

42.   ^ a b

43.   ^

44.   ^

45.   ^

46.   ^

47.   ^

48.   ^

49.   ^ Palestinian Christians: An Historic Community at Risk?, by Don Wagner (Palestine Center - Information Brief No. 89, 12 March 2002) quoting Bethlehem University sociologist Bernard Sabella (see Palestinian Christians: Challenges and Hopes).

50.   ^ Iran Religious and Ethnic Minorities: Discrimination in Law And Practice. Human Rights Watch (1997). Retrieved on 2007-03-22.

51.   ^

52.   ^

53.   ^

54.   ^ Latreille, A. FRENCH REVOLUTION, New Catholic Encyclopedia v. 5, pp. 972-973 (Second Ed. 2002 Thompson/Gale) ISBN 0-7876-4004-2

55.   ^ Harvey, Donald Joseph FRENCH REVOLUTION, 2006 (Accessed April 27,2007)

56.   ^ Symbols, Conflict, and Identity: Essays in Political Anthropology by Zdzisław Mach, page 152

57.   ^

58.   ^ Yun Li-sun, Joseph Religion spreading among soldiers, secret directive issued to eradicate it Asia News Sept. 13, 2007

59.   ^ Yun Li-sun, Joseph Religion spreading among soldiers, secret directive issued to eradicate it Asia News Sept. 13, 2007

60.   ^ Yun Li-sun, Joseph Religion spreading among soldiers, secret directive issued to eradicate it Asia News Sept. 13, 2007

61.   ^ [ For the Cause of Christ here in Italy]

62.   ^ a b c d e f Philip, T. V. East of the Euphrates: Early Christianity in Asia. India: CSS & ISPCK, India, 1998 (See here)

63.   ^ Moffett, Samuel, Hugh A History of Christianity in Asia p.474.

64.   ^ K. Latourette, Missions in China, p. 74

65.   ^

66.   ^

67.   ^ Mary Jane Engh, In the Name of Heaven: 3,000 Years of Religious Persecution,(Prometheus Books, 2007, pp. 222)

68.   ^ Alan Knight, "Popular Culture and the Revolutionary State in Mexico, 1910-1940." The Hispanic American Historical Review 74.3 (August 1994): 407.

69.   ^ "Garrido Canabal, Tomás". The Columbia Encyclopedia Sixth Edition (2005).

70.   ^ "Garrido Canabal, Tomás". The Columbia Encyclopedia Sixth Edition (2005).

71.   ^ Stan Ridgeway, "Monoculture, Monopoly, and the Mexican Revolution" Mexican Studies / Estudios Mexicanos 17.1 (Winter, 2001): 167.

72.   ^ de la Cueva, Julio "Religious Persecution, Anticlerical Tradition and Revolution: On Atrocities against the Clergy during the Spanish Civil War" Journal of Contemporary History Vol.33(3) p. 355

73.   ^ Payne, Stanley G. THE A History of Spain and Portugal, Vol. 2, Ch. 26, p. 650 (Print Edition: University of Wisconsin Press, 1973) (LIBRARY OF IBERIAN RESOURCES ONLINE Accessed May 15, 2007)

74.   ^ David Mitchell, The Spanish Civil War (New York: Franklin Watts, 1983), 17.

75.   ^ Julius Ruiz, "Defending the Republic: The García Atadell Brigade in Madrid, 1936". Journal of Contemporary History 42.1 (2007): 100.

76.   ^ Julius Ruiz, "Defending the Republic: The García Atadell Brigade in Madrid, 1936". Journal of Contemporary History 42.1 (2007): 100.

77.   ^ Beevor, Antony The Battle for Spain (Penguin 2006).

78.   ^ TOI on US report

79.   ^ Thanks to Modi, India clubbed with Saudi Arabia - Economic Times

80.   ^ Conversions harder in India state 26/07/2006

81.   ^ Christian anger at conversion law 04/08/2006

82.   ^

83.   ^

84.   ^ The Rise of Hindu Extremism and the Repression of Christian and Muslim minorities in India, A Report by Center for Religious Freedom, 2003

85.   ^

86.   ^

87.   ^ Christian convert from Islam shot dead in Kashmir,SperoNews

88.   ^ Convert from Islam in India Remains on Death List,Christian Examiner

89.   ^ Nigeria Christian / Muslim Conflict. (2005-04-27). Retrieved on 2007-06-05.

90.   ^ Amnesty International Report 2005 Sri Lanka indicates that Christian groups have reported persecution by Buddhist villagers

91.   ^ Persecution (murders and suppression) in 2006 and 2007

[edit] Sources

·      W.H.C. Frend, 1965. Martyrdom and Persecution in the Early Church

·      Let My People Go: The True Story of Present-Day Persecution and Slavery Cal. R. Bombay, Multnomah Publishers, 1998

·      Their Blood Cries Out Paul Marshall and Lela Gilbert, World Press, 1997.

·      In the Lion's Den: Persecuted Christians and What the Western Church Can Do About It Nina Shea, Broadman & Holman, 1997.

·      This Holy Seed: Faith, Hope and Love in the Early Churches of North Africa Robin Daniel, Tamarisk Publications, 1993. ISBN 0-9520435-0-5

·      Let My People Go: The True Story of Present-Day Persecution and Slavery Cal. R. Bombay, Multnomah Publishers, 1998

·      In the Shadow of the Cross: A Biblical Theology of Persecution and Discipleship Glenn M. Penner, Living Sacrifice Books, 2004

·      Catholic Martyrs of the Twentieth Century: A Comprehensive World History by Robert Royal, Crossroad/Herder & Herder; (April 2000). ISBN 0-8245-1846-2

·      Islam's Dark Side - The Orwellian State of Sudan, The Economist, 24 June 1995.

·      Sharia and the IMF: Three Years of Revolution, SUDANOW, September 1992.

·      Final Document of the Synod of the Catholic Diocese of Khartoum, 1991. [noting "oppression and persecution of Christians"]

·      Human Rights Voice, published by the Sudan Human Rights Organization, Volume I, Issue 3, July/August 1992 [detailing forcible closure of churches, expulsion of priests, forced displacement of populations, forced Islamisation and Arabisation, and other repressive measures of the Government].

·      Khalidi, Walid. "All that Remains: The Palestinian Villages Occupied and Depopulated by Israel in 1948." 1992. ISBN 0-88728-224-5.

·      Sudan - A Cry for Peace, published by Pax Christi International, Brussels, Belgium, 1994

·      Sudan - Refugees in their own country: The Forced Relocation of Squatters and Displaced People from Khartoum, in Volume 4, Issue 10, of News from Africa Watch, 10 July 1992.

·      Human Rights Violations in Sudan, by the Sudan Human Rights Organization, February 1994. [accounts of widespread torture, ethnic cleansing and crucifixion of pastors].

·      Pax Romana statement of Macram Max Gassis, Bishop of El Obeid], to the Fiftieth Session of the UN Commission on Human Rights, Geneva, February 1994 [accounts of widespread destruction of hundreds of churches, forced conversions of Christians to Islam, concentration camps, genocide of the Nuba people, systematic rape of women, enslavement of children, torture of priests and clerics, burning alive of pastors and catechists, crucifixion and mutilation of priests].

[edit] See also

·      Christianophobia

·      Barnabas Fund

·      Christian pacifism

·      Christian Solidarity Worldwide

·      Anti-Protestantism

·      Anti-Catholic

·      Martyrs Mirror

·      Forum 18

·      Foxe's Book of Martyrs

·      Voice of the Martyrs

·      Persecution of Heathens

·      Historical persecution by Christians

·      Jizya

·      Abdul Rahman (convert)

·      Compass Direct

·      Open Doors

·      Persecution of Muslims

·      Persecution of Jews

·      Religious intolerance

·      Religious persecution

·      Religious pluralism

·      Protestantism in China

·      Category:Christian martyrs

[edit] External links

·      Voice of the Martyrs, VOM Australia and also VOM Canada

·      International Christian Concern

·      Christian Monitor

·      Coptic Christians persecuted in Egypt

·      Montagnard Foundation supporting Christians persecuted in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia

·      Anti-Slavery organization

·      "The Vengeance of the Jews Was Stronger Than Their Avarice: Modern Historians and the Persian Conquest of Jerusalem in 614" by Elliott Horowitz (Jewish Social Studies Volume 4, Number 2)

·      About the Noahide Laws

·      On the persecution of Catholics in Mexico

·      The Catholic League Anti-Catholic Bigotry in the United States

·      Graeme Clark, "Christians and the Roman State 193-324"

·      Christian Persecution in Bhutan

·      Catholic Answers

·      Christian Persecution in Lebanon (On Rebuilding the 46 Catholic Churches destroyed in 1985 by extremist militias)

·      Photojournalist's Account - Images of Sudan's persecution

·      Christian Persecution in Sri Lanka

·      Christian Persecution Info by Worthy Ministries

·      China Aid Association - Advocacy for the Persecuted Faithful in China

·      Tietoa vainotuista suomeksi - Espoon helluntaikirkon sivut - Information about persecution in Finnish

·      Daily updates about Christian persecution in India

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