Washington D.C., Dec 5, 2013 / 05:10 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Researchers say the Christian population is growing in regions that experience anti-Christian persecution, though this threatens their ability to contribute to societies.
“Persecution is growing because Christianity is growing in the places where people are persecuted,” said Todd Johnson of the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.
Speaking during a Dec. 5 media call, he characterized anti-Christian persecution as “growing fast.” His research estimates that one in five Christians, 500 million people, currently live in countries where Christians are likely to be persecuted. By 2020, their numbers are expected to rise to 600 million, 25 percent of the Christian population.
Johnson noted that the Christian population has significantly shifted from Europe and North America to the “Global South”: Africa, Asia and Latin America.
He also observed a change from 20th century anti-Christian persecution, which was predominantly state-based.
“Persecution in the 21st century is both state-based and society-based,” Johnson said. “Persecutors today represent a wide variety of ideologies: communist, national security state, religious nationalists, and Muslim majorities.”
However, Muslim majority countries’ persecution of Christians makes up only 25 percent of all such oppression.
Johnson is one of several scholars who will be taking part in the upcoming conference, “Christianity and Freedom: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives.” The conference, which will be held Dec. 13-14 at the Pontifical Urbaniana University in Rome, aims to highlight Christianity’s political, religious and economic contributions.
Timothy Shah of the Center for the Study of Global Christianity, also participated in the media call, explaining that the Rome conference intends to “get behind the headlines” about global anti-Christian persecution and ask “fundamental questions” about trends in persecution and their impact on society and global stability.
“Wherever you look, there are headlines about this growing phenomenon of attacks (and) persecution against Christian communities, from Indonesia to China, to India, to sub-Saharan Africa and to the Middle East,” Shah said.
Also discussed during the Dec. 5 conference call was the situation of Coptic Christians in Egypt.
Mariz Tadros of the University of Sussex noted that Christians in the Middle East do not consider themselves “minorities” because “they see themselves as part of the fabric of society. They see their faith extending over 2,000 years to when the initial churches were built.”
She said that the recent political revolution in Egypt initially had an “extremely inclusive” goal to create space for all citizens irrespective of their (Read More)