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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Persecution of Christians on the Rise

At Least 55,000 Christians Are Killed for their Faith Every Year

By Wolfgang Polzer

Special to ASSIST News Service

DRESDEN (ANS) — The number of persecuted Christians is on the rise worldwide, according to Professor Thomas Schirrmacher, director of the Religious Liberty Commission of the German Evangelical Alliance.

Three in four cases of severe persecution are targeted at Christians, said Schirrmacher in a lecture at a gathering of the Protestant Association of the Christian Democratic Union in Dresden .

According to Schirrmacher at least 55,000 Christians are killed each year for religious reasons. Christians in India , Indonesia and Pakistan run the highest risk of losing their lives.

Schirrmacher encouraged politicians to increase their efforts for religious freedom. They were often reluctant to address the persecution and discrimination of Christians in Islamic countries in case this may jeopardize religious dialog.

Schirrmacher is convinced that interest in religion is rising worldwide: “The Communist atheistic realm has shrunk to small countries like North Korea ”. Christianity is experiencing phenomenal growth outside the Western world.

Many Chinese intellectuals, for instance, regard the Christian faith as “trendy”, said Schirrmacher. The number of worshippers in China exceeds the Sunday service attendance in Europe . Since 1970 the number of Christians has tripled in Africa and Asia and doubled in Latin America .

Because of the decreasing numbers in Europe these developments are not very noticeable on a world scale. Christianity grows annually by 1.25 percent, roughly in line with the population growth of 1.22 percent.