Christian Martyrs Today: North Korea Threat Still The Largest

There are more Christian martyrs today than there have been in recent years. According to a report released by the organization Open Doors, Christians being killed for their faith more than doubled in 2013. Approximately 1,201 followers of the Christian faith were killed for their beliefs in 2012. The number of Christian martyrs worldwide today is 2,123. The report also listed the North Korea threat as the highest in the world. More Christians reportedly died in Syria than in North Korea, but the danger level for being a Christian in North Korea can not be quantified.

While that number may appear to be low, it actually only represents a small portion of actual killing of Christians. Open Doors used official reports from the media and the countries themselves. But other organizations seeking to raise awareness of global Christian persecution, like Voice of the Martyrs, estimate the real number of Christian martyrs is closer to 8,000.

North Korea has posed the largest threat to Christians according to Open Doors since they began reporting on the subject in 2002. In the list of 50 countries, radical Islamist extremists were the main cause of Christian martyrs in 36 countries. Frans Veerman, head of research for Open Doors, told Reuters, “Islamist extremism is the worst persecutor of the worldwide church.”

It is estimated there are about 2.2 billion Christian worldwide and are persecuted in a total of 111 different countries. The second largest belief system, Islam, is persecuted in about 90 countries. Civil wars and religious fighting is the largest cause for Christian martyrs. Syria, where the most Christians were killed for their faith is a good example. Syria is in the midst of a brutal civil war complicated by political and religious issues. But there is an underlying war on the church brewing. It goes largely unnoticed in the news because of the other fighting happening.

With radical Islam spreading deeply into Africa, the continent is seeing more and more hostility towards the Christian faith. Nigeria and Egypt both found themselves in the top five largest killers of Christians. Somalian Christians are also some of the most recent targets in a country torn by fighting. There is a push to purge Christians from the nation.

While the North Korean threat doesn’t include a number of deaths, the nation is known for holding underground Christians in prison camps. There are a reported 50,000 to 70,000 people currently in such camps. With the rise of Kim Jong-un the country does not seem to be getting any better for Christians.

As Christian martyrs today continue to grow, it begs the question, “is global Christianity in trouble?”