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 WORLD SITUATION FOR CHRISTIANS

SOURCES: INFORMATION FOR THE COUNTRY SUMMARIES CAME FROM OPERATION WORLD,VOM REPORTS,THE WORLD FACTBOOK, and OTHER SOURCES

Afghanistan

Afghanistan is plagued by criminality, insecurity and the recently elected government’s inability to control all parts of the country. One of its most serious challenges is the growing, illegal opium trade. In the last year, the Taliban have been burning schools, forcing 226 to close.

Religion: Muslim 97.89%, Christian 0.02%

Ideological Influence: Islam

Head of State: President Hamid Karzai

Persecution: Anyone who acknowledges faith in Christ experiences intense persecution, including death. Persecution normally comes from family members and neighbors, while police and government officials turn a blind eye. The world’s attention was drawn back to Afghanistan summer 2007, when 23 South Korean Christians on a humanitarian mission trip were kidnapped by the Taliban.

 2008/5/23 0:34









 Re: WORLD SITUATION FOR CHRISTIANS

Algeria

Algeria has suffered from both internal and external war for nearly half a century. Ethnic minority Berbers have long been agitating for autonomy. Also, the activities of extremist militants continue, though they have abated somewhat.

Religion: Muslim 96.68.%, Christian 0.29%

Ideological Influence: Islam

Head of State: President Abdelaziz Bouteflika

Persecution: Since a revival in 1988, more than 70,000 Algerians have converted to Christianity. A second anti-conversion law restricting Christian evangelism was implemented in June 2007. The move is intended to put the first law, passed March 2006, into practice. Those found guilty of “shaking the faith” of a Muslim face punishment of two to five years in prison and a maximum fine of about $12,000 U.S. The same punishment is applied to anyone publishing or keeping literature and/or audio-video materials that threaten the Islamic faith. Through this law, an era of relative liberty to practice Christian faith ended.

 2008/5/23 0:36









 Re: WORLD SITUATION FOR CHRISTIANS

Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan is a former republic of the USSR, which gained independence in 1991. After independence, the country faced internal coups and war with Armenia. The majority of the population lives in poverty.

Religion: Muslim 83.67%, Christian 4.63%

Ideological Influence:Islam/Communism

Head of State: President Ilham Aliyev

Persecution: Most of Azerbaijan’s towns and villages have never been evangelized. Zaur Balaev, a Baptist pastor in a remote area of Azerbaijan, was arrested and charged with “resisting government representatives.” He was sentenced to a two-year prison term in August 2007. The head of the Baptist Union said the region where Zaur was detained is “a place where officials insult our believers, won’t allow them to gain legal status and deny birth certificates to their children.” There has been a push by the government and state-controlled media for the Azeri people to return to their “ancestral faith,” Islam.

 2008/5/23 0:38









 Re: WORLD SITUATION FOR CHRISTIANS

Bangladesh

Bangladesh is consistently plagued by frequent floods and cyclones that cause billions of dollars worth of damage and the tragic loss of many lives, making deep poverty and social unrest commonplace. Islamic extremism is on the rise in this nation of 150 million.

Religion: Muslim 85.63%, Christian 0.72%

Ideological Influence: Islam

Head of State: President Iajuddin Ahmed

Persecution: In July 2007, Muslim villagers attacked and severely beat 41 former Muslim converts. The next day, the Christians were given 24 hours to get out of the village or face further beatings and the destruction of their homes. Police who were to protect the Christians for three months left after only a week. The believers were also banned from using the village well, a common form of ostracism. Churches have been growing at twice the population rate during the past 40 years. However, poverty, illiteracy and lack of trained and godly leadership have led to shallowness of faith and nominalism.

 2008/5/23 0:40









 Re: WORLD SITUATION FOR CHRISTIANS

Belarus

Belarus became an independent state in 1991, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The failure to change Soviet economic structures has stimulated inflation, hindered foreign investment and crippled economic development.

Religion: Christian 78.70%, non-Religious/other 21.30%

Ideological Influence: Communism (remaining influence)

Head of State: President Aleksandr Lukashenko

Persecution: Pastor Antoni Bokun became the third person to receive a prison sentence for religious activity in post-Soviet Belarus. In response to Bokun’s second arrest, the imminent deportation of a Polish Pentecostal and other harassment of religious communities, 7,000 Christians attended a religious freedom prayer service on June 3, 2007. Apparently due to heightened state sensitivity towards unauthorized gatherings during the March 2006 presidential election period, Reformed Baptist pastor Georgi Vyazovsky and religious freedom lawyer Sergei Shavtsov were given 10-day sentences for organizing unsanctioned religious events. A repressive religious law, in effect since 2002, bans all unregistered religious activity, communities with fewer than 20 members and any religious activity in private homes (apart from occasional, small-scale meetings). All religious literature is subject to censorship.

 2008/5/23 0:41









 Re: WORLD SITUATION FOR CHRISTIANS

Bhutan

Bhutan was isolated from the outside world until the communist takeover of China in 1949. Its isolationist policies further reinforce the hold of Tantric Buddhism. King Jigme Singye Wangchuck abdicated his throne in December 2006, handing the reign of the Buddhist kingdom to his 26-year-old son, Crown Prince Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck. Democratic elections of a new National Assembly are scheduled for 2008.

Religion: Buddhist 72.04%, Hindu 23%, Christian 0.46%.

Ideological Influence: Buddhism/Hinduism

Head of State: King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck

Persecution: All public worship and evangelism by non-Buddhists is illegal in Bhutan. When Bhutanese are discovered to have converted to Christianity, they are denied government benefits—including education and employment. They face subtle forms of discrimination. In 2007, a Christian who contracted a serious disease while a government medical worker was denied medical treatment.

 2008/5/23 0:43









 Re: WORLD SITUATION FOR CHRISTIANS

Brunei

Brunei is one of the richest states in Asia. Oil is the sole source of wealth, but its reserves are predicted to be used up by the year 2020. It has been ruled by the same family for more than six centuries.

Religion: Muslim 64.39%, Christian 11.25%

Ideological Influence: Islam

Head of State: Sultan and Prime Minister Sir Hassanal Bolkiah

Persecution: Constitutional guarantees allowing free practice of religion are steadily eroding. Christian leaders were expelled in 1991. The following year Christian literature was banned, and the celebration of Christmas outlawed. Conversion to Christianity is restricted, since it is illegal to evangelize Muslims. Muslims want a “pure” Islamic state by 2020. There are three registered churches, but many applications for registration are ignored; therefore, believers must meet secretly.

 2008/5/23 0:44









 Re: WORLD SITUATION FOR CHRISTIANS

Chiapas

Chiapas (Mexico) is a Southern state of Mexico where Christians are persecuted, particularly in smaller communities.

Religion: Statistics unavailable for this region

Ideological Influence: Mixture of pagan, revolutionary and liberation theology

Head of State: President Felipe Calderon

Persecution: In San Juan Chamula, seven evangelical pastors were arrested during a church dedication in July 2007. They were charged with holding an unauthorized service. The traditionalist Catholics then destroyed the church. Earlier, a mob in the same town lynched a 20-year-old evangelical. The man was tortured. His hands were tied then he was hung.

 2008/5/23 0:46









 Re: WORLD SITUATION FOR CHRISTIANS

China

China was declared the People’s Republic of China in 1949 by Chairman Mao Zedong, who quickly sought to purge society of anything that would point to religion. In recent years, living standards have improved in urban areas while little has changed in the coutryside, promoting discontent. Political controls remain tight. Rural areas have not seen any economic prosperity; a lot remains unchanged, promoting discontent. The human rights record in China is one of the worst in the world. Its system of “re-education through labor” detains hundreds of thousands each year in work camps without even a court hearing.

Religion: Non-Religious/Other 49.58%, Chinese 28.50%, Christian 7.25%

Ideological Influence: Communism

Head of State: Hu Jintao

Persecution: The year 2007 marks the 200th year of Protestant mission work in China. Again in 2007, church property and Bibles were confiscated. Christians were harassed, questioned, arrested and imprisoned. More Christians are in prison or under detention in China than in any other country. The house church movement (unregistered churches), which comprises approximately 90 percent of China’s Christians, endures unimaginable persecution, yet stands on its commitment to preach the gospel, no matter the cost. A major crackdown against unregistered church groups continued in 2007. Beijing house church activist Hua Huiqi was released after serving six months imprisonment, while many other house church leaders remain in detention. Christians in prison are routinely beaten and abused.

 2008/5/23 0:47









 Re: WORLD SITUATION FOR CHRISTIANS

Colombia

Colombia, especially in the east, is plagued by Marxist guerrilla groups, which are known for assassinations and kidnappings. Colombia is considered one of the world’s most violent countries.

Religion: Christian 95.45%, Non-Religious 2.72%

Ideological Influence: Marxist terrorism

Head of State: President Alvaro Uribe Velez

Persecution: In the last five years, the Marxist guerrilla group FARC (Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia) has killed more than 300 evangelicals and displaced hundreds more. Guerrillas persecute Catholics and Protestants, seeing Christians as a threat to new recruitment. Their violent acts are funded by illegal drugs. In July 2007, FARC soldiers pulled two pastors from their homes and shot them in the region of Huila. Ongoing death threats against the pastors’ widows forced them into hiding. Despite the fear and intimidation, the church is growing. Aggressive evangelistic outreaches have resulted in an increase in churches.


 2008/5/23 0:49





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