International Day of Religious Freedom
Freedom of religion is a fundamental human right. Sadly, this fundamental freedom is increasingly deteriorating with Christianity being the most persecuted religion in the world. In the face of growing pressure from governmental restrictions and from harassment from communities, Christians are a key target. The mandate of Open Doors is to work with Christian communities around the world, to strengthen and provide hope where most needed.
In Canada, freedom of religion is a constitutionally protected right, which allows for freedom to assemble and worship without limitation. However, for people in many countries around the world, this fundamental freedom is being overlooked. More than 215 million Christians around the world are persecuted because of their faith. The Open Doors World Watch List shows the 50 countries where Christians face the most extreme persecution.
In a report released by The Pew Research Centre in June this year, religious freedom in 198 countries was analyzed and its findings revealed that religious antagonism saw its biggest surge in over a decade in 2016. Those following the Christian faith were ranked among some of the top victims of political restrictions and social hostility.
World Watch Monitor mentioned in a recent article where UN rapporteurs said, “Religious freedom is key to ensuring other human rights,” at an event at the UN headquarters in New York on October 22nd.
Open Doors researchers who compile the annual World Watch List mention that a large majority of Christians living in countries ranked on the 2018 World Watch List experience a ‘high’ level of persecution or worse. The majority of these are victims of non-violent persecution. In some ways, this is far more dangerous because it pervades every aspect of life with the goal of crushing out the Christian faith wherever it is found.
As we work to provide persecuted Christians with hope – be it through the provision of Bibles, Christian materials, training, livelihood skills, advocacy, and many other ways – our aim and purpose is to assure Christians that they know they are not forgotten and that they can stand strong to be salt and light in the places God has established them.
This important work to support the persecuted church cannot be done without the help of supporters like you. So, help us to continue to do this very important work as we remember our brothers and sisters on this day of International freedom of religion. May a government such as ours make it a priority to stand up and be a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves.