New Report Shows Staggering Rise in Christian Persecution in the United States and the Western World

A new report from Family Research Council’s Center for Religious Liberty reveals a staggering rise in the rate of religious persecution against Christians in the United States and the Western world.

The Center for Religious Liberty recorded 168 counts of anti-Christian hatred or discrimination from January 2020 to December 2023, including 33 incidents last year, in the 2024 edition of “Free to Believe? The Intensifying Intolerance Toward Christians in The West.”

This report seeks to “provide a better understanding of religious freedom violations perpetrated by Western governments against Christian individuals, organizations and churches,” Family Research Council (FRC) stated.

The numbers the report retrieved are unprecedented.

According to FRC’s Center for Religious Liberty, the report’s results were obtained by “analyzing open-source documents, reports and media outlets from 34 countries.”

Examples of government-sanctioned acts of hostility toward Western Christians detailed in the report include being arrested or fined for preaching or praying in public spaces, being punished for voicing biblically informed beliefs in the public square, and pastors facing fines or imprisonment for failing to abide by COVID-19 restrictions, which were oftentimes harsher toward churches than toward secular institutions and businesses.

The report cited 2020 and 2021, with 61 and 49 acts of hostility toward Western Christians, respectively, as years with the most incidents of persecution against Christians. These years weren’t more hostile than 2023 because the world has since become kinder; the majority of 2020 and 2021’s incidents of persecution were related to COVID-19 lockdown violations.

Public and even private expression of biblical worldviews are increasingly met with intolerance, the report notes.  Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council

FRC resident and former chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), Tony Perkins, issued the following statement regarding the new report.

“During my time as chair and commissioner of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, I saw a marked rise in violations of religious freedom against Christians. This occurred not only in longstanding persecution hotspots such as China, Pakistan, and India but also across the West,” Perkins said.

“It is shocking to see Western countries, the same ones we think of as free and open societies, take authoritarian measures against Christians simply trying to live out their faith. Hostility toward Bible-believing Christians is clearly and steadily rising in the West. The report details numerous infringements, including those related to restrictions on speech and public prayer. These abuses are alarming for anyone who understands that the historic understanding of religious freedom is the ability to live your life according to your faith in every aspect of your life.”

Arielle Del Turco, who authored the report and is the director of FRC’s Center for Religious Liberty, also released a statement.

“These stories are alarming and show the diverse ways Western governments, which ought to be the standard bearers for upholding freedom of religion and expression, are undermining the fundamental human right to religious freedom,” Del Turco said.

“This report serves as a warning about how basic freedoms can erode even in Western democracies. Religious freedom must be protected at home so that we may also defend religious freedom across the globe and stand up for the persecuted.”

The report, which is not an exhaustive list of all counts of aggression toward Christians, but does illustrate a concerning trend, made an acute observation about how the modern Christian is portrayed.

“As the mainstream culture moves further and further away from a Christian worldview, Christian beliefs that contradict progressive secular values are increasingly denounced by the culture and wrongly portrayed as being hateful or bigoted,” the report stated.

In a recent article, The Washington Stand listed a few of the report’s 2023 incidents of hostility against Christians in the U.S., including the following:

  • An Ohio pastor being fined for allowing homeless to sleep in his church;
  • A Texas church being charged excessive fees by a county utility company and seeing those fees doubled after the church noted its tax-exempt status;
  • The Oklahoma attorney general suing a virtual school board for approving a publicly-funded Catholic charter school;
  • An Oregon couple being denied a foster care license due to their biblical views on sex and gender;
  • A California library canceling a Moms for Liberty event when a speaker expressed biblical views on gender and biology;
  • A Georgia church being threatened with fines for hosting a car show as a form of community outreach;
  • A Christian school in Colorado being denied a religious exemption from a pro-LGBT state discrimination law;
  • An Oregon church being threatened with fines for providing free meals to the homeless;
  • A school counselor in Indiana being fired for speaking out against her school district’s preferred pronoun policy;
  • A Vermont Christian school being barred from a state tuition program for upholding biblical values on sex and gender;
  • A Christian high school coach (also in Vermont) being fired for saying that there’s a biological difference between men and women;
  • An Arizona elementary school district ending a teaching partnership with Arizona Christian University;
  • A California teacher being fired for refusing to comply with a policy hiding students’ gender transitions from parents; and
  • A Colorado cake shop owner being sued for refusing to make cakes celebrating gender transitions, Satanism, or marijuana use.

The report, which analyzed 34 countries, detailed counts of hostility toward Christians all over the Western world, including acts in the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Norwegian, Spain and Sweden. A complete rejection of Christianity is a global phenomenon; it is the plague of the modern world.

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