Recently, right-wing mouthpiece, Paul Joseph Watson, passed on the following quote on Twitter from a Breitbart article:
“Christians are by far the most persecuted religious group in the world, with some 90,000 Christians killed for their faith in 2016 alone, while as many as 600 million were prevented from practising their faith.”
This seemed a high number of deaths, I followed the paper-trail (well, pixel-trail) through the Breitbart article and back to the original research by the US-based Center for the Study of Global Christianity (CSGC) at Gordon-Conwell Seminary.
This organisation’s methodology is freely available and it doesn’t take long to figure out the problem with their statistical analysis. They’ve decided to count every Christian killed for whatever reason by another human being as a “Christian martyr” (their term).
So if a Christian Rwandan Hutu kills a Christian Rwandan Tutsi, they go into the statistics. If a Christian is killed for whatever reason in the wars in the Democratic Republic of the Congo they too count. Using the same methodology every Christian killed in World War Two would have been a “Christian martyr”.
I think this is ridiculous and feel any fair-minded person would agree. The Christian-based Open Doors organisation certainly do. Their director of research recently told the BBC the following: there was “a lot of exaggeration” of figures relating to the persecution of Christians, and his team’s research showed that the number of Christians known to have been killed “for faith-related reasons” between 1 November 2015 and 31 October 2016 was less than two per cent of CSGC’s figure: 1,207.
Obviously every killing of anyone for their faith (or lack of it) is one too many and should be stopped. But the creation and quoting of these false statistics is also wholly wrong. It seems to me it’s a ploy by the Christian right to keep their unquestioning flock frightened and ready for actions that the real figures do not require.