Dying for Christ in unheard of here in Australia. We live in a part of the world where Christianity rarely makes the news unless it is to be mocked or defamed. Otherwise, the media is strangely silent about modern Christian martyrdom.
Three things distinguish anti-Christian persecution and discrimination around the world. It’s ugly, it’s growing and the mass media generally ignore or downplay its gravity.
The secular West has been looking the other way for a very long time. Even the average church-going Christian is not likely to know that 45.5 million of the estimated 70 million Christians who have died for Christ did so in the last century. For this reason, scholars such as Robert Royal, president of the Faith and Reason Institute in Washington, D.C., and author of The Catholic Martyrs of the Twentieth Century, refer to the past century as one of the darkest periods of martyrdom since the birth of Christianity.
Atheistic Communism has been the cause of millions of Christian deaths in the last century.
In China, estimates run as high as 50 million total lives lost, while atheistic Soviet Union claimed another 25 million. While not all of those killed were Christians, it is believed that, because these numbers are so high, this is where the majority of Christian victims can be found in the twentieth century. As the Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky so aptly put it, Communism typically killed as many people in a day as the Inquisition killed in all the centuries of its existence.
Atheism is possibly a greater threat to peace than fanatical Islam. Next time your atheist friends try to convince you of how violent Christianity is just remind them of their own brief demented history.
Rebellions, civil wars, and dictatorships have also taken their toll on Christianity. By the end of Spain’s civil war in 1939, the names of 7,000 martyrs were submitted to the Holy See. In the past fifty years, 300,000 Christians in North Korea have vanished without a trace.
In Rwanda, the press was largely silent about the deaths of 200 priests, sisters, bishops, seminarians, and laymen who gave their lives for refusing to renounce the gospel and accede to the genocide.
Not mentioned in the many reports about the situation in Darfur, Sudan, is the ongoing campaign of terror against Christians by the government of Khartoum. Various relief agencies have reported widespread persecution of Christians who are being raped, tortured, enslaved, or burned alive. Christian Solidarity International reports an estimated 25,000 Christian children have been sold into slavery.