Persecution of Christians

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Persecution of Christians is the religious persecution of Christians as a consequence of professing their faith, both historically and in the current era.

Early Christians were persecuted for their faith, at the hands of both Jews from whose religion Christianity was an offshoot, and the Roman Empire which controlled much of the land early Christianity was distributed across. This continued from the 1st century until the early 4th, when the religion was legalized by Constantine I.

Michael Gaddis writes:

The Christian experience of violence during the pagan persecutions shaped the ideologies and practices that drove further religious conflicts over the course of the fourth and fifth centuries... The formative experience of martyrdom and persecution determined the ways in which later Christians would both use and experience violence under the Christian empire. Discourses of martyrdom and persecution formed the symbolic language through which Christians represented, justified, or denounced the use of violence."[1]

Christian missionaries as well as the neophytes that they converted to Christianity have been the target of persecution, many times to the point of being martyred for their faith. There is also a history of individual Christian denominations suffering persecution at the hands of other Christians under the charge of heresy, particularly during the 16th century Protestant Reformation.

In the 20th century, Christians have been persecuted by radical Muslim and Hindu groups inter alia due to conversion act conducted by Evangelicals, and by (officially) atheistic states such as the USSR and North Korea. Currently (as of 2010), as estimated by Open Doors UK, an estimated 100 million Christians face persecution, particularly in the Muslim world, North Korea and the hands of Hindu extremism and Islamic terrorism in India, with a rising tendency[2]


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