(By Dr. Mark Rutland) The age of martyrs is now. It is misguided to believe that the worst persecution of Christians took place in the ancient Roman Empire. We are moved by the harrowing accounts of Christians being thrown to lions in the Colosseum, though the numbers may actually be somewhat inflated. The brutality of the first-century Roman persecution was real and those early martyrs should be honored, but in all of human history, the most dangerous time to be a Christian is actually right now.
A staggering 90,000 Christians were martyred in 2016 alone, according to Dr. Massimo Introvigne, director of the Center for Studies on New Religions (CESNUR). Approximately 600 million are not entirely free to worship. The CESNUR study goes on to explain that the major source of persecution has shifted. In the not-too-distant past, the state perpetrators of persecution were the atheistic communist nations, such as those in the former Soviet Union. At one point, the government of Albania falsely boasted that they had eradicated Christianity in that country. When communism fell, they discovered they were wrong. MORE