While it is no secret that the so-called mainstream media habitually fail to report on the international phenomenon of Christian persecution, few are aware that they sometimes actively work to undermine the efforts of those who do expose it.
Consider a new report by the BBC titled “Are there really 100,000 new Christian martyrs every year?” by Ruth Alexander, who asks:
So how widespread is anti-Christian violence?“Credible research has reached the shocking conclusion that every year an estimate of more than 100,000 Christians are killed because of some relation to their faith,” Vatican spokesman Archbishop Silvano Maria Tomasi announced in a radio address to the United Nations Human Rights Council in May.
On the internet, the statistic has taken on a life of its own, popping up all over the place, sometimes with an additional detail—that these 100,000 lives are taken by Muslims.
The number comes originally from the Center for the Study of Global Christianity (CSGC) at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in the US state of Massachusetts, which publishes such a figure each year in its Status of Global Mission (see line 28).
Its researchers started by estimating the number of Christians who died as martyrs between 2000 and 2010—about one million by their reckoning—and divided that number by 10 to get an annual number, 100,000.
But how do they reach that figure of one million?
When you dig down, you see that the majority died in the civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo….
If you were to take away the 90,000 deaths in DR Congo from the CSGC’s figure of 100,000, that would leave 10,000 martyrs per year.
Later, after arguing that, “while violence continues in DR Congo, it’s less extreme today than it was at its height,” Alexander quotes approximately 7,000-8,000 Christians worldwide dying for their faith (the CSGC projects 150,000 dead by 2025).
Regarding the statement—“how do they [CSGC] reach that figure of one million? When you dig down, you see that the majority died in the civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo”—it is unclear where Alexander got this information. She does provide a link to the Center for the Study of Global Christianity’s Status of Global Mission, telling readers to “see line 28,” which indeed confirms the average number of 100,000 Christians martyred per year. However, nowhere in this CSGC report does the word “Congo” appear, prompting one to wonder where Alexander went to “dig down” for information.
If it is true that the number 100,000 is primarily based on the Congo, and that the annual number of martyred Christians around the world is 7,000-8,000, the total number of Christians killed specifically because of their faith would seem to be reduced by a whopping 93%.
Of course, many human rights activists do assert that Christians are specifically targeted in the Congo. Moreover, as Alexander indicates, the CSGC counts only 20% of the millions of Christians killed in the Congo as martyrs, meaning some set of standards or qualifications distinguishing those killed for their faith from those killed in general was relied on. Finally, regarding the all-important question of how many Christians around the world are killed, Alexander herself later quotes another source saying “there is no scientific number at the moment. It has not been researched and all experts in this area are very hesitant to give a figure.”
And this seems to be the real point. Of all the questions and aspects of Christian persecution that objective researchers and reporters can explore and expose, why did the BBC pick the very one that 1) cannot be answered and 2) is ultimately irrelevant—at best academic, at worst cold and callous?…Continue reading