Christian martyrs double in 2013

Hot Air readers ranked the global persecution of Christians as the second-most important under-reported story of 2013, and new data from Open Doors bolsters that case. CBS notes the report of deaths from the persecution of Christians have doubled over 2012, mainly because of the war in Syria. However, another country still takes top honors in that regard:

Reported cases of Christians killed for their faith around the world doubled in 2013 from the year before, with Syria accounting for more than the whole global total in 2012, according to an annual survey.

Open Doors, a non-denominational group supporting persecuted Christians worldwide, said on Wednesday it had documented 2,123 “martyr” killings, compared with 1,201 in 2012. There were 1,213 such deaths in Syria alone last year, it said.

“This is a very minimal count based on what has been reported in the media and we can confirm,” said Frans Veerman, head of research for Open Doors. Estimates by other Christian groups put the annual figure as high as 8,000.

The Open Doors report placed North Korea at the top of its list of 50 most dangerous countries for Christians, a position it has held since the annual survey began 12 years ago. Somalia, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan were the next four in line.

Open Doors considers Islamist extremism as “the worst persecutor of the worldwide church,” but it’s not the only one, as North Korea’s position indicates. This is particularly noteworthy today, because Pyongyang refuses to release an American who ran an approved tour company, apparently got too free with his faith for the Stalinist regime. Kenneth Bae hasn’t even been publicly charged, but he’s not going anywhere either, despite mounting health issues.

Of course, one American might have helped, but he was too busy singing to his “best friend” on his birthday. Bae’s family was outraged:

On Wednesday, Bae’s family accused Rodman of “playing games” with Bae’s life. Relatives and U.S. officials have insisted Bae committed no crime.

“There is no diplomacy, only games, and at my brother’s expense,” Bae’s sister, Terri Chung, said Wednesday in a prepared statement. …

Bae’s relatives say Rodman, who once urged Kim in a tweet to “do me a solid and cut Kenneth Bae loose,”could have helped put pressure on the North Korean government to release him.

Instead, she said he made the situation worse in his Tuesday CNN interview by intimating that Bae was guilty.

“Do you understand what he did in this country?” Rodman asked Cuomo. “No, no, no, you tell me, you tell me. Why is he held captive here in this country, why?”

Chung said Wednesday she was shocked by his statements.

“Dennis Rodman could do a lot of good by advocating for Kenneth to Kim Jong Un, but instead he has decided to hurl outrageous accusations at my brother, insinuating that Kenneth has done something sinister,” Chung said.

Once again, I’d recommend John Allen’s book The Global War on Christians, released a couple of months ago. In his introduction, Allen argues:

This book is about the most dramatic religion story of the early twenty-first century, yet one that most people in the West have little idea is even happening: the global war on Christians. We’re not talking about a metaphorical “war on religion” in Europe and the United States, fought on symbolic terrain such as whether it’s okay to erect a nativity scene on the courthouse steps, but a rising tide of legal oppression, social harassment, and direct physical violence, with Christians as its leading victims.

However counterintuitive it may seem in light of popular stereotypes of Christianity as a powerful and sometimes oppressive social force, Christians today indisputably are the most persecuted religious body on the planet, and too often their new martyrs suffer in silence.

The martyrs are multiplying. And while that happens, we have clueless Americans serenading the persecutors.