'70 million Christians' martyred for their faith since Jesus walked the earth
A new article series in Christian History magazine says a "global war" is being waged against Christians.
The reports are in the latest edition of the quarterly publication and co-authored by members of Voice of the Martyrs USA.
Although they particularly examine the persecution of Christians in the last 300 years, they also contains figures going back through Christian history.
The data, attributed to the late researcher David B Barrett, puts the number of Christians martyred since the time of Jesus at 70 million.
It puts the number of Christians systematically exterminated in Nazi Germany at a million, while the number of Orthodox Christians and others murdered in Russia between 1917 and 1950 at 15 million.
In China, at least 200,000 Christians and foreigners were killed in the Boxer Rebellion of 1898 to 1900. Another 700,000 were killed in communist China between 1950 and 1980.
The number of Catholics killed in Mexico from the late 1800s to 1930 is estimated at 107,000, while 300,000 Christians are believed to have been killed under Idi Amin in Uganda between 1971 and 1979.
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Estimates of the number of Christians killed annually for their faith today differ massively. Todd Johnson, of the Center for the Study of Global Christianity, puts the number of Christians martyred annually at 100,000. By stark contrast, Christof Saure, of the International Institute for Religious Freedom, puts the figure far lower at 8,000 to 9,000 a year.
But that's still too many for Michael Austin, a Christian commentator and contributor to the report.
"Is there a global war on Christians?" he says. "That question is asked in this issue and judging from the number of deaths and torture in recent years, my conclusion is, yes – and the casualties are staggering.
"Sadly, the names of Christ's heroes and their inspired stories go largely unspoken today and their cause goes unreported in the popular press."
Voice of the Martyrs's Rou Stults adds that there is not enough awareness in the Western Church: "Many Christians in the West either deny or are ignorant of it, but persecution is part of present reality."
Read more about modern persecution at https://www.christianhistoryinstitute.org/