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A persecuted Church and its heroes

Protesters hold up placards while demanding the release of Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian woman who has been sentenced to death for blasphemy, at a rally in Lahore last November. CNS photo/Mohsin Raza, Reuters

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A recent survey has indicated something that should lift the hearts of Christians everywhere, namely, that the fastest growing religion on the planet is Christianity. This explosive growth is on particularly clear display in Africa and Asia, where churches and seminaries can't be built fast enough to accommodate the need. It is especially important that we in the West become cognizant of this state of affairs, for with the rise of secularism and the fall-off in church attendance in Europe, Canada, Australia, and America, we can far too easily assume that Christianity is in a state of permanent decline. Au contraire, in point of fact.

But other studies carry the dark truth that the fastest-growing religion in the world is also the most persecuted. Again, this might surprise many in the post-September 11th West, who presume that Islam is the religion most in danger and hence most in need of special protection. But all over the world, and particularly in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, Christians are, by far, the most threatened religious group. Indeed, Vatican research shows that 75 percent of those killed around the world for religious reasons are Christians.

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