Nigeria Ranks 14th on Open Doors USA’s World Watch List;
Believers in Jesus Christ Are Being Murdered for Their Faith
WASHINGTON—Nigeria is ranked No. 14 in the world for Christian persecution, and the attacks, violence and killing of Christians continues unabated, threatening the stability of Africa’s most populous country.
The Save the Persecuted Christians (STPC) Coalition, which advocates on behalf of the 215 million persecuted Christians around the globe, is working diligently to urge the Trump administration to appoint a special envoy to the Nigeria/Lake Chad region of Africa to help protect Christians who are being murdered, kidnapped and attacked in what many are calling “pure genocide.”
Much of the Christian persecution in Nigeria is the result of radical Islamic teaching and activity, reports Open Doors, which tracks Christian persecution worldwide. Islam is the dominant religion in the north of the country, while Christianity is dominant in the south. Both Muslims and Christians live in an area called the Middle Belt, which is often plagued with violence that is sometimes misleadingly characterized as “clashes between farmers and herdsmen.” In fact, radical groups, such as Boko Haram and Muslim Fulani militia, heavily persecute believers, and criminal groups are also engaged in human and drug trafficking. Corruption has made the government ill-equipped, or unwilling, to protect Christians from violence.
To help with the appointment of the envoy, the Coalition is urging Christians worldwide to join the appeal for President Donald Trump to appoint the special envoy as soon as possible. Those concerned can send a letter directly to the president and other Washington, D.C., influencers at the STPC Coalition website. View and send the letter by clicking here.
“The ongoing and intensifying slaughter of Christians and others in Nigeria is intolerable,” the letter begins. “I urge you to designate immediately a special envoy for Nigeria and the Lake Chad Region to coordinate and implement an effective U.S. government response to this crisis. As you know, all of Nigeria’s Christians—who make up roughly half of the country’s population of 200 million, but most especially those in the northern and central regions of the country—are under threat. In recent years, entire Christian villages have been wiped out by jihadists of Boko Haram and the Fulani.”
Dede Laugesen, executive director of the Save the Persecuted Christians Coalition, said advocates know the Trump administration has a heart for persecuted Christians, but will be vocal in urging citizens and faith leaders to petition our nation’s leadership to take a practical and necessary step to help those being brutally oppressed and even murdered en masse in Nigeria.
“Mr. President,” Laugesen said, “on behalf of Christians and people of good will everywhere, please designate at once a special envoy to coordinate and redouble U.S. government interagency action before the violent persecution of millions of Nigerian Christians and terrorism spread like a fatal cancer throughout that country, further destabilizing neighboring areas in the Lake Chad region and prompting unsustainable numbers of refugees to flee throughout the world.”
At a Dec. 19 press conference hosted at the U.S. Capitol by the Coalition and Rep. Ron Estes of Kansas, Anglican Archbishop Benjamin Kwashi from Jos remarked that the strategic position of Nigeria in Africa needs the special attention of a special envoy “whose heart and voice will carry the weight necessary to help Nigeria stop the killings.”
The Archbishop also asked the media to stop characterizing the slaughter of entire villages of poor, mostly Christian, farmers as a “clash” between farmers and herdsmen saying, “It is that narrative that stops the international community from doing anything. It is not a clash. It is a systematic and intentional extermination.”
Full remarks of the Archbishop and that of the Honorable Frank R. Wolf, along with other experts, can be viewed here. Wolf and Ambassador Tony P. Hall also penned a Jan. 3 op-ed for The Christian Post on the need for the special envoy to Nigeria.
The Save the Persecuted Christians Coalition seeks to bring awareness about Christians in Nigeria who are targeted for genocide through the “The People of the Cross” exhibit, a series of vertical traveling banners that details Christian persecution in various countries around the world. The exhibit’s panel on Nigeria reports the shocking fact that 6,000 Christians, mostly women, children and the elderly, were murdered in the first half of 2018 alone.
“Human rights groups describe Muslim Fulani and Boko Haram jihadi attacks as ‘war by Islam to eliminate Christianity,’” the Nigeria panel reads. “Unhindered by Nigeria’s leaders, who are Islamists, these attacks threaten to cleanse Nigeria of Christians.”
Banners also feature images, facts and quotes from recent news stories about the persecution of Christians in multiple countries, such as North Korea, where Christians are tortured or worse; Syria, where Christian girls and women have been sold into sex slavery; East Africa, where terrorists are exterminating Christians with genocidal intent; and China, where Communists are increasingly hostile to people of faith and churches and shrines are being demolished.
Since the debut of the exhibit as a side event to the U.S. Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom in July, the banners have been touring the United States and are available for display in many states. Learn more about the exhibit here.
The STPC Coalition strives to disseminate actionable information about other ways in which Americans can help Christians worldwide who are being persecuted for their faith in Christ. Especially in light of immense global oppression, raising awareness about Christian persecution is crucial, as violence toward and imprisonment of Christians occurs so routinely it rarely makes the news.
For example, according to Open Doors, 255 Christians are killed worldwide every month. 104 Christians are abducted. 180 Christian women are raped, sexually assaulted or forced into marriage. 160 Christians are detained or imprisoned without trial. And 66 churches are attacked. Every month.
With such staggering statistics, and the knowledge that most of these crimes are not covered in the media, the STPC Coalition developed a dedicated news aggregator—www.ChristianPersecutionNews.com—to capture current instances of persecution that do make the news and to provide readers an easy way to share these heartbreaking stories with others.
One of the simple and economical ways Americans can render support is by encouraging their pastors and faith leaders to visit www.SavethePersecutedChristians.org and to order a free banner to display in front of their houses of worship. These simple banners feature a graphic “Save Us” plea with a cross and the coalition’s website where Americans can learn about the global persecution of Christians and find out more about what they can do to help stop it.
With so much of the world’s population attacked, imprisoned or exiled for their beliefs—such as Christians in Nigeria—the need for the sort of movement the STPC Coalition is working to foster has never been greater. Its efforts are modeled after a campaign that helped free another population suffering from heavy persecution, Soviet Jews, by holding its persecutors in the Kremlin accountable and imposing real costs for its repression of people of faith. The Coalition’s movement in our time aims to provide American policymakers with the popular support they need to effect real change worldwide and alleviate the suffering of those persecuted simply because they follow Jesus Christ.