Trend Analysis Reports
Christian Martyrs - Not Just Ancient History
Scholars have admitted in a respected academic journal that they are surprised by the magnitude of a new accounting of Christian who have suffered death for their faith during the 20 th century. "Nothing in mainstream scholarship prepares one for such a colossal reckoning of human suffering," writes Michael J. McClymond, associate professor of theology at St. Louis University, about David Barrett’s statistics in the revised edition of the World Christian Encyclopedia published by Oxford University Press.
The total number of Christian martyrs is reported at 45 million during the 20 th century. The definition: "Believers in Christ who lost their lives prematurely, in situations of witness, as a result of human hostility."
This includes Christian affiliated with the known denominations and unaffiliated Christians, and even crypto-Christians who may be living in settings where they feel they must keep their profession of Christ secret. Included among the 45 million are entire villages of Armenian Christians who were lined up in 1915 and given the choice, "Christ or Muhammad?" and immediately shot if they chose Christ. "In 1977 the same choice was offered to [Anglican] Archbishop Janani Luwun of Uganda, who was shot through the mouth by the national leader himself, Idi Amin." Many others are included from communist China and the former Soviet Union. "The Salvadoran [Catholic] Archbishop Oscar Romero, gunned down in 1980 while celebrating the Eucharist, is counted as a Christian martyr because his advocacy on behalf of the poor–the proximate cause of his death–was inseparable from his ministry and witness as a churchman." Of course, a number of Seventh-day Adventists are included in the count who died refusing to work on the Sabbath or to confess political wrong-doing for simple acts of evangelism and similar reasons.
Trend Analysis Report (2003) - Source: Journal of the American Academy of Religion, December 2002