Woman holds hands up in prayer 

People around the world will observe the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church on Sunday, Nov. 5. This is a day when the worldwide body of Christ comes together to pray for those among us who are suffering persecution. 

According to Under Caesar’s Sword: Christian Responses to Persecution, religious persecution is “any unjust action of varying levels of hostility directed to religious believers through systematic oppression or through irregular harassment or discrimination resulting in various levels of harm as it is considered from the victim’s perspective, each action having religion as its primary motivator.” [emphasis added] The report goes on to say the modes of persecution include, “arbitrary detention, coercive and unjust interrogation, forced labor, imprisonment, beating, torture, disappearance, forced flight from homes, enslavement, rape, murder, unjust execution,” and more.

In other words, religious persecution is an unjust action targeting religious people because of their religion, often resulting in severe and life-threatening harm.

That describes the experience of many religious minorities around the world, including Christians. The U.S. Department of State reports that Christians face persecution in over 60 countries. Approximately 7,100 Christians were killed in 2015 as a result of religious persecution. That’s more than a 300 percent increase from 2013. 

In the midst of this situation, the most common request made by persecuted Christians is for prayer. Please pray for siblings in Christ who are facing persecution.

Learn More

There are diverse contexts in which Christians are persecuted. Explore resources on the persecution of Christians such as the International Day of Prayer resources from Open Doors USA and Under Caesar’s Sword: Christian Responses to Persecution project. This project includes a report, documentary, and interactive findings from the University of Notre Dame and the Religious Freedom Institute at Georgetown University.

Find out more about The United Methodist Church says on religious freedom on our religious freedom web page or download our Religious Freedom Faith and Facts card.