Are Christian women the most persecuted religious group?

Photo credit: Elevation Church (@elevationchurch) via Instagram
Photo credit: Elevation Church (@elevationchurch) via Instagram

Recent studies suggest that not only are Christian women the most religious group in the world, but they are also persecuted more than anyone else for their faith.

A recent survey conducted by Pew Research Center found that women in general are more religious than men. The study found that 83.4 percent of women worldwide identified with a religion, while 80 percent of men follow a certain faith. The difference equals to about 97 million people.

Women were also found to make up the majority of Christians in the world, with 33.7 percent of women being followers of Christ.

Additionally, it was discovered that women were more committed to their religion than the 22.9 percent of men worldwide who are Christian. This was determined by how much an individual prays, attends church, and holds religion to be of high importance. Per the Pew Research Center:

In the 54 countries where data were collected on Christians’ daily prayer habits, Christian women report praying daily more frequently than Christian men by an overall average gap of 10 percentage points. In 29 of those countries, more women than men reported praying daily by margins of 10 percentage points or more, ranging upward to 25 points in Greece. Similarly, Christian women are more likely than Christian men to say religion is ‘very important’ to them by an overall average of 7 percentage points across 54 countries. In 15 of those countries, more women than men say this by margins ranging from 10 percentage points in Peru, Chile and the United States to 23 points in South Korea. When it comes to attendance at worship services, Christian women are, on average, 7 percentage points more likely than Christian men to report attending services weekly across 53 countries with data on Christian attendance patterns.

According to a number of Christian groups, women of the faith are also targets of persecution more often than anyone else. An international conference was held last month that discussed bringing an end to the increasing hostility toward Christian women.

“Increasing numbers of women face a double blow today — violent attacks against them because of their Christian faith, and because they are women,” said Kate Ward, an organizer of the conference, which was sponsored by Release International, Open Doors, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, and related groups.

A study from Open Doors found earlier this year that violence against Christians reached an all-time high in 2015, with more than 7,000 killed due to their faith. Christianity Today pointed out that women are especially vulnerable to such attacks, which is evident from the cases of Islamic extremists targeting women in places like Nigeria, Syria, Pakistan, and other areas where Islam is prevalent. These women face rape, being told how to dress, forced marriages, kidnapping, and trafficking.

“Women are vulnerable due to biological jihad, in which ISIS and related groups are determined to impregnate infidel women to promote their cause, which is to make the whole world an Islamic State,” Emma Dipper, the Release International ministry’s women program manager, told CT.

In an attempt to bring awareness to the issue of persecution against Christians, several churches celebrated “Stand With the Persecuted” this Sunday, April 17. The day of observation is sponsored by the Family Research Council, Open Doors, the Institute on Religion and Democracy, and other groups.

“While steps must be taken to stop future atrocities from occurring, provide aid to those whose lives have been upended, and to plan for their future, we must also recognize and nurture the solidarity that we as American Christians share with our brothers and sisters overseas,” wrote Ken Blackwell, former US ambassador to the UN Human Rights Commission, and Thomas Farr, director of the Religious Liberty Project at Georgetown University, in an article explaining the purpose of Stand With the Persecuted. “To advocate for them we must love them. And to love them we must know them.”

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