Christian group launches first-ever religious violence database tracking global persecution

A database tracking incidents of violent religious persecution worldwide has been launched by Global Christian Relief, an American group monitoring Christian persecution. The Violent Incidents Database stands as the first and only event-based global religious freedom database of its kind.

The VID, accessible to the public, catalogs more than a dozen types of violence, including killings, arrests, abductions, sexual harassment, pressure and forced marriages. It allows searches by country, religion and perpetrator, offering an unprecedented level of verification, the group says.

The perpetrators responsible for persecution include ethnic groups, extended family, government officials, ideological pressure groups, multilateral organizations, civilians, organized crime, political parties, religious leaders, revolutionaries or paramilitary groups, and violent religious groups.

The Databasewhich began recording global reports of violent attacks in 2022, currently tracks more than 6,000 incidents, according to GCR.

“This database helps give voice to the voiceless by recording and sharing details of specific attacks suffered by Christians and other people of faith worldwide,” says GCR CEO David Curry. “Our hope is that this remarkable resource will be used by anyone who advocates and reports on behalf of the persecuted church.”

The Violent Incidents Database research is funded by GCR and conducted by the International Institute for Religious Freedom, a leading think tank in religious freedom.

“We live in a world where the violent persecution of Christians and other religious groups is rampant and on the rise,” says Ronald Boyd-MacMillan, GCR's Head of Global Strategy and Research. “This database not only helps us track the violence, but helps us better understand what persecuted Christians really need from their brothers and sisters around the world.”

The database will be presented at the International Summit on Religious Freedom in Washington, D.C., January 30-31.

It will also contribute to the upcoming GCR Global Religious Freedom Index, a comprehensive tool launching this spring, the group says.

According to Aid to the Church in Need, more than 4.9 billion people live in countries with severe violations of religious freedom.

These 4.9 billion people live in 61 countries where the state of religious freedom, as guaranteed in Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, looks dismal, said an ACN report, titled the World Religious Freedom Report 2023 , which covered the period from January 2021 to December 2022.

“It means that 62% of humanity lives in countries where people are not allowed to practice, express or change their religion,” ACN said. “Perpetrators of religious freedom violations range from armed terrorist groups to authoritarian governments, but the rule continues to be one of impunity for attackers who are rarely, if ever, brought to justice or criticized by the international community.”

Of the 61 countries, 28 were marked in red, indicating “hot countries” where persecution is rampant, while a further 33 were marked in orange, indicating high levels of discrimination.

The GCR's VID aims to record violations of religious freedom, with an emphasis on tracking violence on five continents but does not require exhaustive coverage, according to IIRF, who notes that the data is based on reports published in digital media available on the internet. “Many incidents are never published or do not receive sufficient attention from authorities or the media,” it acknowledges.


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