The rising risk of martyrdom, 2021

A new report of a martyr has been published: “ISIS executes Christian businessman kidnapped in Egypt.”

After the fall of the Soviet Union, there was a period of time where the number of estimated martyrs per year had fallen: from its height of 3.7m per decade in the 1970s to about 900,000 per decade now (see Status of Global Mission 2021). However, this decline appears to have stabilized and begun to grow again; CSGC estimates the rate will rise to 1 million per decade by 2050.

During the 2000s and 2010s, my own analysis was that martyrdom was falling in favor of regulation—that killing people was messy for governments because of the public relations issues. Now, however, with the rise of local civil unrest, that trend seems to have been reversed—Christians are being killed in local conflicts with religious flavors.

In addition, I note with some dismay that there has been a rise in full-on, localized wars (Ethiopia, Myanmar, Yemen, Libya, and so on), and some percentage of those being killed are Christians in situations of witness. The risks to believers continue to rise during this period.