With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Christian persecution rose 30%, forcing Christians in countries like Southeast Asia, Nigeria, and India to fight for both their faith and their survival.
Across the globe, the pandemic disrupted people’s ability to work and earn a living. Many lost their jobs, suffered a period of unemployment, and lost income needed to buy food and support their families. In areas like Southeast Asia, Nigeria, and India, food insecurity became a major problem. Both Christians and non-Christians suffered the effects of the pandemic.
However, when governments started providing relief for those affected, Christian persecution intensified.
Open Doors CEO David Curry said in an article, “Now as the coronavirus ravages the health and livelihoods of all people, Christians and other religious minorities are facing a new punishment: discriminatory distribution of emergency relief and medical care.”
In Southeast Asia, a majority Muslim area, transportation lines were shut down and the only available food supplies were at local mosques. While trying to access food, many recently converted Christians were told that in order to receive supplies they had to convert back to Islam.
An article with Open Doors said, “Already suffering for converting from Islam, these believers are struggling to survive and stand strong in their faith.”
In Nigeria, a majority Muslim and Christian country, many Christians received fewer pandemic relief supplies than Muslims.
“Believers from towns in northern Nigeria’s Kaduna State, including Ungwan Boro, Sabon Tasha, Barnawa and Naraye, report they received six times smaller rations from the state than Muslim families,” said another article from Open Doors.
Already many Nigerian Christians in certain areas live with the real possibility of experiencing violent attacks. The COVID-19 pandemic has not stopped these attacks. In fact, according to Open Doors, “in some areas, extremists are exploiting the opportunity to blame Christians for causing the pandemic.”
In India, a majority Hindu nation, Christians who have converted from Hinduism often experience social boycotting. No one in the community will buy or sell goods to them. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, social boycotting drove Christians to support each other. Christians bought food and water from one another and lived together.
However, with the COVID lockdowns, Christians are isolated from one another. Because of the already existing social boycott, Christians are overlooked in the distribution of government aid. As the community works together to survive, Christians are left to fend for themselves.