". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


Christians Are the Most Persecuted People. This Nation Actually Helps Them.

February 14, 2024

Hundreds of millions of Christians suffered religious persecution in 2023, according to a religious liberty watchdog organization, but one European nation is going out of its way to assist “the most persecuted religion in the world.”

One out of every seven Christians worldwide experienced some form of persecution last year, according to the 2024 World Watch List produced by Open Doors — an increase from one in eight in 2021. A whopping 365 million Christians underwent “high levels of persecution and discrimination,” up from 340 million just two years ago. The worst anti-Christian sentiment exploded into violence: 14,766 Christian churches or properties were destroyed, and 4,988 Christians were killed in 2023, the report found.

“We have to just say the facts: Christianity is the most persecuted religion in the world,” said Tristan Azbej, Hungary’s secretary of state for programs to help persecuted Christians at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. “In the world, there are more than 360 million people who suffer discrimination, oppression, threats by terrorist organizations or genocidal attacks because of their faith in Jesus Christ.”

That spurred the government of Hungary to form a government agency to assist the persecuted globally. “There are many charities who are working for them. But the Hungarian government realized that this should not be left only for charities. The international community has to step up, governments have to step up,” Azbej recently told “Washington Watch with Tony Perkins.” “And us, being a thousand-year-old, proud Christian nation who is still courageous enough to say that.”

Azbej’s remarks came as he attended the International Religious Freedom Summit in Washington, D.C. late last month.

Over the last year, levels of anti-Christian persecution spiked in Africa, where 20% of Christians experienced some form of hostility or oppression based on their faith. The number rises to 40% of Christians in Asia. The world’s most anti-Christian government is North Korea, according to the Open Doors report.

Nearly 90% of all Christians killed worldwide lived in Nigeria. Azbej has noted that “jihadist, Islamist tribes” attacked 20 Christian settlements, killing 200 Christians last Christmas. Despite continued violence and murder in the nation of 230 million people, the Biden administration removed Nigeria from its list of the worst offenders of religious liberty — a policy Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-Wis.) has called “anti-Christian.”

Fiona Bruce, a Conservative Party member of the U.K.’s Parliament, introduced the International Freedom of Religion or Belief Bill 2022-23 (Bill 373) last October. The bill would require British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to appoint a Special Envoy for International Freedom of Religion or Belief. That government office would document religious persecution of all faiths globally, work with U.K. civil society groups, and prod British and foreign government officials to promote freedom of religion and conscience rights worldwide. As of this writing, the Private Members bill had its first reading but is now stalled in Parliament.

Four of the worst nations persecuting Christians are in Latin America: Mexico (37), Cuba (22), Nicaragua (30), and Colombia (34). Yet the issue receives little attention from U.S. lawmakers.

Due to the global leadership dearth, “We decided that we will lead by example. Therefore, the Hungarian government established my department, which was the first ever dedicated governmental department for the aid of persecuted Christians in 2016. And right away we started the Hungary Program, which delivers humanitarian aid to those Christians who have been just attacked by terrorist organizations, which delivers aid and financial assistance to rebuild places like the Nineveh Plains in Iraq, where Daesh/ISIS has committed atrocities against Christians,” Azbej told Perkins. His agency also “offers Hungarian scholarships at Hungarian universities for those Christians in Africa and Asia, who are unable or have no chance to go into the higher education system.”

The Hungary Helps humanitarian aid program expanded, thanks to an amendment that took effect at the first of the year.

In the last six years, “I can report to you that we have reached about two million persecuted Christians by extending the solidarity of the Hungarian people towards them,” Azbej told Perkins. “We have run 330 projects for persecuted Christians in more than 50 countries.”

Yet far from receiving the West’s gratitude for filling the need, “When we rebuild the church in the Middle East or in Africa, then I go to a professional diplomatic event in the West, they ask me the cynical question, ‘Why don’t we support something more useful, like hospitals and schools?’” Azbej revealed. “Now, we also support Christian hospitals and schools all around the world. But I can see the ignorance or the cynicism of the question” from Western diplomats, Azbej told Perkins. “The answer to that is that we always ask what is needed. And in many cases, our Christian brothers and sisters would choose their church to be rebuilt first before their homes are rebuilt. This is how important their churches are for them,” he said, “and their faith.”

Azbej’s comments come at a time of political upheaval at home. Hungarian President Katalin Novák and Justice Minister Judit Varga formally tendered their resignations to the nation’s parliament on Monday. Novák sparked a national scandal by pardoning the deputy director of a children’s home who stands accused of covering up child abuse in his facility in Bicske, near Budapest. Varga signed off on the pardon. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán countered that, if anyone harmed one of his grandchildren, “They must be cut in half, they must be cut into pieces.” Parliament must vote to accept Novák’s resignation within 15 days, then elect a new president within 30 days, according to Máté Kocsis, the parliamentary group leader of the ruling Fidesz Party.

Ben Johnson is senior reporter and editor at The Washington Stand.