A group of Christian Adara farmers gather at the entrance of a church after the Sunday’s service at Ecwa Church, Kajuru, Kaduna State, Nigeria, on April 14, 2019. The ongoing strife between Muslim herders and Christian farmers, which claimed nearly 2,000 lives in 2018 and displaced hundreds of thousands of others, is a divisive issue for Nigeria and some other countries in West Africa. | LUIS TATO/AFP via Getty Images
In the face of growing global apathy, the suffering of our brothers and sisters in Christ continues to be a tragic reality in Nigeria. As the Muslim Fulani herdsmen and Boko Haram terrorists rampage across the country, Christians find themselves caught in the crossfire, bearing the brunt of a deadly campaign of violence and persecution.
The statistics are staggering: According to some reports, at least 4,000 Christians were killed in Nigeria in 2021 alone. This number, which includes both targeted attacks and collateral damage, represents a significant increase from the previous year and paints a grim picture of the ongoing persecution faced by believers in the region.
- “Over the past 14 years at least 52,250 Nigerian Christians have been brutally murdered at the hands of Islamist militants, more than 30,000 of whom during the eight-year presidency of former Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, often criticized during his tenure for not doing enough to combat growing insecurity in the country.”
- “In the same period 18,000 Christian churches and 2,200 Christian schools were set ablaze.”
- “About 5 million Christians have been displaced and forced into Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps within Nigeria and refugee camps at regional and sub-regional borders.”
The Fulani herdsmen, driven by their hatred for Christians, have been responsible for most of these attacks, often targeting Christian villages and communities. Their tactics range from arson and looting to mass kidnappings and forced conversions to Islam. Meanwhile, Boko Haram, an Islamic terrorist group, continues to wreak havoc in the northeastern part of the country, with a particular focus on targeting Christian communities.
Despite the severity of the situation, the international community has been slow to respond, with many governments and organizations turning a blind eye to the plight of Nigerian Christians. Even within the country itself, there is a concerning lack of awareness and concern for the suffering of these communities.
Writing on X (formerly Twitter) author Nancy Pearcey asked, “Why is the Biden administration turning a blind eye to persecution of Christians?” She goes to quote from an article by Family Research Council’s Washington Stand, “Despite 52,000 Deaths, Biden’s State Dept. Leaves Nigeria Off Religious Freedom Watch List for 3rd Year,” that notes:
“For the third consecutive year, the Biden administration’s Department of State has left Nigeria off of its list of ‘Countries of Particular Concern,’ a list that catalogues the countries around the world that have perpetrated or tolerated “particularly severe violations of religious freedom.” The move comes despite the fact that Nigeria leads the world in the number of Christians that have been killed for publicly practicing their faith.”
While countless atrocities occur around the world at any given time, the plight of Christians in Nigeria is one of the worst cases of religious-based persecution happening right now. Again, as Washington Stand explains, “Since 2009, when the Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram began its campaign of violence, approximately 52,250 Nigerians have been murdered for their Christian faith, far and away the largest number of Christians killed in any country in the world.”
Even if the progressive global community refuses to stand with Nigerian Christians, we must. As Christians, we must bring attention to those in Nigeria who are suffering and being slaughtered simply because they are Christians. We must pray for their safety and well-being, and call on our government to take action to address this crisis. We must not be silent in the face of such atrocities but rather raise our voices in defense of the innocent and oppressed. In the words of the Apostle Paul, we are called to “bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).
Let us heed this call, remembering that our brothers and sisters in Nigeria are not forgotten but are precious in the sight of our Heavenly Father. May we be ever vigilant in our efforts to bring light into the darkness, and may God grant comfort and strength to those who suffer for His name.
Originally published at the Standing for Freedom Center.
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William Wolfe is a visiting fellow with the Center for Renewing America. He served as a senior official in the Trump administration, both as a deputy assistant secretary of defense at the Pentagon and a director of legislative affairs at the State Department. Prior to his service in the administration, Wolfe worked for Heritage Action for America, and as a congressional staffer for three different members of Congress, including the former Rep. Dave Brat. He has a B.A. in history from Covenant College, and is finishing his Masters of Divinity at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Follow William on Twitter at @William_E_Wolfe