Supporting persecuted Christians in Afghanistan through Open Doors
How many Christians are there in Afghanistan?
It’s very hard to know precisely how many Christians there are in Afghanistan, because they must keep their faith completely secret – but only a small number from a population of about 39 million.
How are Christians persecuted in Afghanistan?
Afghanistan is number one on the Open Doors World Watch List for the first time – persecution has increased since the Taliban took control in August 2021. Even before this year, it was impossible to live openly as a Christian in Afghanistan. Leaving Islam is considered shameful, and Christian converts face dire and violent consequences if their new faith is discovered. Either they have to flee the country or they will be killed. This was true before the Taliban takeover of the country: the situation has become even more dangerous for believers this year. The Taliban will make sure that Islamic rules and customs are implemented and kept. Christian converts do not have any option but to obey them.
If a Christian's new faith is discovered their family, clan or tribe has to save its ‘honour’ by disowning the believer, or even killing them. This is widely considered to be a just reaction. Alternatively, since leaving Islam is considered a sign of insanity, a Christian who has converted from Islam may be forcibly sectioned in a psychiatric hospital.
If a woman converts from Islam to Christianity, and her family do not, she is likely to face house arrest, sexual abuse and rape, violence, forced marriage to a Muslim or even an 'honour' killing. There is very little chance of legal justice for any woman, and women in Afghanistan have very little social or financial autonomy. Since the Taliban takeover in 2021 the position of women has become even more dangerous, and any progress that has been made in women's freedoms has been swiftly undone.
Is it getting harder to be a Christian in Afghanistan?
It was already almost impossible to be a Christian in Afghanistan – and somehow it has got even worse. Many Afghans fled the country after the Taliban took over and there was wide expectation that freedoms in the country would be swiftly curtailed. For Christians, though, there were basically no freedoms to lose: Afghanistan had been number two on the Open Doors World Watch List for several years, and Christian persecution remains extreme in all spheres of public and private life. The risk of discovery has now further increased since the Taliban now controls every aspect of government. This extends to owning documentation – including paperwork from international troops – that may help identify Christians.
How can I help?
Every £37 could provide emergency food, medicine and shelter for a month to a family of Christian refugees fleeing extreme persecution.
Any excess funds will be used to help strengthen persecuted Christians in other countries where there is urgent need.
Bishop Hannington Church supports mission all over the world. Through the charitable trust, the James Hannington Memorial Trust, the church gives money and other resources to support gospel work in many different nations.