How many Christians are there in the Central African Republic?
Three-quarters of the population of Central African Republic are Christian, that’s almost 3.8 million believers, but they are still vulnerable to persecution.
What does persecution look like in Central African Republic?
Despite Christians comprising three-quarters of the population of the Central African Republic, they are still vulnerable to persecution. Since 2013, CAR has been embroiled in conflict and fighting, and most of the country is occupied by armed militia groups that are responsible for a wide range of human rights abuses. When Christian leaders publicly have denounced the violence, they have been threatened and their churches ransacked and torched. Conflict in the country has resulted in thousands of Christians losing their homes and livelihoods, and many continue to live in Internally Displaced People (IDP) camps.
Converts to Christianity face further pressure from family members. Women and girls can be put under house arrest to prevent them from meeting with other Christians, or forcibly married to a much older Muslim. There are reports that sometimes a Christian mother is only allowed to attend Christian gatherings on condition that her children are sent to the mosque. The local community will often ostracize Christian converts and might also try to force them to renounce Christianity through violence.
Persecution against Christians is most severe in the northern and eastern parts of the country, where Muslims are a majority and splinter-groups of the rebel alliance Séléka are operating. Christians are also particularly at risk in the eastern part of the country that borders Sudan.
Members of Pastor Ousman's church were attacked by an Islamic rebel group, killing 10 people and burning a church and around 70 houses belonging to Christians.
"Our fate has been sealed for several years by [extremist] Muslims who harassed us on all fronts."Ousman
Violence remains extreme in the Central African Republic, as do targeted attacks, which is increasing pressure on Christians in all areas of public and private life. This is compounded by a rise in disruption and opposition to church life. Meanwhile, the humanitarian crisis is worsening in the country, and in June 2021, was at a five-year low. This makes life even harder for vulnerable believers.
Open Doors works through local partners to support believers in the Central African Republic with persecution survival training, economic empowerment projects and trauma care.
- Pray that God will bring lasting peace and stability to Central African Republic.
- Pray for protection for Christians as they live out their witness to Christ, especially pastors and their families who often face the gravest danger.
- Pray that God will encourage and protect Open Doors partners who are working to equip the church while facing many of the same risks.
Father God, we pray for our brothers and sisters in Central African Republic. Please bring an end to the years of conflict and poverty and replace them with peace and stability. Protect Your children as they seek to live lives devoted to You. Speak to Islamic extremists in dreams and visions so that they encounter You and turn from violence and hatred to love. Amen.