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Mask wearer at church in Beijing.JPG
Reuters
Mask wearer at church in Beijing.JPG
Reuters
USA News

Christian groups subjected to killings, attacks and 'scapegoating' during Covid says new report

by Sophie Drew

A new study has revealed how the coronavirus pandemic affected Christians across the world. It describes killings, targeted attacks on religious groups and the "scapegoating" of places of worship. 

The Pew Research Centre studied data from 193 countries. 

In nearly a quarter of nations and territories analysed, physical means - including prison sentences - were used to ensure religious people didn't attend places of worship.

In 11 countries, these means included instances of physical assault. In China, 300 people from the Church of the Almighty God were arrested before being subjected to beatings and electric shocks, according to a 2020 report from the US State Department. 

In India, two Christians died after being beaten in police custody for violating Covid-19 restrictions. 

However, in 35 per cent of countries studied, at least one religious group defied the rules - usually in order to keep their places of worship open. 

In a handful of African and Asian nations, missionaries were deported for violating restrictions. 

It wasn't uncommon for religious groups to find themselves taking the blame. In a third of countries studied, authorities labelled religious groups as the cause of outbreaks. The statistics include 20 countries in Europe.

In these areas, records suggest an increase in violence or vandalism against religious groups. 

While many went against their local public health rules; in 47 per cent of countries, religious leaders encouraged the measures. In some places, this manifested in online church services, or encouraging followers to worship within the confines of their own home. Elsewhere, it was limited to social distancing and mask-wearing. 

In the UK, the Archbishop of Canterbury promoted government advice, and approved the closure of all churches. 

He has since stated he would be "more cautious about closing the churches" if future restrictions were enforced in the UK.

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