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30

Score

67.69

Region

Latin America

Persecution Type

Organized crime and corruption

Religion

Christianity

Persecution Level

Very High

Population

50,576,000

Christian

48,011,000

Government

Presidential republic

Leader

President Ivan Duque Marquez

Profile of Persecution

Violence 13.3/16.7
Church Life 9.9/16.7
National Life 11.0/16.7
Community Life 13.1/16.7
Family Life 8.8/16.7
Private Life 11.5/16.7

What does persecution look like in Colombia?

Though Colombia has a high percentage of Christians, believers still face persecution from criminal gangs and indigenous groups. Guerrilla groups threaten, harass, extort and even murder church leaders, who are targeted because they denounce corruption, defend human rights and oppose cartels. Their children may also be targeted, to discourage church leaders from speaking out against organized crime and corruption. These forms of persecution are particularly prevalent in rural and remote areas of Colombia.

The humanitarian crisis in the Pacific Coast region continues to worsen: the fight for the control of illicit crops, drug trafficking and illegal mining have led to intensified conflict. Many Christians are affected, and are among the thousands of displaced families.

In indigenous communities, persecution tends to focus on Christians who have converted from the beliefs of their indigenous tribe. These Christians face imprisonment, harassment, physical abuse, denial of basic rights and use of their ancestral territory, or being sent away to do forced labour in a different territory, among other forms of persecution. Often they are targeted to make an example of them, so that the rest of the community is deterred from conversion.

Another key driver of persecution is secular intolerance. Increasingly, Christians are facing hostility, verbal abuse and discrimination for their stance on issues such as abortion, sexuality and gender orientation. The participation of Christians in the political sphere as diminished as a result.

Meet Daniela, whose father was murdered for his faith

“I learned that, although there are difficult times in life, there are also times when Jesus helps us to overcome through people and prayer.”

What has changed this year?

Last year saw protests in Colombia, partly against corruption and controversial government measures. Church leaders were among those who supported the demonstrators, and this led to threats and violence. Overall, there has been a small increase in the persecution faced from the wider community and a small decrease in the incidents of violence, but persecution has not significantly changed in Colombia in the past year. Violence remains high, with seven Christians killed for their faith between January and September 2021.

Who is most vulnerable to persecution?

Christians who’ve converted from an indigenous religion are most vulnerable to persecution in some regions of Colombia. Elsewhere, Christians—and particularly church leaders and their families—are most at risk in areas dominated by guerrilla gangs and drug cartels. Furthermore, rising secular intolerance means Christians are increasingly vulnerable to hostility, verbal abuse and discrimination for speaking out on certain issues.

What does Open Doors do to help?

Open Doors strengthens the persecuted church in Colombia through Bible distribution, training, trauma care, community development projects, emergency relief aid, and education and safe houses for children.

Population statistic: Johnson T M and Zurlo G A, eds., World Christian Database (Leiden/Boston: Brill, accessed April 2021).

Pray for Colombia

  • Pray that God would offer protection for pastors and communities who are targeted by organized criminal groups.
  • Pray for wisdom and the presence of the Holy Spirit so that indigenous Colombian Christians can remain steadfast in the gospel.
  • Pray that God will equip local Open Doors partners to stand alongside and serve the persecuted church in Colombia.

Stories from Colombia

July 7, 2021

7 Vacation Paradises That Are No Holiday for Christians

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January 18, 2021

13 Christians murdered for following Jesus—every day

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November 23, 2020

Where her dad was murdered, Daniela found joy in Jesus

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