US Catholics Now as Concerned About Persecution as Climate Change or Refugees

But more than a third incorrectly believe Christians suffer less than half of world’s religious freedom violations.

American Catholics are growing more concerned about the fate of the world—and with it, Christian persecution.

More than 9 in 10 now identify persecution as either “very” or “somewhat” severe. This is roughly the same percentage as an identical poll last year, both sponsored by the US branch of Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). But over the last 12 months, the share choosing the “very severe” category rose from 40 percent to 46 percent.

And their level of concern went with it, rising 9 percentage points. Last year, 49 percent of Catholics described themselves as “very concerned.” This year, 58 percent.

The poll surveys 1,000 American Catholics across the spectrums of age, politics, and piety, conducted by McLaughlin & Associates.

It showed that intense Catholic concern is growing on several global issues. Those “very concerned” about human trafficking rose from 72 percent to 82 percent. Poverty climbed from 68 percent to 74 percent. The refugee issue jumped from 50 percent to 60 percent. And climate change nudged forward from 55 percent to 57 percent.

So while those unconcerned about Christian persecution fell by half (from 18% to 9%), overall the “church in need” only ranked No. 4 among the list of issues.

But last year, it was No. 5.

Following the 2018 poll, George Marlin, chair of ACN-USA, said it “reveals quite clearly” the need for more emphasis.

It seems to have worked.

“It is heartening to see that US Catholics have a growing awareness of and concern about the persecution of Christians,” he said following the 2019 survey.

“[But] it is telling that [these other issues] get more attention.”

Without …

And the result is 38 percent of Catholics believing that Christians suffer less than half of persecution worldwide. They are incorrect: Researchers with Under Caesar’s Sword, a $1 million study funded by the Templeton Religion Trust, found that Christians experience between 60 percent to 80 percent of the world’s religious discrimination. (More of it is experienced by evangelicals/Pentecostals than by Catholics.) And the surveyed Catholics are more wrong than before. Last year’s poll found only 43 percent of Catholics believing that Christians are more persecuted. This year their number went down to 39 percent.

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