How many Christians are there in Bangladesh?
Bangladesh has 169.5 million people. The number of Christians is 950,000, meaning they comprise just 0.6% of the country’s Muslim-majority population.
How are Christians persecuted in Bangladesh?
In Bangladesh, converts to Christianity face the brunt of persecution through severe restrictions, discrimination and attacks.
Since religious beliefs – be that Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist or animist/tribal – are tied to the identity of the community, choosing to follow Jesus can lead to accusations of betrayal. It means Bangladeshi converts often gather in small house churches due to the risk of attack.
Tribal Christians face an increasing double vulnerability since they belong to both an ethnic and religious minority. These believers struggle with people taking their land and face violence. The killings of eight tribal Christians in April 2023 in the Chittagong Hill Tracts region (south east Bangladesh) reflect this danger.
Any churches that actively evangelise among the Muslim majority face persecution – but even historical denominations like the Roman Catholic Church are increasingly targeted by death threats and attacks.
Christians among the Muslim-majority Rohingya, who fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar, face ,harassment and strong pressure from their community. Believers who live in the Rohingya refugee camps can encounter persecution even as they live in displacement camps.
“Teachers always said bad things about the Christians, and all the Muslim students laughed and enjoyed mocking us. I couldn’t say anything. I couldn’t protest. I had no place to complain. Nobody listened to me.” shakib, a teenager from bangladesh
What’s life like for Christians in Bangladesh?
Shakib* and his family are the only believers in their rural village. The 16-year-old has known from a young age that people hate his family, but it’s only as he’s got older that he’s discovered why.
“During Ramadan, they wouldn’t sit with me,” he says of the treatment he’s received at school. “They said if they sit beside me, it will be ‘sinful’ and their fasting won’t be accepted by Allah. They mocked me and laughed at me because I didn’t fast or do Muslim prayers with them.” Even teachers singled him out for bullying.
The bullying became so bad that his parents transferred him to a Christian boarding school. “I am learning about the Lord Jesus Christ and the Bible,” he says. “I get to pray regularly and read the Bible. I am happy here. Now I have many Christian friends. They have also been victims of persecution.”
Shakib likes returning home to visit his family, but it’s also hard because hostility remains. “When my Muslim friends accuse my God falsely, I just keep silent and take the insults. Despite their hatred and anger towards me, I pray for them and try to find comfort knowing that my Lord was insulted and mocked even more than I am. I do not blame them, but I forgive them,” he says.
Amongst Christians in Bangladesh, Shakib’s experiences are not unusual, but neither is his strong faith – helped by the prayers and support of their global family.
*Name changed for security reasons
Is it getting harder to be a Christian in Bangladesh?
Yes: the country has risen four places in the latest World Watch List. Whilst daily pressure fell, there was an increase in violence against Christians, including the murder of eight tribal believers in April 2023 following clashes.
How can I help Christians in Bangladesh?
Please keep praying for your brothers and sisters in Bangladesh. Your prayers make an enormous difference to those following Jesus no matter the cost.
Open Doors works through local church partners to strengthen persecuted believers in Bangladesh through biblical training, Bible distribution, literacy programmes and socio-economic development projects, as well as emergency relief aid.
Dear God, we ask that You will be with Your people in Bangladesh, especially those who came to know You out of a different faith. We thank You for being a God who calls each of us by name, and we ask You to remember Your children in Bangladesh. We also pray for the families of the tribal Christians who were killed this year – please be with them and help them heal as they mourn. Finally, we pray for our brothers and sisters among the Rohingya refugees – please protect and help them to find fellowship even in a refugee camp. Amen.