Nearly 1 million Christians have been murdered for their faith over the last decade, according to research conducted by a think tank affiliated with the Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Massachusetts. Additionally, the annual report by Gordon-Conwell's Center for the Study of Global Christianity found that as many as 90,000 Christians were martyred in the last year, or approximately 900,000 or more.
The finding that one Christian every six minutes were killed in 2016 was leaked by Italian sociologist Massimo Introvigne in a December 2016 interview. The report on the leak received considerable media attention before the actual release of the annual report. The center asserts that an average of 90,000 Christians have died each year on average from 2005 to 2015.
An email from the organization to supporters read, "In the last week, several news organizations reported on the persecution of Christians around the world and cited our figure of 90,000 Christian martyrs in 2016."
"The Center for the Study of Global Christianity has done extensive research on Christian martyrdom, both historical and contemporary. We estimate that between 2005 and 2015 there were 900,000 Christian martyrs worldwide — an average of 90,000 per year."
The organization asserts that only 30 percent of the 90,000 Christians were killed in 2016 because of terrorism. Seventy-percent of the 90,000 Christians were actually killed in tribal conflicts in Africa, which raises the question of whether or not 70 percent of 90,000 Christians were killed for their faith or just victims of violent conflicts.
According to the Christian Times, the Open Doors watchdog organization estimated that over 1,200 Christians were martyred worldwide between November 1, 2015 and October 31, 2016. According to a spokesperson for Open Doors, those numbers do not include Christians killed in North Korea and some areas of Iraq and Syria. According to spokesperson Emily Fuentes, the death rate is only one factor of persectuion. She noted that Christians are "displaced, attacked, abused or face hardship in their everyday lives because of their faith."