More than 600 Christian delegates from 136 countries gathered in Washington D.C. on Thursday for the first-ever World Summit in Defence of Persecuted Christians.
Participants of the summit included Christians from Egypt, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, South Sudan and the Central African Republic, where believers have suffered specifically for their faith over the past few years.
U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence was there to reassure religious liberty advocates that President Donald Trump's administration will fulfill its promises to help persecuted Christians and other religious minorities around the world.
"The Bible tells us all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted," he said in his keynote address, according to World. "The reality is across the wider world the Christian faith is under siege. Throughout the world, no people of faith today face greater hostility or hatred than followers of Christ," he added.
Pence noted that both he and Trump pray for persecuted Christians and assured the audience that the president is confronting radical Islamic terrorists who are targeting believers abroad.
"He calls them by name, radical Islamic terrorists," the vice-president said. "Practitioners of terror harbor a special hatred for followers of Christ, and none more so than the barbarians known as ISIS," he continued.
The vice-president contended that the terror group is "guilty of nothing short of genocide against people of the Christian faith and it is time the world called it by name."
Franklin Graham, the president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA), which hosted the summit, gave the keynote address at the opening session of the event on Wednesday night at the Mayflower Hotel, The Christian Post reported.
He noted that the summit included Christians from different denominations and traditions, but he maintained that it was not an ecumenical effort to unite Christians by theology. "As it has been said, the persecution of one Christian, affects us all," he remarked.
During his speech, he paid tribute to the families of some of the 20 Coptic Christians who were beheaded by ISIS on a beach in Libya in February 2015. The publicized footage of the beheadings highlighted the horrors that the Coptic Christians faced around the world at the hands of anti-Christian extremists.
Graham noted that the beheadings in 2015 were not an isolated incident and asserted that Christians today are facing more hostility and persecution than any other time in history.
The evangelist also pointed out that religious extremists are not the only ones responsible for persecuting Christians. He warned that secularists are also becoming hostile to Christians who uphold the "unchanging, moral and spiritual standards of God and His Holy Word."
Graham expressed his belief that the reason Christians are being persecuted is to "suppress their faith, quieten their voice, marginalize the very word of God." He contended that God is not the author of persecution and said that evil people, and ultimately, Satan are responsible for the oppression of believers.