More than 360 million Christians suffer high levels of persecution and discrimination for their faith.

Persecution of Christians has reached the highest levels since the World Watch List began nearly 30 years ago.

Christian persecution: Research by OpenDoors has listed the worst places to be Christian (Image: OPENDOORS/GETTY IMAGES)

In Open Doors’ World Watch annual ranking report, list the top 50 countries where Christians face very high or the most extreme levels of persecution.

That is one in 7 worldwide; 1 in 5 in Africa, 2 out of 5 in Asia, and 1 in 15 in Latin America.

5,898 Christians were killed for faith-related reasons last year, 5,110 churches were attacked and 6,175 Christians were detained.

Afghanistan replaces North Korea as number 1 on the World Watch List. Following the Taliban takeover in August 2021, Christians face certain death if discovered. Much of the Christian population has fled and the ones who remain are in hiding. Despite dropping to number 2 after 20 years at the top of the list, persecution in North Korea remains absolute in every area of life. The 2022 World Watch List reports that persecution has reached the highest recorded levels in the country.

While China maintained its position on the list at number 17, Christian freedoms continue to deteriorate. Its influence on the world of persecution is also growing. It is exporting the ideology and technology of oppression. Countries as diverse as MyanmarMalaysia, Sri Lanka, Central Asian States have emulated the Chinese model.

Nigeria has risen two places on the list, as Jihadist violence continues to intensify in Sub-Saharan Africa. 79% of the almost 6,000 Christians killed for their faith in the past year were in Nigeria. DRC (40) and the Central African Republic (31) join Nigeria in the top ten for violence against Christians.

Every country in the top 50 is ranked as experiencing ‘very high’ or ‘extreme’ levels of persecution. Outside of the top 50, an additional 26 countries are categorised as having ‘very high’ or ‘high’ levels of persecution. The severity of persecution in countries on the list, demonstrated by the total points scored, has increased by more than 20% since 2014. This signifies an increased pressure in all areas of life for persecuted Christians.

The report indicates that the Islamic Extremism is expanding at an alarming rate, and that the Covid crisis has been used as a cover to weaken the church.

In Myanmar and Qatar, for instance, house churches have remained closed despite the lifting of Covid restrictions.

Open Doors’ mission is to ensure that persecuted Christians do not suffer alone – but are connected to the worldwide church for support and encouragement.
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