1 in 12 Christians worldwide persecuted, report shows

Palestinian worshipers face enormous amount of pressure

January 11, 2018 13:10
2 minute read.
Syriac Christian women pray during mass at the Saint Efram Syriac Orthodox Church in Qamishly, Syria

Syriac Christian women pray during mass at the Saint Efram Syriac Orthodox Church in Qamishly, Syria. (photo credit: RODI SAID / REUTERS)


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About 215 million Christians are being persecuted due to their faith, according to a report released by the Open Doors organization Wednesday. This represents 1 in 12 Christians worldwide.

The most dangerous place to be a practicing Christian is in North Korea. There is also a high level of persecution against Christians in the Palestinian Territories, the World Watch List report showed.

Released by the Open Doors organization, the list is an annual report on the global persecution of Christians ranking the top 50 countries where Christians are persecuted due to their faith. Released at the beginning of each year, the list uses data from Open Doors field workers and external experts to quantify and analyze persecution worldwide.

The list’s number one cause of Christian persecution is the spread of radical Islam. Out of the top 10 countries with the highest rate of Christian persecution, Islamic oppression fuels that persecution in eight of them: Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan, Pakistan, Libya, Iraq, Yemen and Iran.

This is the second year in a row that Islamic oppression has been the main trend in causing persecution of Christians. According to Open Doors, every day, six women are raped, sexually harassed or are forced into marriage to a Muslim under threat of death due to their Christian faith.

“The World Watch List matters. It matters because it is the most trusted measurement of religious persecution in the world today,” CEO David Curry said. “But even more important, the list matters because it’s a spiritual EKG showing the strength and vulnerability of the global Church.”

Countries are ranked by the severity of persecution of Christians, calculated by analyzing the level of violent persecution plus the pressure experienced in five spheres of life: church life, national life, community life, family life and private life.

Unsurprisingly, North Korea was ranked number one on the list for the 16th consecutive year. For three generations, everything in the country focused on idolizing the leading Kim family, and as a result Christians are seen as hostile elements in society that needs to be eradicated.

While Christians in the Palestinian Territories face a low level of violence against them due to their religion, the 67,700 Christian believers face an enormous amount of pressure despite laws that protect religious freedom.

Israel is not on the list.

In five countries where the main dominating religion is Christianity, there is still a high level of persecution. In the African states of Ethiopia, Kenya and Central African Republic, Islamic oppression is rampant and in Mexico and Colombia organized crime and corruption have created a secular ideology that is intent on eliminating religious expression in the public domain and eliminating Christian involvement in social and political discourse.

In more than 60 countries, Open Doors supports persecuted Christians with bibles, emergency aid, discipleship training, vocational skills, trauma counseling and advocacy.

The non-denominational mission ministry was launched in 1955 by the Dutch Brother Andrew, author of God’s Smuggler, which tells the stories of his secret missions to smuggle bibles into hostile regions.

Open Doors has been monitoring persecution of Christians worldwide since the 1970s.
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