The Countries Where It’s Most Dangerous to Be a Christian

One in every 12 Christians in the world lives in an area, or in a culture, in which Christianity is illegal, forbidden or punished, according to the latest report on global persecution by Open Doors USA.

For the past 26 years, the organization has published the Open Doors World Watch List, a global indicator of countries where human and religious rights are being violated, and those countries most vulnerable to societal unrest and destabilization.

“Open Doors monitors the intensity faced by Christians around the world, and the World Watch List quantifies what we see,” said David Curry, president and CEO of Open Doors USA. “This year, as incidents of violence related to persecution have increased—especially those related to women, it is imperative we continue to advocate and call leaders to prioritize issues of religious freedom.”

Of the 215 million Christians that experience persecution, the most vulnerable are girls and women. Every day six women are raped, sexually harassed, or forced into marriage to a Muslim under threat of death due to their Christian faith, says the report. Open Doors USA documented 2,260 such incidences against women—a number they say only covers “those who had the courage to report such an incident, and is estimated to be a mere fraction of those actually raped and harassed in this way.”

Based on the report’s research, the top 10 nations where Christians found it most dangerous and difficult to practice their faith in 2017 were:

1. North Korea

Persecution Type: Communist and Post-communist Oppression

Estimated number of Christians: 300,000

How Christians are Suffering: “If Christians are discovered, no matter if they are heirs of the Christian communities from before the Korean War or found the Christian faith in other ways – e.g. during the great famine in the 1990s (which caused tens of thousands of citizens to seek help in China) – not only are they deported to labor camps as political criminals or even killed on the spot, their families will share their fate as well.”

2. Afghanistan

Persecution Type: Islamic oppression

Estimated number of Christians: Thousands

How Christians are Suffering: “Because all Christians in Afghanistan are essentially converts, they are unable to express their faith, even in private. In many cases, upon being discovered, these converts are considered insane for leaving Islam. If they cannot be convinced to return to their former faith, they are sometimes committed to psychiatric institutions. ”

3. Somalia

Persecution Type: Islamic oppression

Estimated number of Christians: A few hundred

How Christians are Suffering: “Upon discovery, Christians are often killed on the spot. Al-Shabaab holds to the strict Islamic doctrine of Wahhabism and advocates for Sharia law in every facet of life for Somalis. While al-Shabaab poses a severe threat to Christians in Somalia, believers are also persecuted by their families and the community at large.”

4. Sudan

Persecution Type: Islamic oppression

Estimated number of Christians: 1,996,000

How Christians are Suffering: “The government regularly arrests and intimidates Christian leaders and has demanded on at least one occasion that leadership be handed over to a government-supported committee. When interacting with Sudanese Muslims, Christians must be extremely cautious, as any mention of their faith can be construed as an ‘act that encourages apostasy against Islam.’”

5. Pakistan

Persecution Type: Islamic oppression

Estimated number of Christians: 3,938,000

How Christians are Suffering: “Churches that are engaged in outreach and youth work face the worst of the persecution, although all Christians suffer from institutionalized discrimination. Occupations deemed as ‘dirty’ and ‘shameful’ are reserved for Christians, and many believers are victims of bonded labor.”

6. Eritrea

Persecution Type: Dictatorial paranoia

Estimated number of Christians: 2,741,000

How Christians are Suffering: “Arrests and disappearances of Christians are commonplace, and they are often blocked from access to community resources. Christians from non-traditional church groups, especially converts, face the harshest persecution from the government, Ethiopian Orthodox Church and Muslim community.”

7. Libya

Persecution Type: Islamic oppression

Estimated number of Christians: 41,000

How Christians are Suffering: “Libyan Christians from Muslim backgrounds face extremely violent and intense persecution, constantly pressured by their families and the wider community to renounce their faith. Christian migrants from other parts of the continent are also targets of Islamic militant groups and organized criminal groups that kidnap and sometimes kill with shocking brutality.”

8. Iraq

Persecution Type: Islamic oppression

Estimated number of Christians: 258,000

How Christians are Suffering: “Some Christian organizations are threatened with kidnappings and attacks by Islamic militants. Christian believers, especially those who are outspoken, experience discrimination from authorities and non-Christian leaders, with blasphemy laws sometimes used against them if they witness to Muslims.”

9. Yemen

Persecution Type: Islamic oppression

Estimated number of Christians: A few thousand

How Christians are Suffering: “All Christians in Yemen experience persecution for their faith, but converts from Islam experience the worst of it. These converts are essentially forced to keep their faith completely hidden from those around them, including their closest friends and family members, for fear of repercussions should their conversion be discovered. If others come to know that they have left Islam, believers face detention and interrogation by authorities and death threats from family and radical Islamic groups.”

10. Iran

Persecution Type: Islamic oppression

Estimated number of Christians: 800,000

How Christians are Suffering: “Converts from Islam and non-traditional Christian denominations (including Evangelical, Baptist and Pentecostal communities) experience the worst of the persecution. Leaders and church members have been arrested and imprisoned long-term for “crimes against the national security.”

from The Gospel Coalition Blog


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