SANTA ANA, CA – According to its website, “For over 60 years, Open Doors has worked in the world’s most oppressive countries, empowering Christians who are persecuted for their beliefs. Open Doors equips persecuted Christians in more than 60 countries through programs like Bible & Gospel Development, Women & Children Advancement, and Christian Community Restoration.” At the beginning of each new year, Open Doors publishes a well-researched and analyzed World Watch List of the 50 nations in which Christian persecution is the most intense.
Persecution is defined as “any hostility experienced as a result of one’s identification with Christ. This can include hostile attitudes, words, and actions toward Christians.”
Persecution is measured by the combined elements of smash and squeeze. Smash is the tracking of concrete incidents. Squeeze is a calculation of the amount of pressure placed place on Christians’ lives and witness in five specific purviews: private life, family life, community life, national life, and church life.
The 2019 World Watch List identifies five major forces that influence the persecution of Christians around the world, regardless of the country in which they live:
1. Persecution of Women.
Christian women are subjected to double-edged persecution in many countries. Where they are denigrated simply for being women, the persecution is compounded when they become followers of Jesus.
2. Islamic Oppression.
Seven of the top 10 countries on the World Watch List are areas where Islamic extremists make life unbearable for believers through squeeze. The “slow creep of Islamic control” affects every facet of the lives of Christians. Media headlines ignore the Islamic political, diplomatic, and grassroots social campaigns that bring the greatest pressure on Christians.
3. Legislation to Control Religion.
Whether under the guise of the fight against terrorism or the zeal to promote a spirit of nationalism, many countries are passing laws that limit or prohibit Christian worship in churches, Sunday schools, summer camps, or private homes. Advancements in technology allow governments previously unimaginable control and the ability to monitor believers and to enforce these laws.
3. The Spread of Islam Across Sub-Saharan Africa.
The report identifies Sub-Saharan Africa as posing “one of the world’s most potent security challenges, as weak governance, poverty and radical Islam increasingly collide.” Nearly 30 militant Islamic groups have been identified in the sub-continent. They are vigilante forces unto themselves and are not hindered by national boundaries.
4. Persecution is on the Rise in the World’s Two Most Populous Countries.
China moved 16 spots higher on the list from the 2018 list, not yet reaching the top 10 but jumping from 43rd place to 27th. India moved into 10th place on the 2019 report. The significance of the upward movement of China and India is the sheer magnitude of their population. China has a population of 1.4 billion people, 5.1% of whom are Christians. India is home to 1.3 billion with a Christian population of 2.3%
For the 18th straight year, North Korea leads the top 10 countries where Christians are subject to the most persecution. All 10 countries are in Asia, Africa, or the Middle East.
- North Korea
The entire 2019 World Watch, including details on the situation in each country, is available at this link to Open Doors.
To read more news on Christian Persecution on Missions Box, go here.
- Open Doors, 2019 World Watch List
- The Christian Post, Worst 50 places for Christians ranked in 2019 World Watch List: India in top 10 for first time
- FaithWire, World Watch List 2019: These Two Countries See ‘Dramatic Increase’ in Christian Persecution
- Open Doors, 5 Major Trends Influencing Global Christian Persecution