SANTA ANA, CA — For the first time ever, Afghanistan is the most dangerous place on the planet to be a Christian, according to Open Doors’ 2022 World Watch List, which was released today. The World Watch List is a definitive, comprehensive research-based report that ranks the top 50 countries where it is most dangerous to be a Christian. Afghanistan has supplanted North Korea, which now ranks #2 on the list, after spending 20 years at #1.
“People should not interpret this to mean that North Korea has gotten any safer for religious minorities. In fact, the situation there is worse,” said Open Doors USA President and CEO, David Curry. “That should tell you everything you need to know about how bad conditions are for Christians who remain in Afghanistan.”
According to Open Doors, every Christian in Afghanistan is now either in hiding or on the run. The Taliban’s interpretation of Islam considers Christians to be traitors, enemies of the state, enemies of the tribe and even the community; they are deemed to be “infidels,” and the punishment is death.
“Conditions for Christians have never been more dangerous,” said Curry. “We must take decisive action now to prevent a religious genocide against Christians in Afghanistan.”
Among other sobering insights, Open Doors’ data suggests more than 360 million Christians globally now suffer high levels of persecution and discrimination – that’s one-in-seven Christians worldwide.
In addition to the resurgence of the Taliban, the surge of Islamic radicalism from groups like Boko Haram, al Shabab and the Islamic State has put millions of Christians at risk. Seven of the top 10 countries on the 2022 World Watch List experience some level of Islamic radicalism.
Sub-Saharan Africa continues to be a hotbed for religiously-motivated attacks against Christians., Nigeria, which jumped from #9 to #7, was the most violent country for Christians again, with 79 percent of recorded killings occurring there.
“Open Doors’ research is irrefutable proof that Nigeria’s human rights violations must be reinstated on the State Department’s list of countries of particular concern,” noted Curry. “Islamic extremism around the world has been galvanized by the victory of the Taliban in Afghanistan—and Christians pay the consequences.”
China, ranked again at #17, remains a serious threat to its 100 million Christians. The country recently implemented additional restrictions on Christian Bibles and literature online. Soon, Christians in China will only have access to Bibles with key passages removed or altered because they conflict with communist dogma. As a result of persecution, Open Doors estimates around 80% of Christian churches in China have now fractured into small groups or have gone underground.
Curry and Open Doors also called on all American Christians to boycott the upcoming Beijing Olympic Games.
“Open Doors applauds the Biden administration for taking a stand against China’s human rights violations with a diplomatic boycott,” said Curry. “However, today, as the leading advocacy group focused on religious freedom, Open Doors USA calls on every Christian in the United States to join this Olympic boycott in the name of persecuted Christians and Muslims in China.”
Other Stats from 2022 World Watch List:
- Cuba entered the top 50 at #37 due to restrictive measures on churches, particularly Protestant congregations.
- Saudi Arabia rose from #14 (2021) to “Extreme” levels at to #11 (2022), reflecting that any Christian convert there is in immediate danger.
- Qatar rose from #29 (2021) to #18 (2022), primarily because of an increase in forced church closures. Churches that shuttered due to the COVID-19 pandemic have been forced to remain closed even after other faith communities were allowed to reopen.
- Niger saw a significant jump from #54 (2021) to #33 (2022), due to a spike in violence and ongoing activity by radical Islamic extremists.
The 2022 World Watch List also painted a grim picture for Christian women, presenting Christian women as the most vulnerable group in the world today. They are now targets of kidnapping, violence, rape and forced marriages, in many, if not all, of the top World Watch List countries.
To view the full 2022 World Watch List and methodology, visit OpenDoorsUSA.org/World-Watch-List.
For more information and interview scheduling for President and CEO, David Curry or Open Doors’ Senior Fellow, Ambassador Sam Brownback, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Open Doors USA
For more than 60 years, Open Doors USA has worked in the world’s most oppressive and restrictive countries for Christians. Open Doors works to equip and encourage Christians living in dangerous circumstances with the threat of persecution and to mobilize the Western church to pray and advocate for the persecuted. Christians are one of the most persecuted religious groups in the world and are oppressed in at least 60 countries. For more information, visit OpenDoorsUSA.org.