Where It’s Dangerous to Follow Christ

Where are Christians most persecuted today?

This year the top 10 worst persecutors are relatively unchanged. After North Korea is Afghanistan, followed by Somalia, Libya, Pakistan, Eritrea, Yemen, Iran, Nigeria, and India.

Nigeria entered the top 10 for the first time, after maxing out Open Doors’s metric for violence. The nation, with Africa’s largest Christian population, ranks No. 9 overall but is second behind only Pakistan in terms of violence, and ranks No. 1 in the number of Christians killed for reasons related to their faith.

Sudan left the top 10 for the first time in six years, after abolishing the death penalty for apostasy and guaranteeing—on paper at least—freedom of religion in its new constitution after three decades of Islamic law. Yet it remains No. 13 on the list, as Open Doors researchers noted Christians from Muslim backgrounds still face attacks, ostracization, and discrimination from their families and communities, while Christian women face sexual violence.

(This switch among the top 10 echoes the decision of the US State Department in December to add Nigeria and remove Sudan from its Countries of Particular Concern list, which names and shames governments which have “engaged in or tolerated systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom.”)

Where It’s Hardest to Follow Jesus:

1. North Korea
2. Afghanistan
3. Somalia
4. Libya
5. Pakistan
6. Eritrea
7. Yemen
8. Iran
9. Nigeria
10. India

India remains in the top 10 for the third year in a row because it “continues to see an increase in violence against religious minorities due to government-sanctioned Hindu extremism.”

Meanwhile, China joined the top 20 for the first time in a decade, due to “ongoing and increasing surveillance and censorship of Christians and other religious minorities.”

Of the top 50 nations:

12 have “extreme” levels of persecution and 38 have “very high” levels. Another 4 nations outside the top 50 also qualify as “very high”: Cuba, Sri Lanka, United Arab Emirates, and Niger.

19 are in Africa (6 in North Africa), 14 are in Asia, 10 are in the Middle East, 5 are in Central Asia, and 2 are in Latin America.

34 have Islam as a main religion, 4 have Buddhism, 2 have Hinduism, 1 has atheism, 1 has agnosticism—and 10 have Christianity.

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

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