A new report revealed that Christian persecution has substantially risen for the 5th consecutive year.
Open Doors recently released its 2022 World Watch List, announcing that a staggering 360 million Christians experience high levels of persecution and discrimination — an increase of 20 million from last year’s findings, nearly 6%. The 2022 World Watch List documents Christian persecution that occurred between October 1, 2020, and September 30, 2021, and lists the top 50 countries where it is dangerous to be a Christian. There is more persecution today than during any other time in Church history, and it only continues to escalate.
Killings of Christians increased from 4,761 to 5,898, and around 6,175 Christians were detained without trial, arrested, or imprisoned. In addition, 3,829 Christians were abducted, and 5,110 churches and other Christian buildings were destroyed. Today, 1 in 7 Christians worldwide face persecution for their faith. All of these statistics are increases from last year’s World Watch List.
Afghanistan replaced North Korea as the number 1 country where it is the most dangerous to be a Christian. What was already a distinctly perilous country for Christians before the Taliban took control in August 2021 has become only more perilous.
According to Open Doors, the few thousand Christians left in Afghanistan are forced to keep their faith secret because if they are discovered, they must either flee the country or die. The Taliban have enforced a strict observance of Islamic rules, and “Christian converts don’t have any option but to obey” or else be exposed.
Christian women and girls are at an even higher risk in Afghanistan. With famine and soaring food prices ripping through Afghanistan, some families have resorted to selling their daughters in marriage to strangers to buy food.
North Korea has been at the top of the World Watch List for 20 years and has been moved to number 2. However, the situation for Christians in North Korea is far from improved, and according to the 2022 World Watch List, persecution has actually intensified.
If discovered, Christians in North Korea are either executed, tortured or imprisoned in labor camps. Open Doors estimates that between 50–70,000 Christians are already imprisoned in North Korea’s labor camps. In addition, children are encouraged to report their parents to North Korean authorities for their faith. If one Christian is discovered, the entire family will often be executed or imprisoned.
Winter famine has also struck North Korea, leaving many on the brink of starvation. Open Doors reports that Christians “known for past ‘crimes,’ like possessing a Bible,” are “neglected for whatever meager food aid is available.”
Nigeria moved from #9 on the 2021 World Watch List to #7. Nearly 80% of documented Christian killings were in Nigeria, making it by far the most violent country for Christians.
Open Doors USA CEO David Curry stated that these numbers are “irrefutable proof that Nigeria’s human rights violations must be reinstated on the State Department’s list of countries of particular concern.”
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Image: Map of the top 50 countries where it is most dangerous to be a Christian. (Courtesy of Open Doors USA.)