More than 340 million Christians live in places where they experience high levels of persecution just for following Jesus.
It is crucial this Christmas to take a moment to remember the millions of persecuted Christians around the world. More than 340 million Christians live in places where they experience high levels of persecution just for following Jesus. That’s 1 in 8 believers worldwide.
Each year the human rights organization, Open Doors, releases a report that ranks the top 50 countries where Christians are most persecuted for their faith. In addition to the information, they supply readers with how to pray for each country.
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’ metric for violence. With Africa’s largest Christian population, the nation 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 freedom of religion in its new Constitution after three decades of Islamic Law. Yet, it remains number 13 on the list. Open Doors researchers noted that Christians from Muslim backgrounds still face attacks, ostracization, and discrimination from their families and communities, while Christian women face sexual violence.
The genocidal levels of persecution are staggering. According to the report, 13 Christians worldwide are killed every day because of their faith. Each day 12 churches or Christian buildings are attacked, and 12 Christians are unjustly arrested or imprisoned, while another five are abducted.
The report states 309 million Christians live in places with “very high” or “extreme” levels of persecution. That’s up 260 million from those accounted for last year. Sadly, the number of persecuted Christians continues to grow year after year.
Open Doors identified three main trends driving last year’s increase:
- “COVID-19 acted as a catalyst for religious persecution through relief discrimination, forced conversion, and as justification for increasing surveillance and censorship.”
- “Extremist attacks opportunistically spread further throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, from Nigeria and Cameroon to Burkina Faso, Mali, and beyond.”
- Chinese censorship systems continue to propagate and spread to emerging surveillance states.”
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