A newly released study has concluded that millions of Christians around the world now face “severe persecution” as religious minorities.Open Doors USA has compiled a list of the 50 countries “where it’s most dangerous to follow Jesus.” Topping the World Watch List for 2018 were:
- North Korea
Countries were ranked by the severity of persecution of Christians, calculated by analyzing the level of violent persecution in addition to “the pressure experienced in five spheres of life,” which were:
- Church Life
- National Life
- Community Life
- Family Life
- Private Life
In a separate comment on Twitter, Open Doors USA said only one point separated North Korea and Afghanistan in its final analysis of Christian persecution in both countries. This is the 16th consecutive year North Korea has led the rankings.
The report notes that 215 million Christians—one in 12 believers worldwide—“experience high levels of persecution” from the 50 countries on the World Watch List. During the reporting period, more than 3,000 brothers and sisters in Christ were killed, more than 1,200 ere abducted, and more than 1,000 were raped or sexually harassed. Nearly 800 churches were attacked in the same time.
The report found the increase in “severe” Christian persecution is being driven by three principle factors:
- The spread of radical Islam
- The rise of religious nationalism
- Intense persecution in Central Asia
Islamic oppression of Christians was seen as the primary factor in eight of the top 10 countries on the list.