The Countries Where It’s Most Dangerous to Be a Christian in 2019

Countries are ranked by the severity of persecution of Christians, calculated by analyzing the level of violent persecution plus the pressure experienced in five spheres of life: church, national, community, family, and private.

During the World Watch List 2019 reporting period, in the top 50 countries, a total of 1,266 churches or Christian buildings were attacked; 2,635 Christians were detained without trial, arrested, sentenced and imprisoned; and 4,136 Christians were killed for faith-related reasons. On average, that’s 11 Christians killed every day for their faith.

 

One in every nine Christians in the world lives in an area, or in a culture, in which Christianity is illegal, forbidden, or punished, according to the latest report on global persecution by Open Doors USA. That’s a 14 percent increase over the previous year.

For the past 27 years, the organization has published the Open Doors World Watch List, a global indicator of countries where human and religious rights are being violated, and those countries most vulnerable to societal unrest and destabilization.

During the World Watch List 2019 reporting period, in the top 50 countries, a total of 1,266 churches or Christian buildings were attacked; 2,635 Christians were detained without trial, arrested, sentenced and imprisoned; and 4,136 Christians were killed for faith-related reasons. On average, that’s 11 Christians killed every day for their faith.

Countries are ranked by the severity of persecution of Christians, calculated by analyzing the level of violent persecution plus the pressure experienced in five spheres of life: church, national, community, family, and private. Based on the report’s research, the top 10 nations where Christians found it most dangerous and difficult to practice their faith are:

1. North Korea

Persecution type: Communist and Post-Communist Oppression

Estimated number of Christians: 300,000

How Christians are suffering: “The primary driver of persecution in North Korea is the state. For three generations, everything in the country has focused on idolizing the Kim family. Christians are seen as hostiles to be eradicated. There was hope that new diplomatic efforts in 2018—including the 2018 Winter Olympics—would mean a lessening of pressure and violence against Christians, but so far that has not been the case. Kim Jong-un has maintained tight control over the populace, and dissent or worshiping anything else is not tolerated.”

Prayer point: “The situation for Christians is vulnerable and precarious. They face persecution from state authorities and their non-Christian family, friends and neighbors. Pray for their protection.”

2. Afghanistan

Persecution type: Islamic oppression

Estimated number of Christians: Thousands

How Christians are suffering: “Afghanistan is an Islamic state by constitution, which means government officials, ethnic group leaders, religious officials and citizens are hostile toward adherents of any other religion. This means any expression of any faith other than Islam is simply not permitted to exist. Additionally, to convert to a faith outside Islam is tantamount to treason, because it is seen as a betrayal of family, tribe, and country.”

Prayer Point: “Christian converts from Islam face strong pressure from family, friends and neighbors and can even be attacked. Pray for these believers to have courage and protection.”

3. Somalia

Persecution type: Islamic oppression

Estimated number of Christians: A few hundred

How Christians are suffering: “Estimates suggest that 99 percent of Somalis are Muslims, and any minority religions are heavily persecuted. The Christian community is small and under constant threat of attack. Sharia law and Islam are enshrined in the country’s constitution, and the persecution of Christians almost always involves violence. Additionally, in many rural areas, Islamic militant groups like al-Shabab are de facto rulers.”

Prayer point: “Somali Christians often must hide their faith to stay safe. Pray for the safety and discipleship opportunities for these isolated believers.”

4. Libya

Persecution type: Islamic oppression

Estimated number of Christians: 37,900

How Christians are suffering: “After the ouster of former dictator Muammar Gaddafi, Libya plunged into chaos and anarchy, which has enabled various Islamic militant groups to control parts of the country. Converts to Christianity face abuse and violence for their decision to follow Christ. Libya is also home to many migrant workers who have been attacked, sexually assaulted, and detained, which can be even worse if it is discovered they are Christians.”

Prayer point: “Pray for the protection of migrant workers, especially for those who are Christians and face double persecution.”

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