(Real Clear Policy)—Open Doors International, a nonprofit organization that supports persecuted Christians in over 70 countries, has released its annual 2024 World Watch List, which highlights and ranks countries in which Christians face the most severe persecution and discrimination.
Each year, the report brings vital attention to brave Christians around the world who suffer because of their faith.
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Tragically, the 2024 report reveals that persecution against Christians is worsening.
The previous year’s World Watch List found that more than 360 million Christians faced severe persecution and discrimination for their faith. Today, this figure has increased to more than 365 million people, with “dangerously violent” instances of persecution taking place in listed countries.
Further, the 2024 report records a significant increase in the number of attacks on churches and Christian properties last year. According to Open Doors: “More than 14,700 churches or Christian properties such as schools and hospitals were targeted in 2023. It marked a sevenfold increase compared with attacks recorded the previous year.”
Additionally, in 2023 the total number of Christians who were forced to leave their homes for various reasons—including political instability, war, and extremism—more than doubled from the previous year. Nearly 300,000 Christians had to flee their homes and approximately 3% of Christians in sub-Saharan Africa’s most dangerous countries were displaced.
According to the report, North Korea is “the most dangerous place in the world for Christians.” If a person’s Christian faith is discovered, he or she is killed on the spot or shipped to a labor camp where the chances of survival are slim. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un sees Christianity as a threat to the dictatorship and carries out an effective death sentence on believers.
In China, General Secretary Xi Jinping similarly sees Christianity as a threat to the Chinese Communist Party’s power. Last year, at least 10,000 churches (mostly underground house churches) were closed in China; other, state-sanctioned churches were required to display signs that read “Love the Communist Party; Love the country; Love the religion.”
In Asia as a whole, 2 in 5 Christians are persecuted for their faith. Christians in India face violent attacks from Hindu extremists and are punished for violating anti-conversion laws in some states.
Rishi, a church leader in India, told Open Doors: “Though I was attacked twice, still I can feel God’s protection in my life. I was attacked, yet was not crushed. I will continue to trust my God.”
In Africa, 1 in 5 Christians are persecuted. Somalia was ranked No. 2 for countries in which Christians face the most extreme persecution. In Somalia, most Christians are Muslim converts and are consequently targeted by Islamist extremists, namely the terrorist group al-Shabaab, which has expressed its objective to eliminate Christians from the country.
Nigeria, according to Open Doors, “remains the deadliest place to follow Jesus.”
In 2023, nearly 5,000 Christians were killed for their faith, with 82% of the slayings occurring in Nigeria. Ranked No. 6 on the 2024 World Watch List, according to Open Doors: “More Christians are killed for their faith in Nigeria than in all the other countries of the world combined.”
For millions of Christians around the world, the cost of worshipping freely is high. Some even pay the price with their lives.
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Open Doors’ 2024 World Watch List brings crucial attention to Christian persecution and discrimination— and is a vital tool for those who wish to help Christians around the world.