Report: Global Christian Persecution Rose for Third Year in a Row in 2016

SANTA ANA, Calif. — A watchdog organization that releases a report each year on the global persecution of Christians says that acts of hostility against believers rose for the third year in a row in 2016, with persecution in South and Southeast Asia particularly rising to “unprecedented levels.”

“For Christians in the West, the Open Doors World Watch List is a clear indicator that we need to advocate on behalf of those who do not have the same religious freedom privileges we do,” said David Curry, president and CEO of Open Doors USA in a statement.

The organization released its annual “World Watch List” on Wednesday, which marks the 50 most dangerous places to live as a Christian. It noted that out of the 50 countries on the list, an estimated 215 million Christians currently face significant or extreme persecution.

North Korea ranked the worst place to live as a Christian for the 15th year in a row, but the countries that followed were not far behind.

“In this totalitarian communist state, Christians are forced to hide their faith completely from government authorities, neighbors and often, even their own spouses and children,” the report outlines. “Entire Christian families are imprisoned in hard labor camps, where unknown numbers die each year from torture, beatings, overexertion and starvation.”

The World Watch List found that Islamic terror was also a major force behind the global persecution, including in a number of African nations, where groups like Al-Shabaab and Boko Haram make life difficult for followers of Christ.

“Since the downfall of Ziad Barre in 1991, Somalia has become a safe-haven for Islamic militants,” it explains. “Christian converts from Islam in the country have been facing a great deal of persecution, and martyrdom is very common. The mere suspicion of one’s having renounced Islam leads to a rushed public execution.”

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Following Somalia’s number two placement on the list is Afghanistan, where Christians are in the minority. In fact, Christians are a “small and vulnerable minority” in most of the countries on the list. In 41 of the 50 nations, Christians constitute less than 15 percent of the population, and in 27 countries, less than 5 percent.

“Many in Afghanistan who convert from Islam to Christianity are murdered once their extended families learn of their new faith,” the report outlines. “In other families, Christian converts are delivered to mental hospitals under the premise that no one in their right mind would ever choose to leave Islam.”

Syria and Iraq, which continue to be ISIS strongholds, ranked sixth and seventh.

But what especially concerned Open Doors USA was the spike in persecution in India, where an average of 40 incidents of violence or hostility against Christians were reported each month. The organization believes that the election of Hindu nationalist party leader Narendra Modi in 2014 was partly responsible for the increase.

“A stand-out trend is that religious nationalism is driving the Asian countries up the list,” explained Dr. Ron Boyd-MacMillan, Director for Strategic Research. “It’s a long-term trend, it’s been gathering pace since the 1990s when nobody bothered to notice it.”

“But this year, I think it’s really come into its own,” he said. “It is most visible in India; India is at its highest position on the World Watch List ever. The Hindu extremists are really in power, and a mob can do what they like in India, and it’s a large Church so there are a lot of incidents.”

It is believed that 39 million of the estimated 64 million identifying Christians in India have faced persecution.

The other countries listed in the top ten are Pakistan, Sudan, Iran and Yemen.

The full World Watch List may be read here.


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  • sammy13

    It really is not surprising. There would be no persecution if groups and governments did not feel threatened by the truth. So in one respect, the persecution is proof that Christ’s message is alive and well. And for those of us living in relative safety, we should be strong in the faith and not cave in to popular culture and remain vocal in promoting Christianity or we risk similar persecution.

  • tatoo

    If there were no religion, there would be no religious persecution.

  • Grace Kim Kwon

    Western Christians must never submit to the West’s Sodomy and immorality’s mental illness, even for the sake of all suffering global Christians. Freedom was established in the Western civilization first for living out God’s Word, not for forced endorsement of abnormal perverts or for hurting children with blasphemous education. Use freedom in the USA while possible. Let’s not become like the German churches in Nazi era. Don’t put skin colors and sexual sins in the same category. That is the very Nazi racism.

    • Jenny Ondioline

      Once again Grace I must point out to you that there is no such thing as “the West’s sodomy and immorality mental illness”. That is a nonsense phrase.

      • Grace Kim Kwon

        Secular West is blasphemous and puffed up and is trying to indocrinate mankind into becoming a Sodom.
        God will deal with the earthly Sodom before the immoral West hurts global children further. You guys need real parents and real children. Be ashamed of your nudist culture. You guys need fixuture from the Church as all others did. Read Jude 1.

        • Jenny Ondioline

          As always, I don’t know what you’re talking about. I have no “nudist culture” nor is there anything about the “West” that embraces sodomy. You’re speaking in broad, ridiculous platitudes. No one is trying to turn anything into a “Sodom” – there’s no organization that would do such a thing.

          • Grace Kim Kwon

            Stop forcing people to acknowledge or serve gay weddings and transgenderism. That’s religious persecution.

          • Jenny Ondioline

            If you don’t want to acknowledge them, then you’re not living in the year 2017, Grace. Your church doesn’t make the rules the rest of us have to follow. That’s why we have governments. You need to re-read the line from your bible about rendering unto Caesar.

          • Grace Kim Kwon

            You are wrong. The societies need the Church to guide them or they hurt many. The Western culture is too self-destructive and also destructive upon children, but the West is powerful and forces nations to adopt abnormal immorality as something normal. Sexually sinful people should not have access to children. Read the Holy Bible and try to keep the Ten Commandments to become civilized. You need to repent of your sins to get saved.

          • Jenny Ondioline

            You appear to not understand that we have separation of church and state, and for a good reason. How would you feel if it were Islamic laws that were being enforced rather than Christian ones?

          • Grace Kim Kwon

            Islamic laws NEVER create USA. Western atheists and secularists are not only immoral but also stupid. Psalm chapter 14.