More than 360 million Christians suffer high levels of persecution
World Watch List: Countries where it’s hardest to be a Christian unveiled.
Last year alone, 5,110 Churches were attacked globally, 5,898 Christians were murdered, while 6,175 were detained for their faith in Jesus Christ.
This is according to a new report released by Open Doors International, which for over 60 years has been supporting persecuted Christians worldwide.
The non-denominational organization based in the Netherlands, a country in northwestern Europe, last month presented its 2022 World Watch List (WWL) which ranks the top 50 countries where Christians experience the worst persecution for their faith.
Released at the beginning of each year, the survey, covering a period from 1 October 2020 to 30 September 2021, revealed that persecution against believers in Christ, continues to rise especially in Asian and African countries and that the Coronavirus pandemic has further exacerbated discrimination.
“The severity of persecution in countries on the list, demonstrated by the total points scored, has increased by more than 20% since 2014. This signifies an increased pressure in all areas of life for persecuted Christians,” the report says.
According to its findings, which have been thoroughly analyzed by the independent International Institute for Religious Freedom (IRF), over 360 million people (that is 1 out of 7 globally) endured persecution and discrimination in their country last year.
Overall, 5,898 Christians, including Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants, Baptists, Evangelicals and Neo-Pentecostals, etc., were killed (up 23,8 % versus 2020), 5,110 churches were attacked or closed (up 13,8 %), 6,175 were arrested without trial (up 44,3%) and 3,829 kidnapped (up 123,9%).
According to the report, Afghanistan is the most dangerous country for Christians, followed by North Korea, Somalia, Libya, Yemen, Eritrea and Nigeria. They are followed by Pakistan, Iran, India, Saudi Arabia, Myanmar, Sudan, Iraq and Siria.
“Afghanistan replaces North Korea (2) as number 1 on the World Watch List. Following the Taliban takeover in August 2021, Christians face certain death if discovered. Much of the Christian population has fled and the ones who remain are in hiding,” the report says.
Nigeria rose two places on the list, as Jihadist violence continues to intensify in Sub-Saharan Africa, according to the report. 79% of the almost 6,000 Christians killed for their faith in the past year were in Nigeria.
“Nigeria’s rise by two places in the top 10, is just one sign of the rising tide of Jihadist violence in the region. Colleges, schools, churches, villages, and community leaders continue to be targeted for kidnappings, killings, injuries, and destruction of livestock and livelihoods especially by Fulani militants, as well as known jihadist groups such as Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa Province,” Open Doors says.
According to the report, governments such as Sri Lanka, Myanmar, China, and Malaysia are using pioneering technology to surveil and control its citizens. In India, the report says Hindu extremists use social technology platforms to incite violence and discrimination.
Moving on, the report says in Myanmar and Qatar, house churches have remained closed despite the lifting of Covid restrictions, and that in Vietnam, state and non-state actors used COVID-19 outbreaks to slander churches.
Open Doors attempted to find out more about violence against women connected with their Christian faith. The organization recorded 1,500 cases of forced marriages in 2021.
All hope is not lost
Open Doors revealed that while persecution is intensifying, stories abound of resolute faith and steadfastness in the face of opposition.
“The light keeps shining in the darkness, and the darkness has not overpowered it. God’s faithfulness remains a beacon even in the most dangerous places on earth to be a Christian.
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