Christian Persecution : Open Doors’ 2017 World Watch List is Released

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This past year, for the 3rd year in a row, persecution of Christians has hit a record high worldwide.

Open Doors has released its 2017 World Watch List (WWL) and cites increasing concerns for Asia along with the Middle East, due to both ethnic nationalism and Islamic extremism.

“The annual list examines the pressures faced by Christians in five spheres of life (private, family, community, national, and church), plus levels of religiously motivated violence, in order to rank the top 50 countries where ‘Christians face the most persecution.’”

Open Doors defines persecution as “any hostility experienced as a result of identification with Christ.” It states, “Christians remain one of the most persecuted religious groups in the world. Christians throughout the world continue to risk imprisonment, loss of home and assets, torture, beheadings, rape and even death as a result of their faith.”

A report by Christianity Today lists these 10 trends in regards to the study:

  • Approximately 215 million Christians experience high, very high, or extreme persecution.
  • North Korea remains the most dangerous place to be a Christian (for 14 straight years).
  • Islamic extremism remains the global dominant driver of persecution, responsible for initiating oppression and conflict in 35 out of the 50 countries on the 2017 list.
  • Ethnic nationalism is fast becoming a major driver of persecution. “While this took an anti-establishment form in the West, in Asia it took an anti-minorities form, fueled by dramatic religious nationalism and government insecurity. It is common—and easy—for tottering governments to gain quick support by scapegoating Christians.”
  • The total number of persecution incidents in the top 50 most dangerous countries increased, revealing the persecution of Christians worldwide as a rising trend.
  • The most violent: Pakistan, which rose to No. 4 on the list for a level of violence “exceeding even northern Nigeria.”
  • The killings of Christians in Nigeria saw an increase of more than 62 percent.
  • The killings of Christians were more geographically dispersed than in most time periods studied. “Hitting closer to home, 23 Christian leaders in Mexico and four in Colombia were killed specifically for their faith,” said Open Doors of the “rare” event.
  • The worst increase: Mali, which moved up the most places on the list from No. 44 to No. 32.
  • Asia is a new center of concern, with persecution rising sharply in Bangladesh, Laos, and Bhutan, and Sri Lanka joining the list for the first time.​

The top 10 nations where it is most dangerous and difficult to practice the Christian faith are:

  1. North Korea
  2. Somalia
  3.  Afghanistan
  4. Pakistan
  5.  Sudan
  6. Syria
  7.  Iraq
  8. Iran
  9. Yemen
  10. Eritrea

Yemen was the only new country in the top 10, replacing Libya from previous years.

… read more

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