Open Doors reports persecution of Christians around the globe is getting worse.
According to studies conducted each year by the organization, 2014 was the world’s worst year for the persecution of Christians in modern times. And then 2015 surpassed it.
Here is their current list of the ten most dangerous countries for Christians (shown in red on the map):
- North Korea
Open Doors is a non-denominational mission supporting persecuted Christians in over 60 countries where Christianity is socially or legally discouraged or oppressed. They are also engaged in the distribution of Bibles and literature, audio recordings, broadcasting and training.
The annual list studies pressures on private, family, community, national, and church areas of life, plus levels of violence, in order to rank the top 50 countries where “Christians face the most persecution.”
African countries now outnumber Mideast countries on the list, affecting far more Christians numerically. Christian martyrdoms and destruction of churches nearly doubled.
“Open Doors USA predicted that while Christians faced the worst persecution in modern history in 2014, the worst was yet to come,” the organization stated. “The prediction was sadly fulfilled in 2015—the persecution of Christians increased on every continent.”
According to the report, more than 7,000 Christians were killed for their faith last year, up drastically from 4,344 in 2014 and 2,123 in 2013. In addition, 2,400 churches were damaged or attacked worldwide, more than twice the number in 2014.
Those numbers don’t include North Korea or parts of Iraq and Syria, where accurate numbers are hard to obtain, Open Doors said.
The main culprit for the increases in violence and oppression? Violent Islamic extremism. “With its rise being the lead generator of persecution for 35 out of the 50 nations on the list,” stated Open Doors. “Its two hubs are in the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa, regions where persecution has risen to a level akin to ethnic cleansing.”
In 2016, the number one worst country in the world continues to be North Korea, which has been on the Open Doors list for over a decade.
Currently, there are an estimated 300,000 Christians in North Korea, but like everyone else, Christians there are required to worship the nation’s leader Kim II-Sung. Belonging to another religion makes you an enemy of the state. Thousands of Christians are imprisoned, and many have reportedly been tortured and executed. Believers meet secretly, and risk arrest and death by doing so.
Map Key: Red = Extreme Persecution, Gold = Severe Persecution, Green = Moderate Persecution, Blue = Sparse Persecution. Map via opendoorsusa.org.
For more information on the Open Doors organization and more details about their annual study visit opendoorsusa.org.