Every day, 13 Christians worldwide are killed because of their faith, 12 churches or Christian buildings are attacked, 12 Christians are unjustly arrested or imprisoned, while another 5 are abducted. Today, one in eight Christians worldwide are persecuted for their faith.
This is according to the 2021 ‘World Watch List’ annual report produced by Open Doors, a non-profit organization that chronicles persecution against Christians, guides prayers and shows persecuted believers that they are not forgotten.
During the last year, the top 10 worst persecutors are North Korea and Afghanistan, followed by Somalia, Libya, Pakistan, Eritrea, Yemen, Iran, Nigeria and India. Sudan left the top 10 for the first time in six years, after abolishing the death penalty for apostasy ad guaranteeing freedom of religion under its new constitution after three decades of Islamic law. Yet, it remains in the 13th place on the list, as Open Doors researchers noted Christians from Muslim backgrounds still face attacks, ostracisation and discrimination from their families and communities, while Christian women face sexual violence. India remains in the top 10 for the third consecutive year because “it continues to see an increase in violence against religious minorities due to government sanctioned Hindu extremism.”
The report notes there are 309 million Christians living in places with “very high” or “extreme” levels of persecution. That’s up 260 million from those accounted for last year. The report says another 31 million could be added from the 24 nations that fall just outside the top 50 – such as Cuba and Sri Lanka.
When launching the report this week, Open Doors said that while many might think that Christianity is dying, that “Christians are keeping quiet, or losing their faith”. Actually, notwithstanding that persecution has increased significantly during 2020, the reverse is actually happening.
Apart from Islamist fundamentalism in Sub-Saharan Africa, the report claims that Covid-19 acted as a catalyst for religious persecution through relief discrimination, forced conversions, and as justification for increasing surveillance and censorship. Another factor driving increased suffering of Christians is to be found in more extremist attacks throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, from Nigeria and Cameroon to Burkina Faso, Mali and beyond.