February 4, 2023

WORLD: Open Doors Reveals In Its Newly Released World Watch List 2023 Christian Persecution Spiked Around The Globe In 2022. 5,621 Christians Murdered for Their Faith In 2022.

CBN News published January 21, 2023: Christian Persecution Rising: North Korea Replaces Afghanistan at the Top of Open Doors'. Open Doors releases its 2023 World Watch list on Christian persecution. This year, North Korea topped the list as the worst persecutor of the followers of Jesus, replacing Afghanistan which fell to the number nine spot. Why? Are the Taliban suddenly becoming more tolerant of converts? Interim Open Doors U.S. CEO Lisa Pearce explains and discusses other countries of concern.
CBN News published January 18, 2023: 'Horrifying Growth of Persecution': Christians Are Under Attack Across the Globe, 'No End in Sight'.

Christian persecution continues to rage across the globe, with believers facing killings, kidnappings, chaos, and crises at the hands of governments, extremists, and even family members. Among the persecution trends unfolding today, Open Doors, an organization monitoring Christian persecution worldwide, warns that "Sub-Saharan Africa faces catastrophic collapse" as Islamist violence breaks out in the region. The organization's 2023 World Watch List, which ranks the 50 nations where persecution is the worst, warns of the "horrifying growth" of these terrors. As it has for many years in the past, the report ranked North Korea as the most sinister place for Christians. The nation's newfound "anti-reactionary thought law" reportedly cracks down on any foreign materials, putting residents in danger for simply possessing or sharing outside content. One report indicates three minors were reportedly executed for sharing South Korean TV shows, offering a lens into the diabolical nature of these regulations. "North Korea returns to No. 1, with its highest levels of persecution ever," Open Doors said in a press release. "Over the 30 years of the Open Doors World Watch List reporting, the global phenomenon of Christian persecution has grown alarmingly." Lisa Pearce, the interim CEO of Open Doors' U.S. office, reflected on the dire nature of these findings. In an interview with CBN's Faithwire, she stressed the importance of Christians knowing and understanding the full scope of global persecution, citing biblical commands for believers to offer love, support, and prayer for one another.

written by Thomas D. Williams, PH.D.
Friday January 27, 2023

ROME — Christian persecution spiked around the globe in 2022, Open Doors reveals in its newly released World Watch List 2023.

Among the sobering statistics included in the annual report were the murders of 5,621 Christians for their faith, the profanation of 2,110 Christian churches and buildings, and the stunning number of Christians around world who face high levels of persecution and discrimination: 360 million.

The Christian persecution watchdog group Open Doors publishes an annual World Watch List ranking the fifty countries where it is most dangerous to be a Christian.

Topping this year’s list is North Korea, an officially atheist communist state that remains “a brutally hostile place for Christians to live” and where “believers are either sent to labor camps as political prisoners where the conditions are atrocious, or killed on the spot,” the reports states.

In North Korea, Christians have absolutely no freedom and it is nearly impossible for believers to gather or meet to worship. Being a Christian or even possessing a Bible is a serious crime that will be severely punished, the report notes.

The reason for such extreme Christian persecution is that “Christianity is seen as a particular threat to the dictatorial ideology and governance of the country’s barbaric regime,” it declares, and Christians “are viewed as enemies of both the leadership and society in general.”

In second place this year is the African nation of Somalia, a majority Muslim nation where Christians are shunned and often violently attacked.

In Somalia, the “violent insurgent group al-Shabaab has repeatedly expressed its desire to eradicate Christians from the country,” the report notes, and Islamic militants have “intensified their hunt for people who are Christian and in a position of leadership.”

Since “church life” is simply not possible, Christians must meet in secret, the report declares, and while no region of Somalia is safe for Christians, “areas in the south and southwest that under the control of al-Shabaab are the most dangerous.”

Yemen, third on the Watch List, is another country where Islamic extremism is the principal driver of Christian persecution.

It is extremely dangerous to be a Christian in Yemen, “due to the country’s strict Islamic laws and the presence of militant Islamic groups,” the report reveals.

In Yemen, it is illegal to convert from Islam to Christianity and Islamic terror groups such as al-Qaeda and the Islamic State threaten so-called “apostates” with death if they do not return to Islam, it adds.

Islamic extremism is pervasive throughout the list and nine of the top ten nations for Christian persecution are Muslim dominated. In countries such as Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sudan, Libya, and Afghanistan, Islamic extremism is the driving force behind ant-Christian violence and oppression.

In Nigeria, for example, Christians “suffer persecution from an ingrained agenda of enforced Islamization, which is particularly prevalent in the north of the country and has gradually been spreading south,” the report notes.

“Attacks by Islamic militant groups have increased consistently since 2015, but the government has failed to prevent the rise in violence, which affects all Nigerians, but particularly Christians,” it states.

visit OpenDoorsUS.org for more information

The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC)
written by Jordan Wootten
Tuesday January 24, 2023

Every year for the last three decades, Open Doors has released the annual World Watch List, a report ranking the top “50 countries where Christians suffer very high or extreme levels of persecution and discrimination for their faith.” In a country like the United States where the free exercise of religion is enshrined in its Constitution, the World Watch List (WWL) is a sobering reminder that our brothers and sisters around the world face real and present danger for their faith in Christ.

What does the 2023 World Watch List reveal?

During its 30 year history, the WWL has revealed an alarming and consistent trend: the persecution of Christians across the globe has grown exponentially, which proved true again this year. Today, more than 360 million Christians suffer at least ‘high’ levels of persecution and discrimination for their faith. Here are some of this year’s takeaways:

1. North Korea tops the list: With 2022 as the lone exception, North Korea has topped the World Watch List every year since 2002. And this year, with the introduction of a new “anti-reactionary thought law,” there was an increase in the number of Christians arrested and the number of house churches discovered and closed, earning North Korea its highest-ever persecution score. Tragically, those who are discovered and arrested “are either sent to labour camps as political prisoners where the conditions are atrocious“—they face starvation, torture, and sexual violence, for instance—”or killed on the spot.” Often, their families will share their fate.

2. Sub-Saharan Africa in catastrophe: Christians in Sub-Saharan Africa face the threat of violence every day. The epicenter of the violence is Nigeria, where militants from the Fulani, Boko Haram, Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), and others “inflict murder, physical injury, abduction and sexual violence on their victims,” scores of whom are Christians. In the last year, there have been more than five thousand religiously motivated killings in Nigeria, which accounts for 89% of the international total. Conditions in the region have also led to a refugee crisis, as many Christians have been displaced while fleeing persecution.

3. China’s campaign to redefine human rights: Another development has been the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) campaign to redefine international human rights away from universal standards, leading countries like Russia, India, and others to follow suit. Christians in these countries who are seen to oppose these new rights “by refusing to support the ruling part[ies]” are often labeled “disturbers of the peace” and even “terrorists,” and face arrest and the demolition of church buildings.

4. Afghanistan’s descent: Afghanistan, who topped the 2022 WWL, fell eight spots to land at number nine this year. While that’s a significant drop, the situation for Christians there remains dire. After the Taliban assumed power in 2021, they went door-to-door rooting out and executing many Christians. Of those who survived, many went deep into hiding or fled the country. The Taliban remains committed to eliminating not only Christians but those with ties to the old regime.

5. Top 10 (last year’s rankings in parenthesis): North Korea (2), Somalia (3), Yemen (5), Eritrea (6), Libya (4), Nigeria (7), Pakistan (8), Iran (9), Afghanistan (1), Sudan (13).

While there have been some positive developments, like a decrease in the total number of Christians killed for their faith (from 5,898 to 5,621) and a growing tolerance in several Middle Eastern countries such as Bahrain and the UAE, discrimination and persecution against Christians on the basis of their faith continues to grow around the world.

What can we do?

As Christians, no matter how many miles separate us from the people represented in the World Watch List, they are our brothers and sisters. While we may feel helpless, we do have the opportunity to “stand with them in solidarity, and remind them they are not alone.”

Here are several ways we can support and stand with our brothers and sisters who face these significant threats everyday:
  • Pray for persecuted Christians around the world. Use the World Watch List tool as a prayer prompt that both alerts you to the need for prayer and informs you of specific ways that you can pray.
  • Partner financially with organizations like Open Doors who serve the persecuted church in difficult regions around the world.
  • Sign up to receive email alerts from Open Doors and keep abreast of how you can pray and partner with them in their work.
Because Christians believe that God works providentially through our prayers, we can all commit to using the World Watch List to remind and motivate us to pray for believers around the world who endure such unimaginable terror. By doing so, we can be certain that God will use our prayers to encourage and minister to Christians in these countries.

What is Open Doors?

Open Doors began in the mid-1950’s when a man known as Brother Andrew “started smuggling Bibles to the persecuted Christians in Communist Europe.” After a visit to Warsaw, Poland, Brother Andrew’s encounter with an “oppressed, isolated, and apparently forgotten church” compelled him to travel throughout Eastern Europe for the next twelve years, “delivering Bibles, encouraging those he met, and recruiting others to help him.” After the publication of God’s Smuggler in 1967 — an account of Brother Andrew’s work in Eastern Europe — his ministry became known worldwide, and “an entire generation caught the vision of supporting Christians who faced persecution and discrimination for their faith.”

Nearly 70 years later, Open Doors has steadily expanded its reach, “serving persecuted Christians in more than 70 countries, working with churches and local partners to provide Bibles, Christian materials, training, livelihood skills and advocacy.” The aim of Open Doors “is to encourage and raise up people in every nation to pray, support and speak up for Christians around the world who suffer for their faith.”

What is the World Watch List?

Beyond its ranking system, the World Watch List is an interactive tool that enables users to “explore the country profiles to find information, stories and prayers for each of the countries, along with ways that [Christians] can stand with [their] persecuted church family in prayer and action.” The list apprises readers of information such as the percentage of Christians persecuted worldwide (along with each specific region), the number of churches attacked and Christians detained or murdered annually, and country-specific information like its dominant religion and system of government.

Truly, the World Watch List is a tool of immense value, informing Christians like us of how we can pray for and serve those who find themselves in locations hostile to Christianity. For information on the WWL methodology, visit this site.

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