By Aaron Earls
More than a quarter of a billion Christians currently face high levels of persecution, according to the latest report from a ministry focused on global persecution and aid.
The organization reported 260 million Christians experienced significant persecution in the 50 countries on the watch list, a 6% increase from the previous year.
In 2019, 2,983 Christians were killed for faith-related reasons. On average, eight Christians were killed every day for their faith last year.
Additionally, 3,711 Christians were detained without trial and 9,488 churches or Christian buildings were attacked.
Open Doors noted four troubling trends concerning modern-day Christian persecution.
1. In the most populated countries, Christians live in a surveillance state.
In his letter opening the 2020 World Watch List, Open Doors CEO David Curry spoke about visiting Beijing, China and being watched by cameras and possibly having his hotel room bugged.
“It’s what some Christians in China go through constantly,” he wrote, “the reality that the government keeps tabs on them, making sure they don’t get out of line. Making sure that Jesus doesn’t ever conflict with the wishes of the state.”
The report notes both China and India are increasingly using facial recognition systems with wide networks of cameras to track Christians and make their lives more difficult.
2. Violent Islamic extremism spikes in sub-Saharan Africa.
Burkina Faso, previously known for religious tolerance, jumped 33 spots from the 2019 World Watch list as militant groups target Christians across the nation.
Terrorist groups in other nations such as Central African Republic, Mali, Cameroon, and Nigeria are threatening government stability and carrying out ongoing attacks on Christians.
3. Militant Islam spreads violence and fear in Southeast and South Asia.
In addition to Africa, radical Islamic groups have begun terrorizing Christians across Asia.
In Sri Lanka, 250 people died and more than 500 were injured in attacks on churches and hotels on Easter Sunday.
4. Christianity is on the verge of disappearing in Iraq and Syria.
The presence of terrorist groups and conflicts in both Middle Eastern countries have led to the rapid decline of the Christian populations.
Before the extended conflicts began, Iraq and Syria had 3.7 million Christians. Now that has dropped to around 946,000, according to Open Doors.
Even those that remain in the country face significant issues, including many being still displaced from their homes.
The 10 most oppressive countries (with their scores out of a maximum of 100) are:
- North Korea (94)
- Afghanistan (93)
- Somalia (92)
- Libya (90)
- Pakistan (88)
- Eritrea (87)
- Sudan (85)
- Yemen (85)
- Iran (85)
- India (83)
Other nations among the 50 worst offenders are Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Vietnam, China, Turkey, Colombia, Kenya, and Russia.
Aaron Earls is senior writer/editor of LifewayResearch.com.