312 million Christians are persecuted because of their faith in 50 countries. These are the places where it is most dangerous to be a Christian, according to a report by the organization Open Doors.
Islamic countries in Asia and Africa
One in five Christians is persecuted in Africa. Two out of five are persecuted in Asia. These two continents dominate the list, with 46 of the 50 countries where it is most risky to worship Christ.
Thirty-three countries out of the top 50 have a predominately Islamic population. However, in ten of them, surprisingly, the most practiced religion is Christianity. There are four mostly Buddhist nations that persecute Christians, two that officially declare themselves agnostic (North Korea and China) and one Hindu.
The relationship between Islam and its mistreatment of Christians is no coincidence, as Raymond Ibrahim explains in this Voz Media article. The same is true in cases of sexual abuse.
North Korea leads persecution
"North Korea remains a brutally hostile place for Christians to live," according to Open Doors' report. The organization estimated that there are 400,000 Christians living under the one-man dictatorship of Kim Jong-un.
If discovered by the authorities, believers are either sent to labor camps as political prisoners where the conditions are atrocious, or killed on the spot – and their families will share their fate as well. Christians have absolutely no freedom. It is almost impossible for believers to gather or meet to worship.
Why is there so much anti-Christian animosity? Christianity is viewed as something that goes against the authorities and society in general, according to Open Doors, which also warned of the dangers of daring to profess this faith on North Korean soil:
Across the year, Open Doors contacts heard from reliable sources that several dozen North Korean believers from several underground churches had been discovered and executed. More than 100 members of their families were also said to have been rounded up and sent to labor camps.
Latin America appears on the list
One new Latin American country joined the list this year. Nicaragua is at the bottom of the ranking. It joined Colombia, Cuba and Mexico, which were already part of the top 50 in 2022.
The non-profit organization pointed out that the corruption and ineffectiveness of public institutions favored this situation by "creating space" for ethnic leaders or criminal groups to strengthen themselves. This led to persecution, especially among indigenous populations and rural areas.
The report also accused some governments of playing an active role in religious persecution:
Government repression in Nicaragua, Cuba and Venezuela has intensified against those who are seen as opposition voices. In Nicaragua especially, communist repression of church leaders became increasingly visible during the year.
Christianity is often attacked in Mexico and Colombia as a result of organized crime. Corruption also has a profound effect on Christians.
The complete list
2,110 churches were attacked last year. 5,621 Christians were killed and 4,542 people were arrested. Despite this unfavorable data, the non-profit stressed that there are some "glimmers of hope." The number of Christians who were killed went down compared to last year, although the decrease was minimal (from 5,898 to 5,621). However, these glimmers quickly fade when it comes to kidnappings. The number of Christians held against their will increased substantially in the last year from 3,829 to 5,259.
In addition, "there has been promotion of greater tolerance in a number of Middle Eastern countries." Open Door highlighted the cases of Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt - although, in the latter, the government continues to push Christians to convert. Qatar moved up from 74th to 68th place. However, none of these countries are among the top 50 most dangerous, as can be seen below.