It is a blessing to live in a country where people of faith can live without fear. That is not the case for many other countries around the world. Open Doors World Watch Research Unit has just released the list of countries where Christians are currently experiencing the most amount of persecution.
This index ranks the 50 countries where approximately 215 million Christians experience high levels of persecution because of their faith. The average score for all 50 countries on the 2017 World Watch List increased slightly compared to 2016.
"A stand-out trend is that religious nationalism is driving the Asian countries up the list," said Dr. Ron Boyd-MacMillan, Director for Strategic Research at Open Doors International.
North Korea again is at the top of the list for the 16th consecutive year. Somalia moved up 4 places to number two due to the intensely tribal character of Somali society meaning any Muslim who converts to Christianity is immediately detected, which can result in death. Nine of the top 10 on the 2017 list also were among the top 10 on the previous year's list, Yemen being the exception, displacing Libya. Yemeni Christians are caught in the middle of a civil war between the Saudi Arabia-backed loyalists and Iran-backed Houthi rebels.
For over 60 years, Open Doors has worked in the world's most oppressive countries, empowering Christians who are persecuted for their beliefs. Open Doors equips persecuted Christians in more than 60 countries through programs like Bible & Gospel Development, Women & Children Advancement, Advocacy, and Christian Community Restoration.
The Open Doors World Watch Research unit surveys five areas of Christian life: private; family, community, national, and within the church. Separately, it measures violence against Christians. Scores for each of the six categories are combined to create a total score, which determines each country's ranking on the World Watch List.
Open Doors' research methods and results have been independently audited by the International Institute for Religious Freedom.