2024 Open Doors World Watch List’s Top 50 Countries Where Christians Face Extreme Persecution

~ 2024 Open Doors World Watch List Report Reveals Top 50 Countries Where Christians Face Extreme Persecution ~

Islamic militants and autocratic regimes intensify danger for sub-Saharan African Christians

The 2024 Open Doors World Watch List, widely viewed as the most trustworthy and comprehensive analysis of global Christian persecution, is now available. Respected for its robust and verifiable data, the Open Doors World Watch List shares the latest findings on Christian persecution around the globe and key trends detailing the regions where being a Christian poses the most significant risks. 

“As Christian persecution rises to the most significant levels in history, there’s an opportunity for us as believers to come alongside and support our brothers and sisters in Christ as they are enduring persecution for the sake of the Gospel,” said Open Doors US CEO Ryan Brown. “There is no better reminder than the annual release of the World Watch List that we need to stay informed about and in prayer for our persecuted family members throughout the world.”

This year, the Open Doors World Watch List reports over 365 million Christians face high levels of persecution and discrimination for their faith. This number is up from 360 million last year. This means that 1 in 7 Christians experience pressure or violence because of their faith in Jesus. 

Once again, North Korea is the No. 1 country on the World Watch List. The southeast Asian country ruled by the Kim dynasty continues to crush any perceived threat to its authority, including religious belief. If they aren’t executed outright, Christians discovered in North Korea risk imprisonment in North Korea’s infamous network of labor camps. Pressure is constant. 

Sub-Saharan Africa remains the most violent place in the world for Christians as radical violence continues to sweep across the area. Faith-related deaths in sub-Saharan Africa far outstripped those of any other region in the annual report. This has been a trend for several years. More than 82 per cent of Christians killed because of their faith were in Nigeria (ranked No. 6 on the 2024 World Watch List), according to Open Doors’ World Watch List research.

“It’s heartbreaking to hear about what our brothers and sisters in Christ are experiencing in Nigeria and other parts of Sub-Saharan Africa,” Brown added. “Most of us can’t imagine what it’s like to live in fear for our very lives because of our faith in Christ, but what a testimony these faithful believers are to the rest of us. We must continue to remember them in prayer as well as emulate their faithfulness in our own contexts.”

This year also saw a substantial rise of violence against Christians in India, even as the world’s most populous democracy prepares for national elections in 2024. Ethnoreligious violence in Manipur Sates left hundreds of Christians dead and thousands displaced, and hundreds of other Christians in Chhattisgarh State were told to either renounce their faith or leave their homes. Those who protested were beaten. 

The research for Open Doors’ 2024 World Watch List has also exposed an alarming spike in the number of churches and Christian properties that were attacked or closed down during the research period. By far the largest number of churches closed down can be seen in China, where “house churches”—which in reality may be large congregations meeting in public—were targeted. 

The 2024 World Watch List has revealed the reality of persecution against Christians around the world, and it compels media, government officials and everyday citizens to speak out. RYAN B QUOTE ABOUT SPEAKING OUT AND TAKING ACTION. The facts cannot be ignored, and the problem of global persecution against Christians has again been revealed as one of the most prominent human rights issues of our time.

Open Doors 2024 World Watch List

Open Doors 2024 World Watch List by the numbers:  

  • 4,998 Christians killed worldwide for their faith. This is a conservative estimate, as many violent incidents go unreported.
  • A seven-fold increase in attacks on churches, Christian schools and hospitals from 2,110 (WWL 2023) to 14,766 (WWL 2024). 
  • Christians beaten or threatened increased from 29,411 reported cases (WWL 2023) to 42,849 on the 2024 World Watch List
  • Attacks on homes rose 371 per cent from WWL 2023 figures (4,547 to 21,431)
  • Christians forced out of their home or into hiding more than doubled from 124,310 (WWL 2023) to 278,716 (WWL 2024)
  • One in 7 Christians worldwide face high levels of persecution and discrimination for their faith

What is the World Watch List?

The World Watch List is an annual report published by Open Doors which ranks the countries where it is most difficult to profess and practice the Christian faithThe list is based on levels of violence, the degree of government restrictions, and the amount of social hostility towards Christians and is intended to raise awareness about the persecution of Christians around the world and to encourage people to support those who are suffering. Released at the beginning of each year, the list uses extensive research, data from Open Doors field workers, their in-country networks, external experts and persecution analysts to quantify and analyse persecution worldwide. The methodology is audited by the International Institute for Religious Freedom. This year’s list covers the period 1 October 2022 – 30 September 2023.

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