Open Doors USA released on Wednesday its annual list of top 50 countries where Christians are most persecuted. Two countries were taken off the list and two were put on this year.
Bahrain, a tiny Muslim-majority nation in the Persian Gulf, earned its way off the 2019 World Watch List after being ranked in previous editions because of religious freedom and human rights concerns.
In previous editions, the leading international Christian persecution watchdog called out the “relatively religiously tolerant” kingdom of Bahrain for placing inhibitions on the freedom to assembly, prohibitions against Christians proselytizing and restrictions to religious expression.
In a press conference Wednesday in Washington, D.C. Open Doors USA CEO David Curry had nothing but praise for Bahrain and stated that the country now represents the hope for change that drives the purpose of the World Watch List.
“There is action to be taken. There are things that governments can do — our government here in the United States and elsewhere — to defend the core beliefs of freedom of conscience and religious expression,” Curry told the crowd gathered at the Heritage Foundation Capitol Hill office. “There are signs of hope. Bahrain, you might notice, has dropped out of the top 50 of the World Watch List.”
“I want to commend them,” he added. “Thank you to the royal leaders and the royal family of Bahrain and the government there for what they have done in the last several years. I think it could be a model within that region for how it could be done.”
In Bahrain, Curry said, there are Christians, Jews and Hindus and people of various other faiths worshiping “more freely than ever before.”
“It is improving their entire society,” he explained.
Johnnie Moore, a commissioner on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom who has traveled to Bahrain in the last couple of years, told The Christian Post that the removal of Bahrain from the World Watch List is a sign that Bahrain is “getting the credit they are due.”
“In terms of Bahraini culture, they have led the way in this area for centuries,” Moore, a religious freedom advocate and an evangelical communications executive, explained. “There is a 200-year-old Hindu temple in Bahrain. As you walk up to that temple, they are selling Hindu gods on the streets in this Arab Muslim country. It is an extraordinary thing.”
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith