The number of Christians suffering high to extremely high persecution is 14 percent more in 2019, Open Doors reported, counting 245 million individuals globally.
Persecution driven by Islamic extremism and Communist authoritarianism in the world’s two most populous countries, India and China, marked the increase, Open Doors said today (Jan. 16) in releasing its 2019 World Watch List of the 50 countries with the most extreme Christian persecution.
“Islamic radicalism continues to dominate and influence all spheres of life for Christians, and we are watching China and India very closely,” Open Doors USA President and CEO David Curry said in releasing the latest findings. “The distressing impact of billions of people living in an environment in which the government oppresses freedom of religion is unraveling day by day as millions of Christians are being attacked, imprisoned or killed.”
Life without religious freedom is no freedom at all, Curry said at a Washington press conference announcing the findings.
“Religious freedom is the first freedom,” he said. “If you don’t have the right to make up your own mind, are you really free at all?”
China climbed to 27th on the list from 43rd in 2018. India ranked as the 10th most persecuted country this year, its first time in the top 10 in the rankings’ 27-year history. India outpaces China in persecution, despite the rampant closure of house churches and the widespread arrest of Christians.
“India has a large population of Christians,” Curry said, “and the radical agenda of the BJP (Bharatiya Janata) Party has created an environment — and I can’t repeat this enough because it needs to be understood — that India’s not a safe place for Christians. Because the government has looked the other way when mobs have attacked churches, and then they have tacitly approved the arrest of pastors. Christians of all kinds are under pressure in India.”
North Korea, an authoritarian regime mandating worship of President Kim Jong-un, maintains its first place for the 18th consecutive year. Others in the top 10, in descending order are Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, Pakistan, Sudan, Eritrea, Yemen and Iran.
Russia, which had not placed in the top 50 countries of persecution since 2011, entered the 2019 list at No. 41.
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Source: Baptist Press