Jeremy P. Barker on 2020 World Watch List Highlights Severe Christian Persecution and Global Trends That Threaten Religious Freedom

The 2020 World Watch List highlights the severe persecution faced by more than 260 million Christians in 50 countries around the world and points to trends of religious repression that affect not only Christians but those of any faith who have their religious freedom threatened at the hands of tyrants or terrorists.

The World Watch List is released annually by Open Doors, an organization working with persecuted Christians for more than 60 years. The World Watch List is important as a reliable source of information that demonstrates the global scale of the problem. The list draws from on-the-ground reporting that is cross-checked with research organizations and experts on religious freedom and Christian persecution.

This list is particularly useful because it measures not only violent persecution, but also pressure on Christians in their individual, family, community, church, and national life — these other domains where religious freedom is so often violated.

North Korea tops the list again for the 18th time, a fact not surprising given the way in which the regime seeks to control all parts of life.

This List provides important insights into not only particular countries but also some of the major trends that threaten religious freedom around the globe.

Technology-aided surveillance state: China

China (#23) has laid out a blueprint for government repression of religion through their use of emerging technology and artificial intelligence (AI) to bolster its state surveillance programs.

In efforts tantamount to a second cultural revolution, the Chinese Communist Party is deploying these tools to close down churches and to enforce an ideology of “government as god.”

If we want to see where this trend may be heading for Christians, we need only to look at the Uyghur Muslim community where more than 1 million have been detained in “re-education camps” because of their religious beliefs, which China labels a security threat in its war on faith.

The situation is alarming enough in China and we are seeing this technology exported and poised to be a devastating tool for other authoritarian regimes.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Jeremy P. Barker