Open Doors USA Releases 2020 World Watch List: Report Finds Over 9,000 Churches or Christian Buildings Were Attacked in 2019 and 260 Million Christians Face ‘High Levels of Persecution’

David Curry, president and CEO of Open Doors USA, addresses the rise of global Christian persecution at the 2020 Open Doors’ World Watch List press conference. | Open Doors USA

Leading Christian persecution watchdog nongovernmental organization Open Doors USA released it’s 2020 World Watch List Wednesday, an influential annual data report that this year highlights a drastic increase in attacks against Christian buildings and the imprisonment of Christians. 

The report, first launched in 1992, ranks the worst 50 countries in the world when it comes to the persecution of Christians and is based on data compiled by Open Doors’ operations in 60 countries.

This year’s list names a number of repeat offenders such as North Korea, China, Iran, Somalia, and Eritrea as well as new countries where radical Islamic extremism wreaked havoc on Christian communities in 2019.

Open Doors rolled out the 2020 report at a briefing attended by representatives of the Trump administration, Congress, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom and prominent human rights activists.

“The 2020 World Watch List will provide you with the most credible grassroots data on Christian persecution. But it is much more than that,” Open Doors USA CEO David Curry explained. “It’s going to sound the alarm.”

The report finds that about 260 million Christians experience “high levels of persecution” in the top 50 countries on the list, an increase of about 6 percent from the 2019 report.

The report also states that 9,488 “churches or Christian buildings” — or an average of 25 per day — were attacked during the 2019 reporting period (Nov. 1, 2018, to Oct. 31, 2019). By comparison, Open Doors noted in last year’s report that 1,266 churches or Christian buildings were attacked.

Also, the number of Christians detained without trial, arrested and imprisoned increased from 2,625 in the 2019 report to 3,711 in the 2020 report.

The 2020 report, however, indicates a decrease in the number of Christians killed for their faith. At least 2,983 Christians were killed for faith-related reasons during the last reporting period. That is an average of eight Christians killed per day. By comparison, an average of 11 Christians was killed per day (4,136) during Open Doors’ 2018 reporting period.

Curry told The Christian Post the drop in killings Open Doors was able to document for this year’s report was due to the Islamic terror group Boko Haram killing fewer Christians in Nigeria (No. 12).

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith