Christianity is the majority religion in the United States, so it’s easy for believers to take for granted the rights they so regularly enjoy. From praying and worshipping in public to attending Sunday worship services, practice of one’s faith is generally accepted — even encouraged — in America.
But this isn’t the case in many other nations, in which religion, itself, is banned or where one faith system is permitted and touted, with all others being continually denigrated. In many localities, Christians (not to mention people who subscribe to other, non-majority faith systems) are systematically targeted, mistreated and, in extreme cases, killed because of their theological views.
Open Doors USA recently released its annual “World Watch List,” a ranking of 50 countries that exposes the places Christians are most persecuted across the globe. According to the organization, which works to deliver the gospel to believers in troubled areas, the list includes individuals in all Christian denominations within an entire nation. And rather than focusing upon economic, political, ethnic or social persecution, the rankings only include faith-based affliction.
Here’s a video describing the 2013 “World Watch List”:
The top 50 countries that are listed are labeled with varying levels of concern. From “extreme persecution” on the high end to “sparse persecution” on the low end, a brief description of the conditions for Christians on the ground is given for each of the listed nations (read about the methodology here).
The first 11 countries listed are all labeled “extreme” in terms of the level of persecution that Christians within their boundaries encounter. Once again, North Korea captured the organization’s top spot, with Open Doors providing the following description of the dire conditions there:
For the eleventh year running, this is the most difficult place on earth to be a Christian. One of the remaining Communist states, it is vehemently opposed to religion of any kind. Christians are classified as hostile and face arrest, detention, torture, even public execution. There is a system of labour camps including the renowned prison No. 15, which reportedly houses 6,000 Christians alone. But despite severe oppression, there is a growing underground church movement of an estimated 400,000 Christians.
Here’s the list of the 11 most Christian unfriendly countries:
And here’s the larger list of 50 nations that qualify as having at least mild level of Christian persecution:
To see the complete report and to read the details for each country, visit the “World Watch List” web site.