Christian persecution goes digital

Written by on January 28, 2020

Persecution against Christians across the world is getting worse, the annual report by Open Doors International claims

The 2020 World Watch List, released this month, reveals in the top 50 countries alone 260 million Christians face a level of persecution measured as extreme, very high or high.

In total, one in eight Christians worldwide face persecution measured as extreme, very high or high – a six per cent increase from 2019.

Key Findings:

  • Persecution is going digital, with surveillance cameras, facial recognition software and biometric systems used to monitor and target Christians
  • 260 million Christians in the top 50 countries alone experience a high to extreme level of persecution
  • Christians in 34 countries experience a very high to extreme level of persecution. In 2019, it was 29 countries

Released each year, ranking the top countries where the persecution of Christians is most extreme, the World Watch List is the most authoritative of its kind. The list account for the 12 months ending 31 October 2019.

North Korea remains the most dangerous place for Christians, having been number one since the inception of the list in 2002. Something as simple as owning a Bible can mean a person is arrested and taken to one of the country’s infamous labour camps, never to return. Currently 50,000 – 70,000 Christians are in labour camps.

Despite not ranking in the top 50 last year, the fastest riser on the list was Burkina Faso at #28. Due to increasing Islamic extremism in the sub-Saharan region of Africa, a multitude of radical Islamist jihadist groups are taking advantage of instability and poverty to set up home in states like Bukino Faso, Mali (#29), and Niger (#50). In these weak and fragile states many Christian communities are left without protection by their governments.

Sri Lanka rose significantly from #46 in 2019 to #30, largely due to the church bombings that took place on Easter Sunday. The coordinated attacks claimed the lives of hundreds of Christians as they gathered to celebrate Easter.

Mike Gore, CEO of Open Doors Australia and New Zealand says, “The 2020 World Watch List once again shows that the cost of following Jesus is increasing the world over as both violent and non-violent acts of persecution increase. Now more than ever before, the global body of Christ needs to stand united, both parts serving the other, and together helping each other follow Jesus all over the world, no matter the cost.”

“The ongoing commitment to global discipleship will be at the forefront of the work of Open Doors for the foreseeable future, aimed at equipping and strengthening the global Church to stand courageously for Jesus.”

View the full list here World Watch List 2020

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