A report revealed that 260 million Christians around the world face extreme levels of persecution, a 6% increase from last year’s findings.
In the annual World Watch List from Open Doors released on January 15, North Korea, for 18 years in a row, still topped the list of 50 countries where it is illegal to be a Christian. Lives are at stake for Christians living in the hermit country. If discovered, they would be thrown in labor camps or killed on the spot. Worshiping is done in secret, even hidden from their own family.
Christians remain one of the most persecuted religious groups in the world. —Open Doors
David Curry, president and CEO of Open Doors USA, explained that North Korea leads the report since the communist country “controls every element of life and church, and Christians are the number one enemy of the state.”
The top 10 countries in the World Watch List 2010 are:
- North Korea
China, while not included in the top 10, jumped four spots, from #27 in 2019 to #23 this year. Open Doors noted the “rise of the surveillance state” in the Asian country. The government installs surveillance cameras in churches and uses facial recognition technology, which Open Doors warned could be used to track and control Christians, reports Sight Magazine.
“What they’re doing is creating a road map of persecution. This is a blueprint that they will sell and use in other countries,” said Curry.
The Christian anti-persecution charity fears that China would use technology to discriminate people of faith. The communist country has introduced a “Social Credit” system” where points are awarded to citizens or deducted from their record based on their behavior.
“Anti-social behaviors, in this arrangement, will give you a worse credit score, making services more expensive and more difficult to access,” disclosed Open Doors.
The organization noted that the spread of Islamic extremism is one of the main reasons for the increase in Christian persecution. “But that’s not to say it’s remained static. These are very fluid situations,” clarified Curry.
Almost all of the countries on the World Watch List are in Asia and Africa, except for Colombia and the Russian Federation.
“Christians remain one of the most persecuted religious groups in the world. While persecution of Christians takes many forms, it is defined as any hostility experienced as a result of identification with Christ,” said Open Doors.