Published On: Thu, Jan 12th, 2017

Christian persecution: North Korea tops list for 16th straight year

For the sixteenth straight consecutive year, essentially this whole century to date, North Korea was ranked the most hostile against Christians, according to the Open Doors 2017 World Watch List published earlier this week.


The Open Doors World Watch List ranks the 50 countries where approximately 215 million Christians experience high levels of persecution due to their identification with Christ.

It is illegal to be a Christian in North Korea and Christians are often sent to labor camps or are killed if they are discovered. The conditions in this country have remained the worst in the world for Christians for the past 16 years.

The “Hermit Kingdom” is followed by Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Sudan at number 5.

Concerning Pakistan, which rose from sixth to fourth, Wilson Chowdhry with the British Pakistani Christian Association writes: “This gives an idea of the increasing severity of the situation in Pakistan for Christians…

“It shows the reality on the ground is still worsening, despite some tentative and fragile actions by the authorities that are sometimes claimed as small signs of hope.”

World Watch List 2017 Video

Rounding out the top 10 is Syria, Iraq, Iran, Yemen and Eritrea.

Christians are a “small and vulnerable minority” in the majority of the countries on the list, according to Open Doors. In 41 of the top 50 countries, they comprise less than 15% of the population; in 27 countries, less than 5%.

Islamic oppression remains the most common cause of pressure against Christians and it is rising most sharply in Africa, where more people are killed for their Christian faith than anywhere else in the world.  As extremist Islam spreads across Africa westwards from Somalia, almost every country from Kenya upwards is affected.

The rise of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to power in India has unleashed a religiously motivated nationalist fervor and India is one of the six countries whose scores rose the most.

In fact, five of the six countries whose underlying scores rose most sharply during the past year are in South and Southeast Asia: India, Bangladesh, Laos, Bhutan and Vietnam.

“A stand-out trend is that religious nationalism is driving the Asian countries up the list,” said Dr. Ron Boyd-MacMillan, Director for Strategic Research at Open Doors International.

Since the Hindu nationalist BJP won national elections in India in 2014, the pace of anti-Christian violence has accelerated in the country’s north, where as many as 40 million Christians live.

For over 60 years, Open Doors has worked in the world’s most oppressive countries, empowering Christians who are persecuted for their beliefs.

The Open Doors World Watch Research unit surveys five areas of Christian life: private; family, community, national, and within the church. Separately, it measures violence against Christians.

Open Doors’ research methods and results have been independently audited by the International Institute for Religious Freedom.




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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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  1. North Korea: Defector confirms Kim Jong-un using ‘Christian actors’ to portray freedom, believers ‘will be mercilessly killed’ | The Global Dispatch says:

    […] North Korea is considered the worst country to lead one’s life as a Christian, and people who are practicing the religion secretly will get severe punishment which includes beating, imprisonment and sometimes even death sentence. […]

  2. North Korean defector riddled with bullets, parasites and hepatitis B expected to survive - Outbreak News Today says:

    […] Christian persecution: North Korea tops list for 16th straight year […]

  3. North Korea battles typhoid outbreak in Ryanggang Province - Outbreak News Today says:

    […] Christian persecution: North Korea tops list for 16th straight year […]

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