2014 proved to be a particularly bad year for Christians, who were already the most persecuted religious group in the world. According to persecution watchdog group Open Doors USA, which released its annual World Watch List on Wednesday, last year had the highest level of global persecution of Christians in modern history; sadly, however, the trends suggest the worst is yet to come.
“Even Christian-majority states are experiencing unprecedented levels of exclusion, discrimination and violence,” David Curry, president and CEO of Open Doors USA, said in a press release.“The 2015 World Watch List reveals that a staggering number of Christians are becoming victims of intolerance and violence because of their faith. They are being forced to be more secretive about their faith.”
Reflective of the fact that levels of persecution around the globe have increased substantially, the group had to raise their threshold for countries to be considered for the 2014 list.
For the 13th year in a row, North Korea topped the list as the most dangerous and difficult place to be a Christian. Roughly 70,000 Christians are in prison in the communist dictatorship because of their faith. Elsewhere in Asia, conditions for Christians are worsening under Hindu fundamentalism and Islamic extremism, particularly in India, Vietnam, and Uzbekistan.
But the Middle East remains as a whole one of the most violent areas for Christians in the world, where the rise of ISIS and other Islamic fundamentalists have increased levels of persecution in Iraq and Syria. This, in turn, has led to an exodus among the group in the last decade.
Finally, in Africa, there’s been a huge escalation in persecution. “For the third year in a row, the majority of African nations on the World Watch List have increased in rank due to Islamic extremism,” the press release states. Kenya moved from No. 43 to No. 19, for example, while persecution in countries like Somalia and Sudan remained steadily severe.
The top 10 most dangerous and difficult places to be a Christian are as follows:
“The goal of the World Watch List is to keep Christian persecution on the radar of those enjoying the privileges of freedom,”said Curry. “The perpetrators of persecution need to know that the world is watching and stands in opposition to persecution. And for the persecuted, we want them to know that they are not forgotten.”
The complete World Watch List is available here.