Open Doors, which campaigns on behalf of persecuted Christians, says persecution of Christians is increasing across the world and that Christians in Asia most likely to risk imprisonment, torture, and martyrdom.
It is hardest to be a Christian in North Korea, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, according to the latest research by Open Doors. It reports a rise in attacks by Hindu extremists in India and tough new laws in China.
Open Doors says that 245 million Christians experience high levels of persecution in 73 countries around the world, up from 215 million in 58 countries last year.
“Our research uncovers a shocking increase in the persecution of Christians globally,” said Henrietta Blyth, CEO of Open Doors UK and Ireland. “In China our figures indicate persecution is the worst it’s been in more than a decade — alarmingly, some church leaders are saying it’s the worst since the Cultural Revolution ended in 1976.
“Worldwide, our data reveals that 13.9 percent more Christians are experiencing [higher] levels of persecution than last year.”
Open Doors’ study identified North Korea as the most difficult place to be a Christian for the 18th year running. Religion is outlawed in the secretive state because citizens are taught there is no higher authority than the Kim family.
Afghanistan is ranked as the second-toughest country for Christians, with thousands living there forced to keep their faith secret.
Those who are discovered to be practicing Christianity face being sent to mental hospitals by loved ones because of the belief that no sane person would leave Islam, according to Open Doors. They also face being attacked or killed by family members, the charity said, or murdered by extremist groups like the Taliban.
The Open Doors study ranked India as the 10th most-difficult place to practice Christianity in 2019, with Christians facing “horrific levels of violence from extremists.”