Fact Sheet: 2019 Open Doors World Watch List

The Open Doors World Watch List is the world's only comprehensive annual survey of religious liberty conditions for Christians around the world. It is a global indicator of countries where human and religious rights are being violated, and those countries most vulnerable to societal unrest and destabilization. From Nov. 1, 2017, to Oct. 31, 2018, researchers measured the degree of freedom a Christian has to live out his or her faith. Christians are one of the most victimized groups in the world, and the daily life of Christians in the nations on the Open Doors World Watch List continues to be increasingly difficult.

Open Doors World Watch List researchers define the persecution of Christians as any hostility experienced as a result of one's identification with Christ; this includes imprisonment, torture, beheadings, rape, social and familial pressure for religious beliefs, and loss of home and assets. The top findings from this year's research include the following:

  • North Korea remains the most difficult and dangerous place in the world to be a Christian for the 18th consecutive year, again ranking No. 1 on the 2019 Open Doors World Watch List.
  • This year's research revealed that more than 245 million Christians face high persecution around the world, an increase from 215 million last year.
  • One in every nine Christians in the world today experiences high, very high or extreme persecution for their faith. In Africa it is one in six with more than 110 million, and in Asia it is one in three with more than 139 million.
  • Of the 50 countries on the Open Doors World Watch List, 36 saw an increase in persecution during the reporting period.
  • Algeria, Morocco and Mauritania had the highest year-over-year increases in persecution against Christians.
  • Russian Federation and Morocco are newcomers to this year's list.
  • During the Open Doors World Watch List 2019 reporting period, 4,136 Christians were killed; 2,625 Christians were detained without trail, arrested, sentenced and imprisoned; and 1,266 churches and other Christian buildings were attacked—an increase in all three areas from last year's Open Doors World Watch List.
  • India entered the top 10 list for the first time.
  • China skyrocketed from No. 43 in 2018 to No. 27 in 2019.
  • Pakistan and Nigeria had the most violence recorded against Christians, with Central Africa Republic closely behind.
  • Islamic oppression fuels persecution in eight of the top 10 countries on the 2019 Open Doors World Watch List.
  • Iraq and Malaysia showed the most significant improvement since last year.

A complete methodology for how Open Doors World Watch List is calculated is available at OpenDoorsUSA.org.

About Open Doors USA
For more than 60 years, Open Doors USA has worked in the world's most oppressive and restrictive countries for Christians. Open Doors works to equip and encourage Christians living in dangerous circumstances with the threat of persecution and equips the Western church to advocate for the persecuted. Christians are one of the most persecuted religious groups in the world and are oppressed in at least 60 countries. For more information, visit OpenDoorsUSA.org.