New List of Nations On the Cusp of the Open Doors World Watch List
Rumblings in Russia and Cuba Create New Cause for Concern
In January, Open Doors USA announced its 2016 World Watch List, a compilation of the 50 most dangerous and difficult countries in the world to be a Christian. Throughout the year the organization closely monitors Christian persecution and now, given the global rise of anti-Christian discrimination and violence, is releasing a new mid-year report listing nations not on this year’s Open Doors World Watch List but where persecution against Christians is significant.
“Open Doors continues to see the level of persecution rise and spread across the globe. Governments that are tamping down on religious freedom of expression overall are generally causing Christians to be targeted, while Islamic extremism is pushing its limits to reach all parts of Africa and Asia,” said David Curry, president and CEO of Open Doors USA. “The threshold for making the Open Doors World Watch List has moved higher and higher in recent years. Many of the countries on today’s On the Cusp list have persecution scores that would have qualified them to make the World Watch List just a few years ago.”
The 15 nations making the World Watch List: On the Cusp rankings are from four continents. Nine of the nations are in Africa, an area where radical Islam has risen dramatically in recent years. Three of the nations are located in Asia, two in Europe—including the political giant Russia, and one (Cuba) is from North America.
Given the changing relations between the U.S. and both Cuba and Russia, additional attention is being paid here in the West to changes in the religious persecution landscape in these two nations. Russia has passed numerous laws in recent years to increase state control over its citizens. One of the most problematic laws is one that imposes controls over non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Russian NGOs that receive financial support from abroad are required to register as “foreign agents,” a term once used to designate spies in the days of the USSR. In Cuba, one of the world’s few remaining communist regimes continues to restrict the rights of Christians, monitoring their activity, threatening them with imprisonment and discriminating against them in employment and educational opportunities.
Researchers calculated the top 15 nations not currently on the 2016 Open Doors World Watch List where Christians found it most dangerous and difficult to practice their faith. In order of persecution ranking, these On the Cusp nations are:
- Democratic Republic of Congo
- Sri Lanka
- Islamic Republic of Mauritania
- Russian Federation
- Ivory Coast
More than 7,000 Christians were killed worldwide for faith-related reasons in the reporting period of the 2016 Open Doors World Watch List, an increase of nearly 3,000 compared to the prior year. (This excludes North Korea, and some of Syria and Iraq, where accurate records do not exist.) More than 2,400 churches were attacked or damaged, which is more than double the number from 2015’s list.
Christians remain one of the most persecuted religious groups in the world. While persecution can take many forms, Christians throughout the world continue to risk imprisonment, torture, rape and even death as result of their faith.
Persecution at a Glance
Christian persecution is defined as any hostility experienced as a result of one’s identification with Christ. Examples include imprisonment, torture, beheadings, rape, and loss of home and assets.
Nonviolent persecution also continues to rise. Many Christians throughout the world face persecution in their personal lives through family, community and public spheres of life. Christians are often ostracized by family exclusion, the loss of a job or even rejection from a community.
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 group in the world and are oppressed in at least 60 countries. For more information, visit OpenDoorsUSA.org.