One in Every Three Christian Asians Experiences High Persecution
Annual Watch List Exposes Worst Religious-Persecution Offenders
The 2019 Open Doors World Watch List reveals new persecution numbers for Christian Asians. With an increase in religious persecution, the research reports that one in every three Christian Asians experiences high persecution due to their faith. This is an increase from last year's data in which one in every four Christians experienced high persecution. More than 403 million Asians consider themselves to be Christians. Overall, Open Doors World Watch List estimates that more than 245 million Christians now experience high, very high or extreme persecution, an increase from 215 million in 2018.
North Korea continues to the top the list for the 18th year in a row since 2002.
Pakistan continues to be one of the most violent countries for a Christian. With the acquittal of Asia Bibi, days of mass protest and disruption erupted across Pakistan as radical Islamic groups demanded for the judges who ruled in favor of Bibi and for Bibi herself to be killed. Even with the acquittal and her freedom, Bibi still fears for her life and is unable to leave Pakistan to seek asylum in a safe country.
The situation in India continues to rise as the country enters the top 10 list for the first time. Hindu nationalists fueled a crackdown on Christians and churches, while promoting the widespread oppression of religious minorities. The situation has deteriorated rapidly in the last several years, as non-Hindus are increasingly regarded as outsiders in their own country. In some areas, this has translated to brutal violence against Hindus who have converted to Christianity. The situation in India is volatile and religious minorities in particular face extremely dangerous situations, with mobs of violence breaking out and demanding death sentences.
China's dramatic rise 16 spots from last year's ranking is one of the highest jumps on the list—from No. 43 in 2018 to No. 27 in 2019. The heightened power of the Chinese government is being wielded to remove any challenges to the absolute authority of President Xi Jinping, even if those challenges are related to personal faith in a god other than the State. New regulations and government crackdowns have made open worship for unregistered churches increasingly risky, particularly in certain regions of the country. Pastor Wang Yi's recent arrest, along with some 150 Christians, is a recent indicator of the expanding level of control and religious persecution.
In its 27th year, the list—which is the world's only assessment of religious persecution based upon indepth, rigorous analysis of on-the-ground, first-person research—remains a global indicator of where human and religious rights are being violated, and those countries most vulnerable to societal unrest and destabilization.
"Open Doors continues to see ominous persecution trends against Christians," said David Curry, president and CEO of Open Doors USA. "We are watching China and India very closely. The distressing impact of billions of people living in an environment in which the government oppresses freedom of religion is unraveling day by day as millions of Christians are being attacked, imprisoned or killed. Open Doors will continue to walk alongside these Christians and advocate on their behalf for human rights we take for granted in America."
- North Korea
Persecution at a Glance
Christians remain one of the most persecuted religious groups in the world. While persecution of Christians takes many forms, it is defined as any hostility experienced as a result of identification with Christ. Christians throughout the world continue to risk imprisonment, loss of home and assets, torture, beheadings, rape, and even death, as a result of their faith.
- Interviews with David Curry, president and CEO of Open Doors USA
- Interviews with persecuted Christians from India, Iraq, Nigeria and South Asia
- View the complete 2019 Open Doors World Watch List
- View all news releases overarching trends, Russia, Africa and the Middle East
The Open Doors World Watch List is the only comprehensive, annual survey of the state of religious liberty for Christians around the world. From Nov. 1, 2017, to Oct. 31, 2018, researchers measured the degree of freedom a Christian has to live out his or her faith in five spheres of life—private, family, community, national and church, plus a sixth category measuring the degree of violence. Points are given for each incident of persecution, and the total points provide the ranking for each country. For more information on the methodology of the Open Doors World Watch List, please visit 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.