Published: January 27, 2021  Updated: January 27, 2021 at 7:21 am EST

Every year Open Doors USA releases a report that details Christian persecution the world over, and this year – is the worst year on record. According to their eighty-four question matrix, forty-five of the top Fifty countries made the mark of “Very High” levels of persecution. However, according to their CEO, the list is not about persecution but resilience.

Currently, in the hyper-Human Rights world of 2021, there are nearly 309 Million Christians who live in conditions where their belief in Jesus can cost them their lives. The faithful’s persecution is so bad that every day, thirteen Christians worldwide are killed because of their belief. In addition, every day, twelve churches or Christian buildings are attacked. Also, every day twelve Christians are unjustly arrested or imprisoned.

“You might think the [list] is all about oppression. … But the [list] is really all about resilience,” stated David Curry, president, and CEO of Open Doors USA, introducing the report released today.

“The numbers of God’s people who are suffering should mean the Church is dying—that Christians are keeping quiet, losing their faith, and turning away from one another,” he stated. “But that’s not what’s happening. Instead, in living color, we see the words of God recorded in the prophet Isaiah: ‘I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert’” (Isa. 43:19, ESV).

Whether by government or by state-sponsored religion, the number of Christians who are persecuted rose from 260 million in the 2019 report to 309 million this year alone. That’s a massive difference of 49 million persons who identify as Christians. 309 million people, nearly the entire population of the United States, are suffering under prosecutable conditions.

What is driving Christian persecution so high?
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According to Open Doors, it’s based on the three key factors below.

  • “COVID-19 acted as a catalyst for religious persecution through relief discrimination, forced conversion, and as justification for increasing surveillance and censorship.”
  • “Extremist attacks opportunistically spread further throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, from Nigeria and Cameroon to Burkina Faso, Mali, and beyond.”
  • “Chinese censorship systems continue to propagate and spread to emerging surveillance states.”

While we know Christian persecution will only increase, it is rather likely that another 31 million could be added from the 24 nations that fall just outside the top 50—such as Cuba, Sri Lanka, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE)—for a ratio of 1 in 8 Christians worldwide facing persecution. This includes 1 in 6 believers in Africa and 2 out of 5 in Asia.

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One of the most important notes on the Top 50 report is that China joined the top 20 worst nations for Christian persecution in nearly a decade due to the “ongoing and increasing surveillance and censorship of Christians and other religious minorities.”

Out of the top 50 countries;

  • 12 have “extreme” levels of persecution, and 38 have “very high” levels. Another 4 nations outside the top 50 also qualify as “very high”: Cuba, Sri Lanka, United Arab Emirates, and Niger.
  • 19 are in Africa (6 in North Africa), 14 are in Asia, 10 are in the Middle East, 5 are in Central Asia, and 2 are in Latin America.
  • 34 have Islam as a main religion, 4 have Buddhism, 2 have Hinduism, 1 has atheism, 1 has agnosticism—and 10 have Christianity.

Lastly, Four countries dropped off the list: Sri Lanka (formerly No. 30), Russia (formerly No. 46), United Arab Emirates (formerly No. 47), and Niger (formerly No. 50).

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