REPORT: Number of Christians Murdered for Faith Rose 60% in 2020

Open Doors 2021 Interactive World Watch Map

“Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you.” 1 John 3:13

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Christian persecution is at a record high globally, according to religion freedom watchdog organization Open Doors in announcing its 2021 World Watch List. It reports more than 340 million Christians now suffer high levels of persecution for their faith—even for simply reading the Bible—representing 1-in-8 Christians worldwide, 1-in-6 in Africa, 2-out-of-5 in Asia, and 1-in-12 in Latin America.

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Bible Verses for the International Days of Prayer for the Persecuted Church]

In other words, on average, every day, 13 Christians worldwide are killed because of their faith; every day, 12 churches or Christian buildings are attacked; every day, 12 Christians are unjustly arrested, detained, or imprisoned; and every day, 5 Christians are abducted for faith-related reasons.

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Pray for Persecuted Christians]

For the first time in the 29-year history of the World Watch List, every country in the top 50 is ranked as experiencing very high or extreme levels of persecution.

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Violence Against Christians Surges; More Than 1,000% Increase in Attacks on Churches Since 2018]

Due to ongoing and increasing surveillance and censorship of religious minorities, China re-entered the top 20 for the first time in a decade. New data show China’s surveillance state is used to persecute Christians and other religious minorities. The Chinese Communist Party is not only normalizing these technologies within their borders, but exporting them to authoritarian regimes around the world.

“This goes beyond where you’re going to church or where you’re going to temple, to what it is you’re writing about on your phone,” said Dr. Chris Meserole, director of research and policy of the Brookings Artificial Intelligence and Emerging Technology Initiative. “There’s no country that can match the sheer scale of surveillance technologies that China has developed and also deployed.”

“He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.” 2 Corinthians 1:10-11

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Christian Genocide in Africa: An Interview with Johnnie Moore and Rabbi Abraham Cooper]

In 2020, extremist attacks spread further throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, from Nigeria and Cameroon to Burkina Faso, Mali, and beyond. In Nigeria alone, 10 Christians a day are murdered on average due to their religious beliefs. As the total number of Christians killed for their faith rose 60% for the year—from 2,983 registered cases (WWL 2020) to 4,761 (WWL 2021)—91% of the violent killings for religious reasons occurred in Africa.

2021 World Watch List Top 10

  1. North Korea
  2. Afghanistan
  3. Somalia
  4. Libya
  5. Pakistan
  6. Eritrea
  7. Yemen
  8. Iran
  9. Nigeria
  10. India

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REPORT: Number of Christians Murdered for Faith Rose 60% in 2020