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The 5 most dangerous countries to be a Christian in 2018

  • JOE CARTER

According to The Pew Research Center, over 75% of the world's population (over 215 million believers) live in areas with severe religious restrictions. 


Also, according to the United States Department of State, Christians in more than 60 countries face persecution from their governments or surrounding neighbors simply because of their belief in Jesus Christ.

Christian persecution is any hostility experienced from the world as a result of one's identification as a Christian. From verbal harassment to hostile feelings, attitudes and actions, Christians in areas with severe religious restrictions pay a heavy price for their faith.   Beatings, physical torture, confinement, isolation, rape, severe punishment, imprisonment, slavery, discrimination in education and employment, and even death are just a few examples of the persecution they experience on a daily basis.

According to The Pew Research Center, over 75% of the world’s population lives in areas with severe religious restrictions (and many of these people are Christians).  Also, according to the United States Department of State, Christians in more than 60 countries face persecution from their governments or surrounding neighbors simply because of their belief in Jesus Christ.

Every year Open Doors publishes the World Watch List to highlight the plight of persecuted Christians around the world. The list represents believers "who are arrested, harassed, tortured — even killed — for their faith." The list measures the degree of freedom a Christian has to live out their faith in five spheres of life (private, family, community, national, and church) plus a sixth sphere measuring the degree of violence.

Here are the top five countries listed by Open Doors as being the most dangerous for Christians:

handopendoors1. North Korea

Leader: Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un

Government: Communist Dictatorship

Population: 25,405,000 (300,000 Christians)

Main Religion: Atheism, Traditional Beliefs

Persecution Level: Extreme

Source of Persecution: Communist Oppression, Dictatorial Paranoia

Comment: "If Christians are discovered, no matter if they are heirs of the Christian communities from before the Korean War or found the Christian faith in other ways — e.g. during the great famine in the 1990s (which caused tens of thousands of citizens to seek help in China) — not only are they deported to labor camps as political criminals or even killed on the spot, their families will share their fate as well."

2. Afghanistan

Leader: President Ashraf Ghani

Government: Republic

Population: 34,169,000 (thousands of Christians)

Main Religion: Islam

Persecution Level: Extreme

Source of Persecution: Islamic Oppression, Organized Corruption and Crime

Comment: "Because all Christians in Afghanistan are essentially converts, they are unable to express their faith, even in private. In many cases, upon being discovered, these converts are considered insane for leaving Islam. If they cannot be convinced to return to their former faith, they are sometimes committed to psychiatric institutions."

3. Somalia

Leader: President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed

Government: Federal Parliamentary Republic

Population: 14,320,000 (a few hundred Christians)

Main Religion: Islam

Persecution Level: Extreme

Source of Persecution: Islamic Extremism, Ethical Antagonism

Comment: "Upon discovery, Christians are often killed on the spot. Al-Shabaab holds to the strict Islamic doctrine of Wahhabism and advocates for Sharia law in every facet of life for Somalis. While al-Shabaab poses a severe threat to Christians in Somalia, believers are also persecuted by their families and the community at large."

4. Sudan

Leader: President Omar al-Bashir

Government: Presidential Republic

Population: 42,166,000 (1,996,000 Christians)

Main Religion: Islam

Persecution Level: Extreme

Source of Persecution: Islamic Oppression, Dictatorial paranoia

Comment: "The government regularly arrests and intimidates Christian leaders and has demanded on at least one occasion that leadership be handed over to a government-supported committee. When interacting with Sudanese Muslims, Christians must be extremely cautious, as any mention of their faith can be construed as an 'act that encourages apostasy against Islam.'"

5. Pakistan

Leader: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi

Government: Republic

Population: 196,744,000 (3,938,000 Christians)

Main Religion: Islam

Persecution Level: Extreme

Source of Persecution: Islamic Oppression, Organized Corruption and Crime

Comment: "Churches that are engaged in outreach and youth work face the worst of the persecution, although all Christians suffer from institutionalized discrimination. Occupations deemed as 'dirty' and 'shameful' are reserved for Christians, and many believers are victims of bonded labor."

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Acknowledgement

carterJoe Carter. "The 5 most dangerous countries to be a Christian in 2018." Acton Institute Powerblog (January 11, 2018). 

Reprinted with permission of the Acton Institute Powerblog. 

The Author

carter1Joe Carter is a Senior Editor at the Acton Institute. Joe also serves as an editor at the The Gospel Coalition, a communications specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College. He is the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible and co-author of How to Argue like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator

Copyright © 2018 Joe Carter
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