4 Trends In Persecution For 2018

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Image: Deserted road in North Korea.
By Beth Westwood | 19 April 2018

It’s estimated that over 215 million Christians in the World Watch List countries are persecuted for their faith in Jesus. That’s one in every 12 believers worldwide. 

This article featured in Frontline Faith Magazine.

For almost 30 years, Open Doors have released the annual World Watch List showing the top 50 countries where it’s hardest to follow Jesus. Here are four trends from the 2018 World Watch List: 

1. A Close Score

North Korea has ranked number one on the World Watch List for over a decade and this year was no exception. However, this year Afghanistan has come in at a close second behind North Korea. It’s the closest any country has been since 2002. 

In Afghanistan, the Taliban and the Islamic State control over 40% of the country. It’s incredibly difficult to be a believer. Christians are sometimes thought to be insane for leaving Islam and can end up in psychiatric wards.

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Image: Muslims in Afghanistan greet those returning from Haj.

2. Islamic Oppression

Islamic oppression is the main form of persecution for two-thirds of all countries on the World Watch List. Eight of them are from the top 10. 

There are different forms of Islamic oppression. An Islamic government can enforce laws that limit religious freedom, or Islamic extremists groups can attack churches and communities. While the oppression looks very different in each country, this is a common trend among the top 50.

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Image: Group of boys walking around a mosque in Oman.


3. Increased Violence

Persecution is measured by two categories, violence and pressure. While Pakistan ranked fifth overall, it scored highest as the most violent place for Christians in the world. 

In December, nine Christians were killed when two gunmen wearing explosive vests stormed a church in Quetta City. Attacks occur year-round, increasing around religious holidays like Easter and Christmas.

Image: Attacked church in Quetta, Pakistan.

The top five most violent countries ranked in order are Pakistan, Nigeria, Central African Republic, India and Egypt.

4. Rise Of Radical Hinduism

India has risen seven places in the last two years. A major increase in violence against Christians is set to continue. RSS, a Hindu radical group, has announced an end date for the church in the country. They have declared that by the end of 2021, they will remove Christianity from India. 

India 2014 0430102131 2
Image: A Sunday church service in India.

Nepal didn’t feature on the World Watch List in 2017, however, this year the country is ranked 25. Nepal is one of the only Hindu majority countries in the world. Radical Hindu’s are striving to see Nepal reinstated as a completely Hindu kingdom again. 

The World Watch List was created in 1991 as a response to the fall of Communism and the Berlin Wall. It was developed as a tool to discover where persecution was, and where it was growing. 

The persecuted church need our support and prayers. However, we also need to learn from them and stand together in the Great Commission to see all people know Jesus, the Saviour of the world. 

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