Christian persecution across the globe has reached a new high in modern times and the worse may be yet to come, according to a report from the Christian watchdog group Open Doors. The group issued on Wednesday their latest World Watch List, which ranks countries based on their hostility to Christians. They said their research indicated worldwide persecution of Christians was particularly rampant last year and only increasing.
Today, Open Doors released its annual World Watch List, which ranks the top 50 countries where it is most dangerous and difficult to be a Christian. This year, the threshold was higher for a country to make the list, indicating that worldwide levels of persecution have increased. Topping the 2015 list for the 13th consecutive year is North Korea. Africa saw the most rapid growth of persecution, while the Middle East saw targeted attacks, resulting in a mass exodus of Christians.
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Approximately 100 million Christians are persecuted worldwide, making them one of the most persecuted religious groups in the world. Islamic extremism is the main source of persecution in 40 of the 50 countries on the 2015 World Watch List. While persecution can take many forms, Christians throughout the world risk imprisonment, torture, rape and even death as result of their faith.
"Even Christian-majority states are experiencing unprecedented levels of exclusion, discrimination and violence," said David Curry, president and CEO of Open Doors USA. "The 2015 World Watch List reveals that a staggering number of Christians are becoming victims of intolerance and violence because of their faith. They are being forced to be more secretive about their faith."
Open Doors found that both violent and non-violent persecution is on the rise throughout the world.
Christian persecution is defined as any hostility experienced as a result of one’s identification with Christ. Recent examples include imprisonment, torture, beheadings, rape, and loss of home and assets.
While violent persecution is most often reported by media, nonviolent persecution is also on the rise. Violence has increased dramatically in Iraq, Syria and Nigeria, but Christians in other countries are experiencing persecution in their personal lives through family, community and national spheres of life. Christians are often ostracized by family exclusion, the loss of a job or even rejection from a community.
"The goal of the World Watch List is to keep Christian persecution on the radar of those enjoying the privileges of freedom," said Curry. "The perpetrators of persecution need to know that the world is watching and stands in opposition to persecution. And for the persecuted, we want them to know that they are not forgotten."