Year after year, Open Doors has reported on the decline of religious freedom for Christians worldwide—measuring persecution through government restrictions, social pressures, and outright violence.
“In the north and Middle Belt of Nigeria … at least 3,700 Christians were killed for their faith—almost double the number of a year ago (an estimated 2,000)—with villages completely abandoned by Christians forced to flee, as their armed attackers then move in to settle, with impunity,” wrote World Watch Monitor in its analysis of the list. The news service noted that “of the 4,136 deaths for Christian faith that the List reports, Nigeria alone accounts for about 90% (3,731).”
Overall, 1 in 6 African Christians now experience high levels of persecution for their faith, according to Open Doors researchers.
The latest World Watch List indicates that religious freedom restrictions have also become more widespread, affecting 1 in 9 Christians worldwide. An estimated 245 million Christians in the 50 countries on this year’s rankings experience high levels of persecution compared to 215 million last year.
Of the 150 countries monitored by Open Doors, 73 now exhibit high to extreme levels of persecution; last year, only 58 countries showed the same. “[In 2019], 11 countries score highly enough to fit into the ‘extreme’ category for the level of persecution of Christians,” noted World Watch Monitor. “It was the same last year, but five years ago, only North Korea was in that category.”
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