Watch List 2022: Over 360 Million Christians Face ‘High Levels of Persecution’

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 14: A supporter of Egypt's Coptic Christian community shouts during a protest near the United Nations against the Egyptian government's treatment of its Christian minority December 14, 2010 in New York City. Coptic Christians are one of the oldest Christian populations in the world and …
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ROME — The year 2021 saw the worst persecution of Christians in history, according to the 2022 World Watch List released Wednesday by Open Doors.

The grim global statistics highlight how more Christians face violent aggression because of their faith than any other religious group, with over 360 million Christians living in places “where they experience high levels of persecution and discrimination.”

Over the course of the past year, an astonishing 5,898 Christians were killed for their faith, the Watch List reveals, while 6,175 believers were detained without trial, arrested, sentenced or imprisoned and 3,829 Christians were abducted.

The killing of Christians in 2021 increased by nearly one quarter (24 percent) over the 2020 figure of 4,761 — which was already extraordinarily high — meaning that now more than 16 Christians die every day for their faith in Jesus.

Along with the personal violence against Christians, 5,110 churches and other Christian buildings were attacked or profaned during the year as well, Open Doors found.

Open Doors publishes its World Watch List every January, chronicling how many followers of Jesus are targeted, discriminated against, persecuted, and attacked for their faith around the globe.

For the first time since it began publishing its Watch List in 2002, Open Doors ranked the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan as the most dangerous country for Christians to live.

Afghanistan was already ranked no. 2 in the 2021 Watch List, but after the Taliban takeover of the country in August 2021, the risk of Christians being discovered has increased, since the Taliban controls every aspect of government and has access to key information on its citizens.

In Afghanistan, Christians are seen as traitors to Islam. The country is 99 percent Muslim, with some 90 percent Sunni and the other 9.7 percent Shia.

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or North Korea, on the other hand, was dislodged by Afghanistan and now occupies the no. 2 slot of the 50 nations where it is most dangerous to be a Christian. The mere possession of a Christian Bible in North Korea is grounds for arrest, torture, and life imprisonment in a labor camp, which means a death sentence.

Disturbingly, in eight of the top ten nations for most severe Christian persecution the majority religion is Islam. Four of the top ten countries are in Africa, four are in Asia, and two are in the Middle East.

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