50 Most Dangerous Countries to Follow Jesus

Every year, Open Doors publishes a list of 50 countries where it is the most dangerous to follow Jesus. Called the World Watch List (WWL), research is done in over 65 countries through conducting interviews with believers in those countries. The report is then audited by an independent organisation specialised in religious freedom – the International Institute for Religious Freedom.

In the 2017 World Watch List are 215 million Christians who have been highly persecuted for Christ in one way or another from 1 November 2015 to 31 October 2016; and it is more than likely that they will continue to suffer in 2017. The list represents each of these believers who have decided that there is no turning back from following Jesus, no matter what the cost may be. The list also gives us a glimpse into Jesus’ words when He said that the world will hate the disciples.

2017 – Asian Countries on the Rise

When speaking about Christian persecution, countries like North Korea and those in the Middle East are what comes to mind immediately. However, Open Doors has found that in recent years, anti-Christian sentiment has been on the rise in South and Southeast Asia, particularly in India, Bangladesh, Laos, Bhutan, and Vietnam.

Persecution in four of these countries are all motivated by the same stimulus: religious nationalism, the desire to conquer the nation for one’s religion.

“A stand-out trend is that religious nationalism is driving the Asian countries up the list,” said Dr. Ron Boyd-MacMillan, Director for Strategic Research at Open Doors International. “It is most visible in India. India is at its highest position on the World Watch List ever.”

The Top 10

Once again, North Korea tops the WWL. The country’s dictatorial regime is still unmatched in its hostility towards religion of any kind, with Christians risking a life of hard labour and death for themselves and their families, if discovered.

Yemen is a newcomer to the top 10 with a sharp increase in persecution of Christians. Both the Shia and Sunni Muslims, who are fighting against each other, are extremely intolerant of Christians, especially those converted from Islam.

On the Whole

On the average, Christian persecution has increased globally when compared to 2016.

Islamic oppression remains the most common persecution engine, and countries from the Middle East and North Africa still take up the most spots on the WWL. In Africa, Islamic radicalisation is becoming increasingly mainstream. Even in Kenya, a Christian-majority country, pastors have to hire private security firms to man metal detectors at their churches.