Christians remain a highly persecuted religious minority in many countries around the world, the latest report by the Open Doors charitable organization has revealed.
The mission’s 2023 report showed Islamic regimes to be the most hostile to minority Christian groups, followed by communist countries. However, it is worth noting many European nations and U.S. states have placed barriers on the expression of Christian beliefs in the public domain.
In the 50 countries covered by the report in one year, a total of 5,621 Christians were killed just for practicing their faith. This relates to the period from Oct. 1, 2021, to Sep. 30, 2022.
Of the 760 million Christians residing in the same 50 countries, a total of 360 million are suffering serious and continuous persecution.
Open Doors defines persecution not only as physical violence and murder, but also as the destruction of property, discrimination in the workplace and in education, and being forced to leave their territories.
At the top of the list of offenders is North Korea, with Somalia, Yemen, and Eritrea just a few points behind. North Korea is the most closed country on earth and one that oppresses all religions; however, Open Doors estimates there are still 300,000 Christians in the country practicing their faith in secret.
The East African nation of Somalia has been in disarray for the last 30 years, and Islam is the only religion allowed to exist in the country. Fundamentalist Islamists are also in control of Yemen. Eritrea, however, is not an Islamic state, and yet, Protestant Christians and opponents of the government are persecuted there. Muslim states such as Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, and Sudan are also in the top 10, with the predominantly Hindu country of India close behind.
Outside of the top offenders, there are communist states such as China, Vietnam, Cuba, and Laos.
Even in the traditionally Catholic Nicaragua, Colombia, and Mexico, there are numerous reports of persecution.
The Open Doors organization itself has been around since 1955 and has a backstory involving Poland.
A Dutch missionary began to help Christians behind the Iron Curtain by smuggling in bibles to Poland. He had visited the country in the 1950s and learned of the persecution suffered by Catholics. He later also smuggled bibles into the USSR. In 1981, Open Doors smuggled a million bibles into China as part of the “Project Pearl” mission. A few years later, the organization delivered a million bibles to the Russian Orthodox Church.
The organization is present in 30 countries around the world, and the Polish chapter of the organization was established in 2010.