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These are the Top 20 Countries That are Most Dangerous for Christians

These are the Top 20 Countries That are Most Dangerous for Christians
Christians around the world are suffering persecution for the name of Christ. For many of us in the Western world, Jesus' warning that we will suffer for believing in Him seems only remotely applicable. Most of us live lives of comfort and ease, but let us not forget that our brothers and sisters in places like Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Libya, and North Korea face incredible persecution.

And let us not only remember their plight, but let us lift them up in prayer, write them letters, and bring their concerns to our church families. Let them know they are not alone.

We hope that through reading this list your commitment to praying for the persecution church worldwide will be renewed. Pray for believers to stand firm in the faith and pray that God would soften the hearts of these anti-Christian regimes and that breakthroughs would happen.

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  • 20. Laos

    20. Laos

    Laos, a small country in southeast Asia, bordering Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, and China. It only has 225,000 Christians, while the majority of its citizens follow Buddhism. 

    This country suffers from the totalitarian system of Communist and post-Communist oppression. Christians are some of the first to be targeted by this government system.  

    "Communist authorities heavily monitor all religious activities, including those of registered Christian churches. House churches are forced to operate illegally, in secret. Christianity, in particular, is considered a Western influence and especially dangerous," reports Open Doors in their 2018 World Watch List report.


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  • 19. Turkmenistan

    19. Turkmenistan

    Turkmenistan is not often in the news, but it is located in the Middle East where there is often conflict. It it above Iran and borders several other "stan" countries.

    The dominant religion in the country is Islam and the government is a harsh dictatorship.

    Open Doors notes: "Turkmenistan is extremely repressive for religious minorities. The police, secret services and local authorities monitor religious activities, raid nonregistered churches and attend church services. The Islamic culture makes life for converts to Christianity particularly difficult."


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  • 18. Vietnam

    18. Vietnam

    Similar to Laos, Vietnam suffers under an oppressive Communist/Post-Communist regime. The main religion is Buddhism and Christian converts are pressured by the government and their families.

    "The government persecutes the Christian minority. Ethnic group leaders exclude Christians and see them as traitors of their cultural identity. Historically Christian communities generally have more freedom—but, if they become politically active, they are targeted by the authorities and can be arrested," states Open Doors.


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  • 17. Egypt

    17. Egypt often reports on the persecution against Christians in Egypt. There have been several significant attacks against Christians and churches in Egypt in recent months. Islamic extremists often target Christians, who make up just 10 percent of the population.

    Open Doors notes, "Egyptian Christians suffer from persecution in various ways. Those with Muslim backgrounds face enormous pressure from immediate and extended families to return to Islam. Severe restrictions on building or securing places for communal worship prevent Christians from congregating, in addition to hostility and violence toward believers who do manage to gather. Christians, particularly women, also face discrimination and abuse in their workplaces and the public square."


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  • 16. Uzbekistan

    16. Uzbekistan

    Converts to Christianity in Uzbekistan face severe pressures from the culture, their families, and the government to conform to the dominate religion of Islam. The government is heavily authoritiatian and Christianity is not well-received.

    "The general Islamic culture makes life for converts to Christianity particularly difficult. The police, secret services and mahalla local authorities monitor religious activities, and state authorities regularly raid non-registered churches," reports Open Doors.


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  • 15. Syria

    15. Syria

    Syria's citizens have been caught in a civil war that has raged on for nearly six years. While government factions and rebels wage war, many of Syria's Christians pay the price. Most Christians in the country belong to Catholic or Orthodox churches. Although Syria is still in the top 20, the good news is that last year it was at number six for Christian persecution.

    Open Doors notes, "The extended family is the main source of persecution for converts from Islam. For all types of Christianity, Islamic militant groups are a clear threat."


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  • 14. Nigeria

    14. Nigeria

    The Boko Haram terrorist group, as well as militant Islamic Fulani herdsman often attack Christians in Nigeria. Islam is the dominant religion in the north of the country, while Christianity is dominant in the south. This dynamic creates added tension and often results in Christian persecution. 

    Christian converts living in the north also face persecution from their own families. 


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  • 13. Maldives

    13. Maldives

    The Maldives, an series of beautiful islands located in the Indian Ocean, south of India, are probably not a country you hear much about. The total population is only 376,000, and of those, there are only a few thousand Christians.

    According to Open Doors, "The government of the Maldives insists all citizens be Muslims. In effect, there is no religious freedom, except for expatriate Christians who are only allowed to practice their faith in utmost privacy, behind closed doors and strictly monitored. Radical Islamic preachers and clerics exert socio-religious controland influence others to do the same, making it impossible for Christians, especially converts, to practice their faith without heavy monitoring or punishment by government authorities."


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  • 12. Saudi Arabia

    12. Saudi Arabia

    Islamic oppression is widespread in Saudi Arabia. Open Doors reports that Christians are treated by second-class citizens by the government and by many of their fellow citizens. They are are not allowed to have their own places of worship. Christians in this country need prayer to remain strong in the faith despite the pressures all around them to deny Christ.


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  • 11. India

    11. India has often reported on the persecution Christians face, largely from Hindu extremists. 

    "These radicals are intent on cleansing the nation of both Islam and Christianity, employing violence to this end. The government continues to look away when religious minorities are attacked, indicating violence may only increase," reports Open Doors.

    Although India is not a dictatorship but rather a Republic, oppression is still widespread.


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  • 10. Iran

    10. Iran

    Islam is the official religion in the country of Iran where Christianity is considered a Western influence and a threat to Islam. Christian converts from Islam face especially severe persecution in Iran.

    According to Open Doors, "In contrast to the neighboring Arab Gulf countries, the main threat for Christians comes from the government in Iran. The Iranian regime defines Iran as an Islamic State based on Shia Islam. Christians and other minorities are seen as an unwelcome distraction from this plan."


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  • 9. Yemen

    9. Yemen

    Yemen is located in the Middle East, below Saudi Arabia. It is predominately Muslim, with Christians making up less than one percent of the population. Yemen is also the poorest country in the Middle East. 

    "Government officials create and maintain a strict Islamic system that treats all nationals as Muslims. In many areas, the Saudi-led military intervention has created power vacuums, allowing groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda affiliates to expand their operations and even kill Christians. Converts from Islam to Christianity suffer from violence and pressure from their extended family as well as tribal leaders if their new faith is discovered," reports Open Doors.


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  • 8. Iraq

    8. Iraq

    In Iraq, Iran's neighbor, Christians face similar threats from Islam. There has been a Christian presence in Iraq since ancient times, but in modern times the country has been dominated by Islamic extremism. Hundreds of thousands of Christians fled Iraq as refugees, but as the Islamic State's territory shrinks, some are beginning to return

    "In Iraq, numerous groups contribute to the persecution of Christians. Radical movements such as ISIS often target Christians and other religious minorities for kidnappings and killings. Government officials, both national and local, have threatened Christians, “encouraging” them to leave the country. Christians from Muslim backgrounds face serious pressure from their clans, families and communities, who will sometimes go so far as to try to kill them," says Open Doors.


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  • 7. Libya

    7. Libya

    Libya is new to the top 10 worst countries for Christian persecution this year. Christians in this African nation also suffer from oppression by an Islamic government. 

    Open Doors notes, "Christians in this country are a small minority. A state of anarchy and civil war results in impunity for Islamic militants and organized criminal groups engaged in the persecution of Christians."


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  • 6. Eritrea

    6. Eritrea

    The country of Eritrea, located in eastern Africa on the Red Sea, is a small country and not often talked about, but Christians living here face severe persecution. Religious freedom is a foreign concept and many Eritrean Christians have fled the country. Christians actually make up nearly half of the population in Eritrea, but that doesn't mean they don't face persecution. 

    "Both the government and the cultural climate in Eritrea contribute to the persecution of Christians in this country in the Horn of Africa," notes Open Doors. "President Afwerki’s regime is known for absolute authoritarianism. The
    arrest, harassment and murder of Christians accused of being agents of the West is commonplace."


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  • 5. Pakistan

    5. Pakistan

    Pakistani Christians are often persecuted under the country's strict blasphemy laws which prescribe harsh punishments for anyone who disrespects Islam. Christian converts from Islam are often ostracized and attacked. 

    "Much of the Christian persecution in Pakistan comes from radical Islamic groups that flourish under the favor of political parties, the army and the government. These radical Islamic groups run thousands of Islamic education centers where youth are taught and encouraged to persecute religious minorities likeChristians. However, the main sources of danger for Christians often come from their own families, since conversion from Islam is seen as cause for shame," according to Open Doors.


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  • 4. Sudan

    4. Sudan

    Sudan has been on the World Watch List every year for 25 years and nearly always ranks within the top 20 countries. 

    According to Open Doors, "Persecution comes from the government and radical Muslims and is systematic and reminiscent of ethnic cleansing. Under the authoritarian rule of President al-Bashir and his party, there is no rule of law in Sudan; press and media laws are restrictive, and freedom of expression has been highly curtailed."


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  • 3. Somalia

    3. Somalia

    Somalia, which is on Africa's eastern tip, below Eritrea, is predominantly Muslim. According to the Pew Research Center, 99.8 percent of Somalians are Muslim. The small number of Christians in Somalia are often marginalized and persecuted.

    Like Sudan, Somalia has been on the World Watch List for 25 years. Islam is firmly established in the country and it is difficult for Christianity to take ahold.

    "Islam is the state religion and society expects all Somalis to be Muslim. Imams in mosques and madrasas as well as leaders of al-Shabab state publicly that there is no room for Christians in the country."


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  • 2. Afghanistan

    2. Afghanistan

    In Afghanistan, Christian converts also face harsh persecution. Families, friends, and communities often unite to exert pressure on the converts. Open Doors reports that some Christian converts are even forced to go to mental hospitals due to the belief that no one in their right mind would convert to Christianity.

    Since Islam is viewed as a unifying force in the country, anyone who defies Islam is severely persecuted. Additionally, "Because all Christians in Afghanistan are essentially converts, they are unable to express their faith, even in private. Converts can experience loss of personal property and businesses, beatings, and even death at the hands of their own family members and communities."


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  • 1. North Korea

    1. North Korea

    The country where Christian persecution is most severe of anywhere in the world is North Korea. It is the only country in the top 10 that is not Muslim. Instead, North Korea's totalitariam regime makes practicing Christian faith very risky. It is estimated that thousands of Christians are enslaved in North Korea's labor camps. Reports have surfaced of the brutal torture some Christians face, such as being crucified or burned.

    Open Doors reports: "The primary driver of persecution in North Korea is the state. For three generations, everything in the country focused on idolizing the leading Kim family. Christians are seen as hostile elements in society that have to be eradicated. Due to the constant indoctrination permeating the whole country, neighbors and even family members are highly watchful and report any suspicious religious activity to the authorities."


    Information courtesy of Open Doors USA.

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    Publication date: January 19, 2018