Christain persecution showed an increase for 2020 according to a report by a ministry that has tracked it for decades.
The fear and uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 may have given extra support to those willing to justify discrimination, isolation, and violence against Christians worldwide according to Open Doors USA President and CEO David Curry.
One in eight Christians suffers persecution, but this isn't spread evenly worldwide. The top 12 countries have the most extreme reports of persecution of the 50 exposed by Open Doors in their 37th annual “World Watch List.”
North Korea tops the list for the 20th year in a row.
“Obviously the government there is very restrictive,” Curry explained to One News Now. “They want to have total control over the lives of individual citizens, and they see Christians particularly as enemies of the state – they withhold food, they imprison them if they are found with a Bible. It's a very difficult place to be.”
Nigerian Christians murdered most
Nigeria is number nine on the list, but according to Curry, Christians are murdered the most there.
“We've seen a dramatic increase in the number of Christians murdered because of it [COVID],” Curry told One News Now. “It's up to 60% over last year – and out of everybody killed, on average 13 Christians killed every day for their faith, ten of those would be in Northern Nigeria.”
“Boko Haram reigns supreme in that area and is responsible for frequent raids on Christian villages where they destroy churches, steal goods, murder people – and in many cases kidnap women and young girls,” according to One News Now reporter Charlie Butts.
Boko Haram is a radical Islamist group aligned with Iraq which holds the number 11 spot on Open Doors' list.
Radical Islamic groups often persecute Christians in seven of the top ten persecuted nations. The remaining top ten nations after North Korea are Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, Pakistan, Eritrea, Yemen, Iran, Nigeria, India.
Yet other faiths also persecute Christians within this top ten list.
India's persecution of Christians
Some in India, number ten on Open Doors' list, believe all Indians should be Hindus with no other faiths – including both Muslims and Christians. Both are considered “foreign faiths.” The BJP party has a nationalist agenda working to increase those in the Hindu faith while preventing the increase of other faiths.
Eight states within India have passed anti-conversion laws that are often used to harass and intimidate Christians. Other states are considering them, even though few are convicted by these laws. However, the cases can last for years for the Christians involved while increasing their exposure to additional persecution.
According to Open Doors, the combination of COVID and technology created a rise of the surveillance state in places like China and other nations under the premise of controlling the spread. China donated drones to American law enforcement agencies in 2020. This created questions about if they were spying through backdoors in the technology.
“The COVID pandemic has been used as a justification to exact religious terror. The interconnectivity of technology, in the hands of evil actors, has massive human rights implications for everyone with a smartphone,” Curry shared in one press report.
Early in 2020, government officials in China increased the gathering of photos and registering people as they stepped off buses and moved through other areas. They wanted more data for their improving facial recognition technology.
Even as far back as July 2019, Google and IBM worked through a non-profit to monitor the internet activity of 200 million people in China. How bad could it get for Christians in China (and America) in the future considering Facebook, Twitter, and other Big Tech companies have the audacity to monitor activity, to limit searches, to block President Trump's accounts? Add Biden’s China connections along with the donated surveillance, and does the possibility of increased persecution of Christians in America seem more or less plausible?
One year has changed much across the world, and more changes are coming.
How to help
Visit the report to find out if you know of anyone living and/or working as a missionary in those countries. It identifies the problems Christians face in each country while providing a one-page summary along with ways you can pray. In addition, there is an app you can download which will send out information on how to pray here.
Regardless of how God touches your heart to help these persecuted Christians, remember not to mask your love and devotion to Christ even under the possibility of persecution here in the United States.