Persecution of Christians Higher Than Ever – Here Are the “Hotspots”

Open Doors, an international organization that has covered Christian persecution over the last thirty years, recently issued its 2023 World Watch List. The key findings of their latest study are troubling, but not surprising.

North Korea is ranked as the worst place in the world to be a Christian. The next twenty countries listed are primarily Muslim-majority countries. Somalia, Yemen, Eritrea, and Libya round out the top five.

Nigeria (#6), Pakistan (#7), Iran (#8), Afghanistan (#9), and Sudan (#10) make up the rest of the top ten.

Open Doors’ latest research found that more than 5,600 Christians were killed for their faith in 2020. More than 2,100 churches were either attacked or closed. Moreover, more than 124,000 Christians were forcibly displaced from their homes because of their faith, and almost 15,000 became refugees, as noted by Christianity Today.

The fact that Nigeria is ranked high on Open Doors’ list is interesting given that the U.S. State Department recently removed the west African country from its “Countries of Particular Concern” (CPC) list. There have recently been calls to re-designate Nigeria as a CPC.

The number of religiously motivated killings in Nigeria jumped from 4,650 in 2021 to 5,014 in 2022 – making up 89% of all religiously motivated killings worldwide, as Religion News Service reported.

Christians around the world must pay attention to the findings of Open Doors. The same is true for Muslims given that much of the Christian persecution is happening in the so-called “Islamic world.”

My forthcoming book, under contract with Polity Press, will explore Christian and Muslim relations in a historical and contemporary context, with a particular focus on today’s “hotspots” and solutions to the divisions impacting countries around the world. The book will use a theoretical model to explore the civilizational interplay between the West and Islam.

My sociological concept of DEUCE, meaning a process of dialogue, education, understanding, commitment, and engagement, also will be used to provide direction on how Christians and Muslims can engage in DEUCE.


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