Christian Persecution 2021

Christian Persecution 2021

Brothers and Sisters Suffering for Christ

Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” — Matthew 5:10-12

There is no question that religious persecution in the world is on the rise. In particular, Christians are being oppressed in at least 60 countries. But we know little of who those suffering brothers and sisters are, what they are going through, where they are, and what can be done for them. Now you can get the facts, their personal stories, and learn how to help.

Persecution watchdog, Open Doors USA, “works to equip and encourage Christians living in dangerous circumstances and equips the Western church to advocate for religious freedom.”  Earlier this year, the organization published its annual rankings for the top 50 countries that were most dangerous for Christians.

The Open Doors 2021 World Watch List shines a light on disturbing trends, among them, expansion of extremist violence from Nigeria into Sub-Sahan Africa, technology’s role in religious minorities persecution, and data indicating one in eight Christians suffer high levels of persecution and discrimination worldwide.

The report is as much about oppression as it is about resilience. According to David Curry, Chairman & CEO of Open Doors USA, “When our sisters and brothers are persecuted for their faith, and they still choose Jesus, the Living Water—this is a miracle in front of our eyes.”

Here is what the 2021 World Watch List Fact Sheet reveals:

In the 2021 World Watch List (WWL) reporting period (October 2019 — September 2020):

  • More than 340 million Christians suffer high levels of persecution and discrimination for their faith.
  • In Open Doors’ World Watch List top 50 alone, 309 million Christians suffer very high or extreme levels.
  • That’s one in 8 worldwide, 1 in 6 in Africa, 2 out of 5 in Asia, and 1 in 12 in Latin America.


  • COVID-19 acted as a catalyst for religious persecution through relief discrimination, forced conversion, and as justification for increasing surveillance and censorship.
  • Extremist attacks opportunistically spread further throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, from Nigeria and Cameroon to Burkina Faso, Mali, and beyond.
  • Chinese censorship systems continue to propagate and spread to emerging surveillance states.

Violence Statistics

  • 4,761 Christians killed for their faith
  • 4,488 Churches or Christian buildings attacked
  • 4,277 Christians unjustly arrested, detained or imprisoned
  • 1,710 Christians abducted for faith-related reasons

*The total number of Christians killed for their faith rose from 2,983 registered cases (WWL 2020) to 4,761 (WWL 2021). This is an increase of 60 percent. The violent killing of Christians for faith-related reasons was much higher in Africa than in Asia. Ninety-one percent of the killings were in Africa, and 8 percent in Asia.

On average, every day…

  • 13 Christians are killed for their faith
  • 12 churches or Christian buildings are attacked
  • 12 Christians are unjustly arrested, detained or imprisoned
  • 5 Christians are abducted for faith-related reasons

Country Statistics

  • For the first time in the list’s 29-year tenure, every country in the top 50 is ranked as experiencing very high or extreme levels of persecution, scoring more than 60 points out of 100.
  • North Korea ranks #1, as the world’s worst persecutor of Christians, for the 20th consecutive year.
  • Nigeria entered the top 10 for the first time due to reaching the maximum violence score.
  • China has re-entered the top 20 for the first time in a decade, due to ongoing and increasing surveillance and censorship of Christians and other religious minorities.
  • India, #10, continues to see an increase in violence against religious minorities due to government-sanctioned Hindu extremism.
  • Turkey has risen to 25 from 36 due to increase in violence against Christians.
  • Democratic Republic of Congo entered the top 50 at 40, mainly due to attacks on Christians by the Islamist group ADF.
  • Mozambique entered the top 50 due to extremist Islamic violence in the northern province of Cabo Delgado.
  • Bangladesh rose to 31 from 38, due to violent attacks on Christian converts among its Rohingya refugees.
  • At #13, Sudan’s new constitution guarantees freedom of religion, although change may be slow for Christians. Sudan has abolished the death penalty for apostasy.
  • Hotspots for COVID-19 relief discrimination include Ethiopia, Malaysia, Nigeria, Vietnam, and the Middle East. In India, 80% of those receiving aid from Open Doors partners were excluded from official distribution for faith-related reasons.

To view the full report, visit the Open Doors World Watch List 2021.

Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” — Galatians 6:2

How to Help

If God has placed a desire to help our fellow persecuted Christians on your heart, there is something you can do. Many ways of helping are listed on the Open Doors website and through other reputable organizations such as Samaritan’s Purse and The Nazarene Fund.

But you can stand with our brothers and sisters through prayer. Your prayers can reach these dear Christians in any circumstance and any country. Visit the Open Doors Prayer Resources page, and you will find a variety of ways to inform and guide you in providing prayer support.

Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.” –Hebrews 13:3

About Open Doors

Andrew van der Bijl, a Christian missionary from the Netherlands, founded Open Doors in 1955. He is referred to as Brother Andrew after his first act of smuggling Bibles to Christians in Communist Poland.

After his exploits of smuggling millions of Bibles into Communist countries during the Cold War era, he was nicknamed “God’s Smuggler” and published the first edition of the same name. Among his early exploits was delivering one million contraband Chinese Bibles in one night on a beach in southern China in 1981. In 1988, Open Doors openly delivered one million Russian Bibles to the Russian Orthodox Church under Glasnost.

Based out of Ermelo, The Netherlands, Open Doors continues to raise awareness of global persecution, mobilizing prayer, and practical support and action among Christians from all around the world.

“Christian Persecution 2021” Related Articles

==> Also read ““Peace, Be Still.”.”

==> And read “Lest We Forget.”


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