2020 World Watch List

Violence against Christians surges globally, data shows more than 9k attacks on churches in 2019

Open Doors' 2020 World Watch List Reveals 'Human Rights Nightmare' in China, Tracks 10 Types of Violence Experienced by Christians Worldwide

WASHINGTON — Today, persecution watchdog organization Open Doors announced it has expanded its global tracking of violent acts against Christians— as reported in its 2020 World Watch List—to include six new categories including abductions, rape/sexual harassment, forced marriages, physical/mental abuse, and attacks on personal property and Christian businesses.

“As we seek to better understand the dangers Christians face worldwide, it is important to track the difference types of violent acts being committed against our brothers and sisters. As always, the results are horrifying, and we hope that bringing light to these atrocities will urge world and local leaders to action,” said David Curry, president and CEO of Open Doors USA.

Among the most shocking violence-related data disclosed during Open Doors’ annual World Watch List press conference today was a report citing that more than 9,000 churches and Christian buildings were attacked in 51 countries in 2019; more than 5,500 of those attacks took place in China. This number represents more than a 1000 percent increase since 2018.

Notable violence numbers from 2019:
2,983 Christians were killed for their faith
8,537 Christians were raped or sexually harassed for their faith
9,488 Churches or Christian buildings were attacked
3,711 Christians were unjustly arrested or imprisoned
1,052 Christians were abducted for faith-related reasons
3,315 Christian homes were attacked, burned or destroyed

While attacks of buildings and churches rose, Christians killed for faith-related reasons dropped from approximately 4,300 in 2019 to some 2,900 in 2020. The reason for this decrease was primarily found in Nigeria, as militant Fulani herdsmen shifted focus from raiding homesteads and communities to kidnappings and roadblocks. An increase was seen in the number of Christians detained without trial, arrested, sentenced and/or imprisoned—rising from 3,150 in 2019 to some 3,700 in 2020.

The data found that a startling 14,645 Christians were physically or mentally abused, with the majority of that activity occurring in India, China and sub-Saharan African countries where a myriad of jihadist groups aim to create instability. At least 8,500 Christians were raped or sexually abused for reasons related to their faith, a number that should be regarded as the tip of the iceberg, since most sexual harassment happens behind closed doors and is, therefore, more difficult to accurately track.

Every day …
8 Christians are killed for their faith.
23 Christians are raped or sexually harassed
25 Churches are targeted and attacked
10 Christians are unjustly arrested or imprisoned for their faith

2020 World Watch List Top 10
1. North Korea
2. Afghanistan
3. Somalia
4. Libya
5. Pakistan
6. Eritrea
7. Sudan
8. Yemen
9. Iran
10. India

Persecution at a Glance
Christians remain one of the most persecuted religious groups in the world. While persecution of Christians takes many forms, it is defined as any hostility experienced as a result of identification with Christ. Christians throughout the world continue to risk imprisonment, loss of home and assets, torture, rape, and even death as a result of their faith.

Media Resources:
Interviews with David Curry, President and CEO of Open Doors USA
Interviews with persecuted Chinese Christians (limited availability)
View the complete 2020 World Watch List

Methodology
The Open Doors World Watch List is the only comprehensive, annual survey of the state of religious liberty for Christians around the world. From Nov. 1, 2018 to Oct. 31, 2019, researchers measured the degree of freedom a Christian has to live out his or her faith in five spheres of life—private, family, community, national and church, plus a sixth category measuring the degree of violence. Points are given for each incident of persecution, and the total points provide the ranking for each country. For more information on the methodology of the Open Doors World Watch List, please visit OpenDoorsUSA.org.

About Open Doors USA
For more than 60 years, Open Doors USA has worked in the world's most oppressive and restrictive countries for Christians. Open Doors works to equip and encourage Christians living in dangerous circumstances with the threat of persecution and equips the Western church to advocate for the persecuted. Christians are one of the most persecuted religious groups in the world and are oppressed in at least 60 countries. For more information, visit OpenDoorsUSA.org.

###

Contact

Paige Collins
[email protected]
(615) 934-4162