The document, released annually since 1993, ranks countries based on the severity of the persecution and discrimination that Christians are subjected to. Although Afghanistan took the top spot in 2022, North Korea regained its status as the world’s worst persecutor of Christians in 2023. Somalia, Yemen, Eritrea, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan and Sudan round out the top 10.
The organization cited an “anti-reactionary thought law” implemented in North Korea as a particularly troubling development. It included a comment from North Korean escapee Timothy Cho when painting a picture of the hostility faced by Christians there.
“Christians have always been in the front line of attack for the regime,” he said. “Their aim is to wipe out every Christian in the country. There can only be one god in North Korea, and that is the Kim family.”
The World Watch List also named Nigeria as a hotbed for Christian persecution. The number of religiously motivated killings in the African nation rose from 4,650 to 5,014 in the course of a year, accounting for 89 percent of the international total of 5,623 Christians killed for their faith in 2022. The number of religiously motivated killings worldwide marked a slight decrease worldwide from the 5,898 measured the previous year.
Statistics compiled by Open Doors US reveal that more than 360 million Christians worldwide find themselves subject to discrimination and persecution because of their faith, accounting for one out every seven Christians. The watchdog organization characterized the persecution of Christians as at the highest levels since the list began nearly 30 years ago.”
This year’s World Watch List marks the first to be released after Open Doors USA, the organization that previously released the World Watch Lists, separated from Open Doors International and assumed the name Global Christian Relief..
–Dwight Widaman | MV