World
Watch List

Discover the most dangerous places to be a Christian.

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WHERE FAITH IS DANGEROUS

The World Watch List 2023

What would your Christian life look like if you lived somewhere else? Would you be imprisoned for your faith, followed by secret police, or kidnapped by extremists?

The World Watch List reveals the 50 most dangerous countries to be a Christian. Produced annually by expert analysts, the World Watch List is the most authoritative of its kind.

Discover the places where believers are forced to choose between faith and freedom.

North Korea is the most dangerous country to be a Christian.

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World Watch List

Guidebook

We want to help you understand where your Christian brothers and sisters are suffering for their faith and help you to stand with the parts of the body of Christ that are hurting the most.

Download the guidebook to learn more.

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1 IN 7 Christians

Persecuted For Their Faith

The highest score ever recorded, the “China effect,” rising violence, and some good news from the Gulf.

Read more about what the Word Watch List reveals in 2023.

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Blessed Are The Persecuted

As part of our World Watch List launch, we’re created a 7-day devotional based on the encouragements our team have experienced in working with the persecuted church.

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WORLD WATCH LIST

SCORING
EXPLAINED

Our expert researchers measure developing trends in Christian persecution each year from 1 November – 31 October through on-the-ground interviews and data collection. In over 70 countries, we uncover where the Church is most persecuted.

There are two main ways Christians experience persecution: violence and pressure.

Violence
Based on the number of violent incidents in the reporting period.

Pressure
Measured in five spheres of life: private, family, national, church, and community.

Each country receives a score based on a detailed report of violent incidents and the five spheres of pressure. These are added up to a score out of 100, creating each country’s rank on the World Watch List.




latest from the persecuted church

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WORLD
WATCH
LIST FAQs

  • How is the World Watch list put together?

    The first World Watch List was produced in January 1993. Countries’ overall persecution scores are an amalgamation of six different scores. This year’s list covers the period 1 Oct 2021 – 30 Sept 2022.

    Released at the beginning of each year, the list uses extensive research, data from Open Doors field workers, their in-country networks, external experts and persecution analysts to quantify and analyse persecution worldwide. Each edition is certified by the International Institute for Religious Freedom.

    Read: 30 Years Of The World Watch List
  • What are the trends from the latest report?

    Some of the findings from the latest report include:

    • North Korea (1) returns to number one, with its highest levels of persecution ever. The rise follows a new wave of violence under its new ‘Anti-reactionary thought law’.
    • Over the 30 years of the Open Doors World Watch List reporting, the global phenomenon of Christian persecution has grown alarmingly.
    • Sub-Saharan Africa faces a vast humanitarian catastrophe, as a wave of religiously motivated violence nurtured in Nigeria (7) has swept across the region, targeting Christian populations at an alarming rate in countries like Burkina Faso (23), Cameroon (45), Mali (17) and Niger (28).
    • China has clamped down further on Christians, introducing sweeping new rules on churches’ use of the internet.
    Find out more
  • What happened to Afghanistan?

    Afghanistan (9) has fallen from No. 1 in 2022 to No. 9 in this year’s list. However, the sharp drop offers little good news.

    After the brutal takeover in 2021, many Christians were executed, as the Taliban went door-to-door to root out believers. Many Christians went deep into hiding or fled overseas.

    Find out more
  • How can we pray?

    Please stand with us in prayer. As Open Doors founder, Brother Andrew, says: “Our prayers can go where we cannot… there are no borders, no prison walls, no doors that are closed to us when we pray.” Ephesians 6.18 reminds us, to ‘keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.’

    Each quarter we release a prayer guide to help you in praying for the Top 50 countries on the World Watch list. Prayer points have come from our partners on the field and the families and communities they serve. Whether you pray alone or with your bible study or group, we know your prayers are powerful and effective.

    Sign up to get a Prayer Guide delivered every quarter.

    Sign up today
  • How can my church get involved?

    We love when churches get involved in learning about the persecuted church. We have resources for you or your pastor to share in church and information to help you pray and support your suffering brothers and sisters in Christ.

    Find out more
  • How can I help?

    We need to stand with our suffering brothers and sisters. Here’s three ways to help:

    • Pray: One Afghan believer said, ‘it’s only because of you, because of your prayers that we are still here. If it had not been for your prayers, we would be long gone.
    • Give: The needs of the persecuted church are constant. Emergency relief and trauma counselling after an attack; Support to rebuild churches and homes; bibles and Christian resources to strengthen believer’s faith.
    • Share: One of the reasons the World Watch List was created was to grow a greater awareness of the depth and breadth of persecution against Christian. Help share the stories of the persecuted church through your church, small group and online.

WHERE PERSECUTION COMES FROM

WHAT TYPES OF PERSECUTION DO CHRISTIANS FACE

Our experts use nine broad categories to measure the source of persecution:

  1. Islamic Oppression – Any violent or non-violent action used to bring countries, communities, and households under Islamic control.
  2. Religious Nationalism – Using the country’s majority religion to imply Christians do not qualify as citizens.
  3. Clan Oppression – Instances where a clan or extended family ensures the ongoing practice of traditional values or belief systems by force.
  4. Ethno-Religious Hostility – When one ethnic group subjects another to hostility based on their religion.
  5. Christian Denominational Protectionism – Making one Christian denomination the only legitimate expression of Christianity in the country.
  6. Communist and Post-Communist Oppression – To monitor and control Christians and churches through a system based on communist values.
  7. Secular Intolerance – To eradicate Christian expression from public life and impose atheistic secularism.
  8. Dictatorial Paranoia – Persecution derived from an authoritarian government which does everything to maintain power, including tearing down organised groups like Christians.
  9. Organised Corruption & Crime – Gangs and criminal groups create a climate of anarchy and corruption for selfish gain. Christians will often speak out against them and become targets for persecution.
EXPLORE THE WORLD WATCH LIST

“If someone is willing to kill me for my faith, my God must be powerful.”

Sara, Egypt