In many regions, practicing one’s religion without fear of retribution is impossible. Over 80 percent of the world’s governments tamper with their people’s religious freedom in 2019, according to the Pew Research Center.
Although Christianity is the most popular religion in the world, Christians are not exempt from persecution because of this.
For example, in Islamic nations, apostasy is seen as a severe offense and is punishable by death. Religion is generally outlawed in communist nations, preferring to rely on the government to guide people’s understanding of justice and their societal position.
Persecuted versus Illegal
There are several countries where it is impossible to tell whether or not Christianity is allowed. This muddle is the result of two factors. To begin with, the rules themselves are sometimes confused and seem to be contradictory.
Even more troubling is that governments that limit religious freedom are more inclined to hide or deceive about the gaps between the language of the law and its actual enforcement in practice.
“Religion shall not be exploited as a pretext for drawing in foreign troops or damaging the State or social order,” states the North Korean constitution, which explicitly recognizes freedom of religion.
These words are utilized as an excuse for a harsh religious dictatorship by the government, which uses them as a pretext. Similarly, the constitution of Afghanistan declares Islam to be the official state religion.
Still, it also guarantees freedom of worship for people of other faiths within the boundaries of the law.
Some activities, such as sharing one’s Christian beliefs, criticizing Islam, or publishing materials that contravene Islamic ideals, are considered unlawful under the limits of the law, which encompass all of the above.
It is also prohibited and punishable by jail, property seizure, or even death to leave Islam for another faith.
10 countries where Christians are most at risk (2022 Open Doors USA):
- North Korea
In what ways is it a crime to practice Christianity? It varies from nation to country how strict the regulations are (and what happens if you breach them). In most circumstances, Christians cannot assemble to pray and worship God in churches.
They are also prohibited from publicly expressing their beliefs or making any kind of endeavor to spread the gospel or persuade others to follow their example of faith.
Simply holding a Bible or talking about Christianity, even among family members inside the privacy of one’s home, may sometimes lead to jail or death, which is a serious consequence.
13 countries where only illegal covert operations may provide Bibles (Voice of the Martyrs):
Persecution of Christians in Afghanistan and North Korea
The Taliban, an Islamic extremist group, seized control of Afghanistan as soon as NATO and U.S. soldiers left in mid-2021, establishing the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan to replace the US-backed democratic government. This made Afghanistan the worst nation in the world for Christians.
According to the Taliban’s rigid interpretation of Islamic texts, no other faiths are allowed. As a result, Christianity is mostly practiced in secret in Afghanistan. For many Muslims, converting to Christianity represents a betrayal of their religion and their family, and as a result, Christians face harsh persecution.
If they’re abducted, their belongings are at risk, they might be assaulted or flogged, and some accounts suggest that their daughters could be taken and forced to marry or serve the Taliban.
While some Christians may be confined to a mental ward due to their conversion being deemed crazy, it is more probable that they will be executed—often on the spot.
In North Korea, there is no official religion, and the totalitarian regime is particularly anti-Christian. In North Korea, Christians face imprisonment, torture, and even death for their religion.
For similar reasons as in Afghanistan, Christian families may be forced to give up members of their flock to the police to escape their punishment.
Since churches are almost nonexistent, Christian parents frequently wait to communicate their faith with their children until they are certain their children will not betray them or other family members to law enforcement.
Many known Christians are either refused food rations or transported to labor camps, where they are regularly starved and/or worked to death.
In Somalia and Libya, Christians are persecuted.
Somalia’s small community of Christians is often persecuted like what is seen in Afghanistan. Suspected Christians may face harassment or possibly death.
Al-Shabab, the Islamic terrorist organization in Somalia, is accused of having connections to al-Qaeda and Boko Haram and controls large portions of the country.
Other than the government, Libyans who converted to Christianity suffered hostility from their family. Those who refuse to abandon their religion risk social exclusion and the inability to get employment, housing, or other forms of assistance.
An arrest and brutal punishment are possible for anyone who seeks to spread their beliefs.
It’s not uncommon for Christians in Libya to be targeted by extremist groups because they lack a central authority. Christians are often targeted for kidnapping and death and have been reported to be transferred to work camps or forced into prostitution.
In Yemen, Eritrea, and Nigeria, Christians face persecution.
A war-torn country, Yemen is struggling to feed and care for its people in the midst of one of the world’s greatest humanitarian catastrophes, according to UNICEF.
Christians have an even more challenging position since assistance is sometimes administered by Muslim authorities who see no incentive to help non-Muslims.
A Christian’s family or tribe may expel them, compel them to divorce, give up their children, or just murder them, frequently by public execution.
It is an anomaly in African countries like Eritrea that approximately half of the people are Christians, yet only those who belong to Eritrean Orthodox, Roman Catholic, or Evangelical Lutheran faiths are allowed to worship openly.
In many cases, non-recognized Christians are detained and imprisoned but never prosecuted.
It has been alleged that some Christians have been imprisoned for a decade or more without ever having any official accusations brought against them.
Forcing people into military duty or placing them under house arrest is common in several countries. Christians are often subjected to state-sponsored monitoring.
Boko Haram, the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), and other Islamic extremist groups actively target Nigerian Christians with abduction and murder to eradicate Christianity from the nation. Christians are often compelled to live as internally displaced persons (IDPs) in their nation.
In Pakistan, Iran, and India, Christians are persecuted.
In Pakistan, Christians are treated as second-class citizens because of their faith. Christian persecution, from denial of humanitarian help to mob violence, is usually justified by anti-blasphemy laws prohibiting insults to Muhammad or the Quran.
Also, kidnappings of Christians are common, as are forced marriages, conversions, and other forms of enslavement.
Like many other Islamic nations that adhere to Sharia law, Iran has a substantial Christian population. However, the government, non-Christian neighbors, and even members of their own families harass and persecute these Christians.
As a result, the Iranian government regards Christians as a danger to national security since it sees Christianity as a Westernization of Islamic ideals.
An Iranian Christian who tries to persuade a non-Christian to follow Christ risks being arrested and imprisoned. If a Muslim converts to Christianity in Iran, he or she might risk imprisonment or execution.
Christian persecution is on the rise in India, as Hindu radicals continue to push the belief that Christians who follow a religion that originated outside of the country are less loyal than Hindus to India.
Also See: Countries Where Alcohol Is Illegal 2022
Harassment, coordinated misinformation efforts, and violent anti-Christian acts are commonplace for those who follow Christianity (or any other non-Hindu faith).
During the COVID-19 outbreak, Christians in various Indian states were refused government assistance and even accused of spreading the virus.
|Country||World Watch Rank||Persecution||Bible Donation (VotM)|
|DR Congo||40||Very High||51.1000|
|Iran||9||Extreme||Covert Ops Only|
|Afghanistan||1||Extreme||Covert Ops Only|
|Saudi Arabia||11||Extreme||Covert Ops Only|
|Uzbekistan||21||Very High||Covert Ops Only|
|Yemen||5||Extreme||Covert Ops Only|
|North Korea||2||Extreme||Covert Ops Only|
|Burkina Faso||32||Very High||51.1000|
|Kazakhstan||47||Very High||Covert Ops Only|
|Somalia||3||Extreme||Covert Ops Only|
|United Arab Emirates||51.1000||unranked||Dangerous/Difficult|
|Tajikistan||45||Very High||Covert Ops Only|
|Kyrgyzstan||51.1000||unranked||Covert Ops Only|
|Turkmenistan||25||Very High||Covert Ops Only|
|Central African Republic||31||Very High||Dangerous/Difficult|
|Mauritania||23||Very High||Covert Ops Only|
|Maldives||16||Very High||Covert Ops Only|