Asia Rising: The Top 50 Countries Where It’s Hardest to Follow Jesus

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China’s church raids drew headlines, but 26 countries—including India—treated Christians worse in 2018.

Christian persecution has worsened in the most populous countries in the world, China and India, putting millions more believers at risk for their faith.

The two Asian nations moved up on Open Doors’s annual ranking of the 50 countries where it’s hardest to be a Christian. India entered the World Watch List’s top 10 for the first time, due to a growing Hindu nationalist threat stirring anti-Christian sentiments. Meanwhile China, where the Communist government continues closing major congregations and detaining Christian leaders, climbed from No. 43rd to No. 27 on the list.

Researchers calculate that 1 in 3 Asian Christians now experience high levels of persecution for their faith.

Year after year, Open Doors has reported on the decline of religious freedom for Christians worldwide—measuring persecution through government restrictions, social pressures, and outright violence.

The latest World Watch List indicates that religious freedom restrictions have also become more widespread, affecting 1 in 9 Christians worldwide. An estimated 245 million Christians in the 50 countries on this year’s rankings experience high levels of persecution compared to 215 million last year.

The rise corresponds with the Pew Research Center’s 2018 report on the global rise in religious antagonism overall, which found that 83 percent of the population lives in places with “high” or “very high” religious restrictions, since some of the most restrictive countries—again, China and India—are also the world’s largest. The worsening restrictions represent the biggest surge in religious hostility in over a decade, according to Pew.

The World Watch List’s No. 1 spot has gone …

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