Christian persecution increases; N. Korea still No. 1

By Tom Strode - Posted at Baptist Press:

WASHINGTON (BP) -- North Korea ranks as the most dangerous country for Christians for the 16th consecutive time after a year in which the persecution of followers of Jesus continued to rise, according to a new report.

Release of the annual World Watch List from Open Doors USA came as religious freedom advocates call for President-elect Trump to act in the first 100 days of his administration to protect Christians and other people of faith overseas.

About 215 million Christians underwent "high, very high or extreme persecution" last year in the 50 countries on its watch list, Open Doors reported Wednesday (Jan. 11). Open Doors -- which has served the persecuted church overseas for more than 60 years -- defines persecution as hostility endured by a person because of his identification with Christ. It can include loss of property, imprisonment, torture, rape and death.

According to Open Doors, the top 10 countries where Christians face the most severe persecution and their totals on a 100-point system are: (1) North Korea, 92 points; (2) Somalia, 91; (3) Afghanistan, 89; (4) Pakistan, 88; (5) Sudan, 87; (6) Syria, 86; (7) Iraq, 86; (8) Iran, 85; (9) Yemen, 85; (10) Eritrea, 82.