Christians, disciples of God

Open Doors World Watch List 2024: ‘365 Million Christians Now Persecuted for Their Faith’

5 February 2024

2.9 MINS

The number of Christians across the world who are suffering persecution and discrimination because of their faith has risen to 365 million, according to the latest global index released by Open Doors.

The World Watch List 2024 reveals that now 1 in 7 Christians worldwide face high levels of persecution and discrimination for their faith, with the total number of Christians being persecuted rising 5 million in the last 12 months.

The CEO of Open Doors Australia and New Zealand, Adam Holland, said the rise of Islamic extremism and autocratic regimes was unleashing a new wave of violence against Christians.

“In many countries, there is no safe place for Christians, with attacks on Christian churches, schools and hospitals rising seven-fold and attacks on the homes of Christians spiking 371 per cent in the past year,” he said.

Key Findings for the World Watch List 2024

  • The number of Christians killed in faith-related attacks last year was almost 5,000, but the death toll was likely to be much higher with so many killings going unreported or deliberately hidden.
  • The rate of persecution and discrimination against Christians is the highest in Asia, where 2 in 5 Christians are suffering.
  • Of the 50 countries where persecution and discrimination are worst, North Korea ranked first, ahead of Somalia, Libya, Eritrea, Yemen, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sudan, Iran, and Afghanistan.
  • Violent persecution was most acute in Sub-Saharan Africa, where most Christian killings were perpetrated.

A Seven-Fold Increase in Church Closures

Across the globe, the World Watch List research documented a 7-fold increase in church closures, with India and China being two of the largest contributors to that increase. Mr Holland said that the persecution of Christians in India and China, two of Australia’s key trading partners, was rising sharply.

“Tragically, we saw a nine-fold increase in the number of Indian Christians killed, with the number of deaths rising from 17 last year to 160 in 2023. And the number of attacks on churches and Christian schools spiralled from 67 last year to 2,228 while attacks on houses doubled to 180,” Mr Holland said.

“In addition, China closed thousands of churches during and after Covid-19, through a set of old and new authoritarian measures.”

“Large unregistered ‘house churches’, which had been meeting in hotels or office blocks, have been forced to splinter into a myriad of less visible house groups, and many of the venues for state-approved churches were forced to close and merge with larger churches.”

About Open Doors and the World Watch List

The World Watch List is based on the levels of violence, the degree of government restrictions, and the amount of social hostility towards Christians. It uses extensive research, data from Open Doors field workers, their in-country networks, external experts, and persecution analysts to quantify and analyse persecution worldwide.

A copy of the Open Doors 2024 World Watch list is available

Open Doors CEO Adam Holland and other qualified spokespeople are available for interview.

For media inquiries, please contact: Jordan Scott,
Communications and PR Specialist at Open Doors Australia and New Zealand

World Watch List: Church Leaders Briefing (8 February)

Where are the most dangerous places in the world to follow Jesus? And what does life look like for Christians facing persecution?

You’re warmly invited to hear about this – and more! – as we are joined by experts in the field of persecution to launch the World Watch List 2024, showing the top 50 hardest countries to be a Christian.

Join us for exclusive firsthand insights from those who have worked on and visited the frontlines of Christian persecution, specifically tailored for pastors and ministry leaders in Australia and New Zealand.

This gathering goes beyond facts and figures; it’s your chance to explore global persecution trends and understand the challenges faced by the global Church, while connecting with pastors from your region and across denominations.

You can choose to join the heart of this event in Sydney, or join Open Doors staff and fellow church partners in Melbourne, Brisbane, or Auckland at roundtable events. Limited tickets are available for each venue, so get yours today!

Event Details:

  • Sydney – 10:30 am – 12:00 pm (AEDT)
    C3 SYD Silverwater, 108 Silverwater Rd, Silverwater NSW 2128
  • Melbourne – 10:30 am – 12:00 pm (AEDT)
    Open Doors Melbourne Office, 5/7 Diana Drive Blackburn North (Upstairs)
  • Brisbane – 9:30 am – 11:00 am (AEST)
    Southside Presbyterian, 30 McKechnie Dr, Eight Mile Plains QLD 4113
  • Auckland – 12:30 pm – 2:00 pm (NZDT)
    C3 Ellerslie, 20 Cawley Street, Ellerslie, Auckland 1051
  • Online Attendance
    Unable to join us in person? Opt for the online experience on Zoom. Although you’ll miss the on-site refreshments, you won’t miss out on the event’s valuable content. Zoom link sent in advance.

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