MAPPED: The 50 countries where you CAN’T be a Christian in 2017

    MILLIONS of Christians across the world are facing punishments including imprisonment, torture and death for practicing their faith, shocking new research has revealed.

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    Pakistan among worst places for Christian persecution

    North Korea, Somalia and Afghanistan are the worst countries to openly follow the teachings of the Bible, according to the study by Open Doors.North Korea has been branded the most dangerous country in the world for Christians since 2002.The Christian charity found the global level of Christian persecution has risen for the fourth year in a row, with Asian countries showing a particularly rapid rise.

    The study found Islamic extremism was responsible for increased hostility in 14 of the top 20 counties on its list.

    And the research discovered followers of Jesus living in India were faced with a “very high” level of persecution as “Hindu nationalists batter the churches”.

    The charity concludes “millions of Christians around the world now live their lives against varying levels of discrimination, discovery, violence and arrest”.The study highlighted the top 50 countries where it is most difficult to practice the Christian faith, and rated levels of persecution as “extreme”, “very high” or “high”.North Korea topped the list because of dictator Kim Jong-un’s brutal crackdown against the nation’s estimated 300,000 Christians.

    The tyrant’s family are worshipped like gods and any suggestion there is a higher authority than the supreme leader is “immediately crushed”.

    Open Doors map of Christian persecutionOPEN DOORS UK

    Red indicates

    Open Doors says: “Tens of thousands of Christians are incarcerated in horrific labour camps, and thousands more keep their faith in Christ a complete secret – often their own family members do not know of their faith.”In lawless Somalia, which ranks second for persecution, the charity says people even suspected of being a Christian can be murdered on the spot.The militant Islamist group al-Shabaab, which is highly active in the East African nation, has made making Somalia “free of all Christians” one of its missions.

    And the Open Doors study cites a horrific case from 2016 when at least 12 Christians were killed after their faith was discovered.

    Christian crossGETTY/OPEN DOORS UK

    Millions of Christians are facing persecution for their faith across the world, Open Doors says

    Kim family statues in North KoreaGETTY

    The Kim family are viewed as gods in North Korea and Christians face imprisonment or death

    Roman Catholic Cathedral ruins in SomaliaGETTY

    A boy sits in the ruins of what used to be the Roman Catholic Cathedral in Modadishu, Somalia

    The charity’s research says in Afghanistan, which ranks third in the study, it is illegal for Afghans to practice any faith other than Islam.But despite the ban, Open Doors estimates there are thousands of Christians living in the central Asian country.The charity says: “Discovered believers will sometimes be sent to a mental hospital, as families believe no sane person would leave Islam.”

    The study ranked India 15th on its list because it says there are efforts to impose national anti-conversion laws to prevent anyone from practicing anything other than Hinduism.

    Coptic Christians killed in Egypt attack

    The charity says a massive 63.9 million Christians are living in the vast South Asian state, and face persecution from the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party.The research says: “Some of those who have left Hinduism to follow Jesus have been attacked and even killed by their own parents.”China is ranked 39th and was found to have a “high” level of persecution.

    The world’s most populous country is home to an estimated 97.2million Christians and Open Doors says “a considerable number” of those are still imprisoned for practicing their faith.

    The study says: “Violence is at a very high level and is increasing.

    “Church meetings continue to be disrupted in several provinces.

    “Churches were also closed and landlords pressured to stop renting premises to Christians.”

    Open Doors has identified eight main ‘engines’ of persecution that describe why Christians are persecuted in a particular area or setting.

    • Islamic extremism – attempts to bring the country or the world under the ‘House of Islam’ through violent or non-violent actions
    • Religious nationalism – attempts to conquer the nation for one’s religion. Mainly Hinduism and Buddhism, but also Orthodox Judaism or other religions
    • Ethnic antagonism – attempts to force the continuing influence of age-old norms and values shaped in ‘tribal’ context. Often comes in the form of traditional religion or something similar
    • Denominational protectionism – attempts to maintain one’s Christian denomination as the only legitimate or dominant expression of Christianity in the country. In most cases this Christian denomination is the majority Christian denomination
    • Communist and post-Communist oppression – attempts to maintain Communism as a prescriptive ideology and/or controls the church through a system of registration and oversight that has come from Communism
    • Secular intolerance – attempts to eradicate religion from the public and private domain, and imposes an atheistic form of secularism as a new governing ideology
    • Organised corruption and crime – attempts to create a climate of impunity, anarchy and corruption as a means for self-enrichment
    • Dictatorial paranoia – does anything to maintain power; not specifically focused on realising a vision.

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