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Open Doors Canada Releases 2019 World Watch List
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List launch events will be held

For almost 30 years, Open Doors has published the only instrument that measures the persecution of Christians, annually – the World Watch List (WWL). The WWL is a ranking of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian. The 2019 WWL reports that North Korea and Afghanistan scored highest in the persecution of Christians, new laws in China and Vietnam seek to control all expression of religion and persecution of Christians in China is at an unprecedented high.

The WWL is produced using detailed information provided by independent experts and Open Doors workers in more than 60 countries. Data is gathered on five spheres of life – private, family, community, national and church – and a sixth sphere measuring the degree of violence impacting Christians.



To view the 2019 World Watch List video, click here


“As a ministry, we don’t exist to end persecution. The reality is, wherever the gospel is being shared, persecution exists,” said Rev. Gary Stagg, Executive Director, Open Doors Canada. “Instead, we work to strengthen the Church to continue sharing the message of Jesus. The World Watch List shows us where persecution is on the rise, how God is at work and where the gospel is advancing.”

The WWL is a product of extensive research which has been independently audited by the International Institute for Religious Freedom. This year’s data reveals 30 million more Christians are experiencing high levels of persecution the world over and there is a 25 per cent increase in the number of countries with an extreme, very high or high level of persecution, since 2017.

The top 11 countries below have an ‘extreme’ level of persecution:



Open Doors Canada will be presenting the 2019 WWL through two events happening on January 30 in Ottawa, ON. The first event is a lunch on Parliament Hill where Members of Parliament are invited to learn what this list means to Canadians and how they can advocate for religious freedom. In the evening, community leaders and members of the media are invited to attend the 2019 World Watch List launch, learn about current trends, hear about the importance of religious freedom from a special guest speaker and have the opportunity to connect with their persecuted brothers and sisters.

“Tackling religious persecution head-on is a strategic way to resolve many complex global issues. When freedom of religion is denied, existing vulnerabilities such a gender, ethnicity, class or age is further heightened, especially for religious minorities,” said Stagg. “Addressing religious persecution could help resolve many global issues. This truly is the issue of our time.”

Additional 2019 WWL findings include:
  • In the North and Middle Belt of Nigeria, at least 3,700 Christians were killed for their faith – almost double the number from a year ago – with villages completely abandoned by Christians forced to flee, as their armed attackers then move in to settle with impunity.
  • Nationalistic governments such as India and Myanmar continue to deny freedom of religion for their sizeable Christian minorities, sending the very clear message that to be Indian, one must be Hindu, or to be Burmese one must embrace Buddhism. This impacts Christians most significantly in the rural areas.
  • Extreme persecution also comes at the hands of radical Islamic militias, such as in Egypt – where the Islamic State in Sinai vowed in 2017 to "wipe out" the Coptic Church – as well as in Libya and many other sub-Saharan countries. South-east Asia has seen suicide bombers in Indonesia attack three churches in one day.
  • In Mexico and Colombia, persecution mainly comes when church leaders challenge corruption and cartels. Globally, persecution comes from family, friends, fellow-villagers, colleagues, community councils, local government officials, police and legal systems.
  • Christian women and girls face more persecution pressure in family and social spheres while men and boys are more likely to experience the brunt of pressure from the authorities or militias.
  • With India at "extreme" and China at "very high," two of the world’s most numerous Christian populations, one in a secular democracy, the other in a Communist state, face unprecedented persecution – albeit expressed through very different ways.
  • To download the 2019 World Watch List map, click here.
  • For more information on the launch events in Ottawa, ON, click here and here.
  • For a full summary of the 2019 World Watch List, click here.