2021 World Watch List Reports Significant Rise in Christians Persecuted

Save the Persecuted Christians: ‘Hundreds of Millions of Christians Spend Every Day Fearing for Their Safety and the Safety of Their Families’

WASHINGTON—Last weekpersecution watchdog organization, Open Doors USA, announced the release of the World Watch List 2021, its anticipated annual ranking of the top 50 countries where Christians face the most danger– and provided a surprising update on significant shifts in the landscape of Christian persecution worldwide.


Research-based and highly-cited, the 2021 World Watch List reveals disturbing new trends including an opportunistic expansion of extremist violence from Nigeria into Sub-Saharan Africa, implications of technology’s increasing role in the persecution of religious minorities, and new data indicating one-in-eight Christians now suffer for their religious beliefs worldwide. The report also showed how and why after several years in an otherwise static position, China’s ranking on the list jumped significantly.

Open Doors USA reports that in 2020, more than 340 million Christians experienced high levels of persecution—including kidnappings, beatings, forced conversion/marriage, false imprisonment, loss of property, murder and even genocide.


“That’s one in eight Christians—or equal to one Christian for every man, woman and child in America—who, because they are Christian, spend each and every day fearing for their safety and the safety of their families,” said Dede Laugesen, executive director of Save the Persecuted Christians. 


“COVID lockdowns and unequal provision of relief no-doubt contributed to an increase of at least 80 million more at-high-risk Christians over the year before when it was reported that 260 million experienced high levels of persecution,” Laugesen continued.


Making the top ten is Nigeria, which in December 2020 was designated by the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as a country of particular concern, thereby subjecting it to increased sanctions and visa restrictions. Nigeria has moved up the World Watch List from number 12 to number 9.

“More Christians are murdered for their faith in Nigeria than in any other country,” says Open Door USA.

Recently, Ambassador Sam Brownback, the outgoing U.S. ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom, remarked that the work of Save the Persecuted Christians and their coalition partners was of note and value to the administration and its agencies through participation in the International Religious Freedom Roundtable. He thanked STPC for continually providing news of religious-based violence, expert witness testimony and contextual fact-based reports.

“The Trump administration has provided unprecedented accessibility to the State Department and other agencies for organizations concerned with issues related to freedom of religion and belief,” said Laugesen. “The weekly IRF Roundtables have been instrumental in promoting and defending this fundamental human right globally. We are hopeful the Biden administration will continue to engage with this forum going forward”.

On January 19th, Secretary Pompeo announced that what is happening to Uyghurs in China’s Xinjiang province, in the view of the U.S. State Department, has been determined to be genocide. The Uyghurs of Xinjiang, formerly the independent nation of East Turkistan, are an ethnic, Muslim minority being brutally suppressed and even exterminated by the CCP. China claims their policies curb terrorism and extremism. Human rights advocates say the surveillance state, forced labor and re-education camps, forced sterilization and abortion of Uyghur women amounts to crimes against humanity. The Open Doors USA report focuses in on the genocide of Uyghurs as a situation of persecution that all people, no matter their faith or belief, should be concerned about. According to Open Doors, China has moved up the list from number 33 to number 17.

“All over China, ethnic and religious minorities are being stripped of their rights to participate in society—to gather, to be employed, to get an education, to travel and more,” Laugesen said. “China has been found guilty of using religious prisoners as a source of organs for their criminal organ tourism industry.”


The mission of Save the Persecuted Christians is to save lives and save souls by disseminating actionable information about the magnitude of the persecution taking place globally and by mobilizing concerned Americans for the purpose of disincentivizing further attacks on those who follow Jesus.


With so much of the world’s Christian population being imprisoned and/or harassed for their beliefs, such as Christians in Nigeria, the need has never been greater for the sort of grassroots campaign STPC’s SaveUs Movement is working to foster. Its efforts are modeled after a miraculously successful one that helped free another population suffering from heavy persecution—Soviet Jews—by penalizing those in the Kremlin responsible for such repression. Through this movement, Save the Persecuted Christians endeavors to provide American policymakers with the popular support they need to effect real change worldwide and alleviate systemically the suffering being experienced by so many of those following Christ.

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