A persecution watchdog group released on Wednesday its annual report on the countries in which persecution against Christians is most severe.
Called the ‘Hall of Shame’ report, International Christian Concern’s list of persecutors does not rank the countries in order of severity, like that of another persecution watchdog group called Open Doors USA. Instead, the report categorizes the countries into three groups: worst of the worst countries; core countries; and new and noteworthy.
To note, the United States was included in the Hall of Shame report for the first time, listed under the ‘new and noteworthy’ countries.
“We felt it was important this year that we highlight three countries where religious discrimination and persecution are deemed unusual but have reached a certain threshold of concern. These are Mexico, Russia, and sadly, the United States,” Jeff King, president of the ICC, said in a statement.
“While conditions in the US are in no way comparable to other countries on the list, a certain segment of the culture and the courts seem to be intent on driving faith out of the public square,” King continued. “There have been too many court cases with bad decisions to miss the clear trend line.”
Worst of the worst countries listed in the report include North Korea, Iraq, Syria, and Nigeria. The report noted that Christians are persecuted through various means, including a class system in North Korea, the government’s monitoring of its citizens, and prison and labor camps.
“DPRK is the world’s worst human rights violator and the most violent persecutor of Christians,” the report states. “Since Christianity elevates God over the State, North Korea sees Christianity as a dangerous movement that challenges their power and must be silenced.”
North Korea has also been frequently mentioned by other groups for its persecution against Christians. In the Open Doors USA’s own list of persecutors against Christians, North Korea has consistently been listed as the top persecuting nation against Christians.
For Iraq, Syria, and Nigeria, the report noted the persecution Christians face from extremist groups such as ISIS, Boko Haram, and Fulani militia.
The report also listed Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, India, and China as ‘core countries’ that persecute Christians. In countries such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan, radical Islam was cited as a source of persecution, whether engrained in the government or as practiced by the majority of citizens in the country. Similarly, radical Hindus who harass and perpetrate violence against Christians were noted as a source of persecution in India, while China was described to persecute Christians by cracking down on churches and religious minorities.
Russia and Mexico were two other countries listed under ‘new and noteworthy’ along with the United States. In Mexico, Protestant Christians “experience violence as well as loss of land and livelihood,” the report states, while in Russia, Christians face threat of being fined for speaking about their faith due to the country’s new ‘Yarovaya’ laws.
The persecution that Christians face in the U.S. are due to “current events and shifting perceptions,” the report states, which are “causing conflicts between Christian beliefs and public sentiment.”