In the world’s second most populous country, Christians once again saw unprecedented persecution on numerous fronts from both the State and general Hindu society. For the second time, India ranks in the top 10 on the World Watch List. The outcome of 2019’s elections gave the ruling Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) even more political power—emboldening ultra-nationalist radicals to spread their message that to be Indian is to be Hindu.
Several states in India have adopted anti-conversion laws, and the BJP has made it clear that it wants to impose these laws nationwide. Such laws are often used as an excuse to disrupt church services and harass Christians, making it incredibly difficult for Christians to share their faith with others.
Christians in India face horrific levels of violence from extremists—thousands of attacks take place every year. And in rural India, Hindu tribes uses water and food as weapons against Christians, cutting them off from access to the village’s water supply and government-subsidized groceries. Converts to Christianity from a Hindu background are especially vulnerable to persecution and are constantly under pressure to return to Hinduism, especially through campaigns known as Ghar Wapsi (“homecoming”). They are often physically assaulted and sometimes killed.
In India, saying “yes” to Jesus has become a risky decision that costs Christians and their families greatly.
One Church, one Family
Open Doors estimates that there are at least a further 50 million Christians facing high levels of persecution in 23 other countries, such as Mexico, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Chad, that haven’t even made it on to the top 50.
The numbers are important. They help us frame the picture. But the World Watch List research offers a bigger vision and story. Behind every statistic and fact is a life, a family, a church that represents deep suffering but also courage and inspiring faith. People who know the consequences yet still choose Jesus. Through our Savior, we and every Christian living in North Korea, Somalia, Afghanistan and the rest of the top 50 countries on the 2020 World Watch List are one Church, one Family.
To read more about these countries and the remaining 40 countries on Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List, click here to see the list and download the full report. To help you pray with these believers, Open Doors has a mobile prayer app that alerts you to prayer requests from believers. Learn more about it and sign up to get regular updates delivered to your phone.
Released at the beginning of each year, Open Doors’ annual World Watch List list uses extensive research, data from Open Doors field workers and external experts to quantify and analyze persecution worldwide. It is certified by the International Institute for Religious Freedom (www.iirf.eu), which carries out an annual audit of the list’s methodology.