The World Watch List is an annual ranking of the countries where Christians face the most persecution. It’s a unique, in-depth record of the places where Christians are following Jesus no matter the cost. The data for the World Watch List 2023 covers the period 1 October 2021 to 30 September 2022.
Open Doors understands persecution as 'any hostility experienced as a result of one's identification with Christ’. But measuring persecution is a complex task, and measuring faith-based persecution is even more complex. In many countries, persecution is multidimensional – gender and ethnicity will also play a role, for instance.
To create a comprehensive list, the World Watch Research Unit works closely with researchers in the field to collect survey data and secondary data in the following six areas:
|Private life. What freedom does a Christian have to worship and own religious material? Is conversion to Christianity allowed? Is freedom of thought permitted?|
|Family life. How free are Christians to express their faith within their family? Is it possible to hold Christian family milestones, such as Christian marriages and funerals?|
|Community life. Can Christians live without harassment and discrimination in their local communities? How does their faith affect their education or employment?|
|National life. Does the government allow Christians to express their faith? Can converts call themselves Christians on official documents? Do the police target Christians?|
|Church life. Are Christians allowed to meet together? Can they build churches? And if they can, are they heavily monitored? Are Bibles freely available?|
|Violence. Are Christians attacked mentally or physically? Are they arrested, abducted, tortured, imprisoned or even killed? Do they face sexual harassment?|
Each of these areas is scored, and each of the 150 countries assessed is then given a score out of a hundred for the severity of persecution. A score of 81-100 equates to ‘extreme’ persecution, 61-80 is ‘very high’, and 41-60 is ‘high’.
Research methods and results have been independently audited by the International Institute for Religious Freedom (IIRF).