According to OpenDoors annual report, there was a 60% increase in the number of Christians who died for their faith in 2020 over 2019. This was a largely led by a dramatic rise in the number of Christians murdered in Nigeria by Islamic extremists.
OpenDoors reported that 4,761 Christians died for their faith last year with 2,200 of them taking place in Nigeria. Several have been warning of a potential for a Christian genocide in the African nation. It also appears that the violence directed at Christians in Nigeria is spreading into neighbouring countries.
This has been part of an overall increase in the persecution of Christians around the world noted by OpenDoors, an organization dedicated to helping persecuted Christians around the world.
In their report, OpenDoors added that governments have also been using the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to come down on Christians. They are not only trying to stop churches from meeting, while allowing similar secular events to continue, but in some areas of the world, they are purposefully cutting back aid related to the COVID pandemic given to Christians.
In addition to Nigeria, the report noted rising persecution of believers in China led by the Chinese Communist Party which is using its Social Credit System to track and punish believers.
There has also been an increased persecution of Christians in India by Hindu nationalists who believe that true Indians must be Hindus. In Karnataka, a state located in Southern India, Hindu extremists recently convinced police to stop 15 Christian Indian families from attending a church service, because they had not been born into Christian families. This meant they had converted to Christianity from Hinduism and the police justified their ban by stating these were forced conversion.
According to OpenDoors‘ report, this was the first time that the persecution of Christians in the leading 50 countries were all listed as high or extremely high.