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The Countries Where Christianity is Illegal in 2024

May 28, 2024 by Chandler Peterson in Persecution Trends to Watch

Illegal or Persecuted?

In the discourse on religious freedom, distinguishing between what is officially illegal versus what results in persecution is crucial. Many countries, such as North Korea, profess to uphold freedom of religion in their constitutions. However, in practice, these assurances are hollow as Christianity is effectively banned.

This dissonance highlights a grim reality: legal recognition does not always protect against Christian persecution. Thus, while some countries might not explicitly declare Christianity illegal, “oppressive measures including verbal threats, incarceration and violence against Christians lead to a ban, in practice.

This pattern is evident in numerous nations where the discrepancy between the law and its enforcement underscores the plight of those practicing their faith. Recognizing these nuances is essential to understanding the full scope of challenges faced in countries where Christianity is banned, or Christians are persecuted.

A List of Countries Where Christianity is Illegal or Suppressed

This list, though not exhaustive, examines some of the top countries known for banning Christianity or extreme suppression of the Christian faith.


In Afghanistan, converting to Christianity can result in severe punishments, including death, due to the country’s Islamic laws. The small number of Christians, who must practice their faith in utmost secrecy, face dire consequences if discovered. This extreme persecution comes not just from the Taliban-led central government but also from local communities and even family members.

North Korea

North Korea is perhaps the most dangerous place in the world for Christians. The government views religion as a threat to the leadership’s ideology. Being found practicing Christianity or possessing a Bible can lead to imprisonment in labor camps, where conditions are notoriously brutal. Reports suggest that many Christians are detained without trial, with their families often punished as well.


In Somalia, the Christian community is tiny and under constant threat. The country does not recognize any religion other than Islam, and converting to Christianity can be lethal. Christian converts face the risk of execution by Islamist militant groups who actively target Christians to eradicate the faith from the country.


Since the fall of political leader Gaddafi, Libya has lacked a stable central government, leading to a rise in Islamic extremism. Christians, particularly those from immigrant communities, face violence and abduction. Churches were attacked, and gatherings are often targeted, making it perilous for Christians to practice their faith openly.


In Yemen, ongoing conflicts have led to a lawless environment where extremist groups thrive. Christians are banned from practicing their faith openly, and those who convert from Islam face the threat of death. The Christian community lives under constant surveillance and threat from rebel groups and experiences societal pressures.


The Eritrean government recognizes only certain Christian denominations, and independent religious groups face severe persecution. Christians outside these recognized groups are often arrested and held in horrific conditions; some are even kept in shipping containers. The government’s tight control over religious practices reflects its broader crackdown on any form of dissent.


Nigeria presents a complex picture where the northern states, under Sharia law, often see violent clashes and extreme persecution of Christians. Churches are attacked frequently, and blasphemy laws are used to target Christians. Meanwhile, the southern part of the country experiences more religious freedom, illustrating a stark north-south divide.


Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are notoriously used to target Christians, often based on false accusations that lead to mob violence. Christians living in Pakistan face systemic discrimination, and even the accusation of blasphemy can result in death sentences, making the environment extremely hostile for the Christian community.


In Iran, the Christian faith is tolerated only to a certain extent, primarily among historical Armenian and Assyrian communities. However, converting to Christianity from Islam is considered apostasy and can lead to severe punishment, including death. Christians often face arbitrary arrests and are prohibited from sharing their faith with Muslims.


While India constitutionally guarantees religious freedom, in practice, the situation can be quite different. Rising anti-Christian sentiment fueled by Hindu nationalist groups often results in violence against Christians and attacks on churches. The push for anti-conversion laws in several states poses a significant threat to Christians and limits their ability to share their faith.

The Iranian flag waving above Tehran

Countries Where It Is Illegal to Own or Import Bibles

In several regions around the world, owning or importing a Bible is considered illegal and can attract severe penalties. Countries like North Korea and Saudi Arabia enforce strict bans on the importation and possession of religious texts that diverge from state-endorsed ideologies.

In North Korea, the distribution or possession of a Bible is a crime that can result in imprisonment or worse. Similarly, in Saudi Arabia, while the practice of non-Muslim religions is technically allowed in private, the importation and distribution of non-Islamic religious material, including Bibles, are strictly prohibited, reflecting stringent control over religious expression.

These policies severely restrict religious freedom, demonstrating the extreme measures some governments employ to regulate religious practices.

The Bottom Line

The plight of Christians in these countries reflects to the harsh realities faced by religious minorities around the world. It’s crucial for international communities and organizations to continue highlighting these issues and pushing for greater religious freedom. As we shed light on these restrictive nations, the goal remains not just to inform but to inspire action and hope for those who suffer for their faith in silence.

Global Christian Relief stands committed to supporting these brave souls, advocating for their religious freedom, and providing relief wherever possible. By understanding and acknowledging their struggles, we can better assist them and reinforce the message that faith should not be a cause for persecution.

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