Pew releases list of top 10 non-religious countries hostile to Christians and minorities

The Pew Research Center recently released a list of the top 10 non-religious countries that were hostile to Christians and other religious minorities based on data gathered for a year ending on Dec. 31, 2015.

(REUTERS / Jo Yong-Hak)A North Korean defector (R) holds her son as she prays for human rights in North Korea during a service at Saetu Church in Seoul April 25, 2010.

After studying 199 countries and self-administering territories, Pew found that most of the nations in the world have no official or preferred religion, with only 22 percent having a state religion. The research also identified Islam as the most common state religion in the world and shared that it made up 63 percent of the countries with an official faith, The Christian Post detailed.

The 10 non-religious countries which Pew described as being actively hostile to Christianity and other religious institutions are Azerbaijan, China, Cuba, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, North Korea, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam. It is worth noting that several of these nations on the list were formerly part of the Soviet Union.

Christianity is the official religion of 13 countries in the study, two have Buddhism, and only one has Judaism. Also, 40 of the nations do not have an official religion but have a preferred faith, with 70 percent of them preferring Christianity.

"Nine of these countries are in Europe, including the United Kingdom, Denmark, Monaco and Iceland," said Pew of the Christian states. "Two countries in the Americas — Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic — and one in the Asia-Pacific region — Tuvalu — have Christianity as their official state religion. Only one country in sub-Saharan Africa is officially Christian: Zambia."

Meanwhile, Christians in North Korea are "virtually invisible" and the real number of their population in the reclusive state is unknown. However, it is estimated that there are around 350,000 underground believers there, CNS News noted.

In contrast, the Operation World prayer guide said South Korea is home to roughly 15 million Christians from around 50,000 Protestant congregations. The nation is also considered a "missionary powerhouse' which launches 21,000 missionaries to 175 countries.