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The Open Doors World Watch List is the only annual survey of the religious liberty conditions of Christians around the world. It is independently audited by the International Institute for Religious Freedom to help make the information gathering and calculation process more transparent.

The methodology of the Open Doors World Watch List was comprehensively revised in 2012 to provide greater credibility, transparency, objectivity, and scientific quality. Further refinements have since taken place.

Three types of specialist fill out the WWL questionnaires. First, the persecution analysts of the World Watch List Unit. Second, the researchers and specialists from Field Operations in Open Doors. Third, external experts on the country in question. External experts include academics and policy makers, researchers, and people actively working in a country. All three sources are then pulled together to complete the final score for the WWL ranking.

A Rapid Appraisal Tool (RAPT) is used as a simple instrument to get a quick idea of the situation in almost all countries of the world, and provides justification for the countries that are included on the WWL. The RAPT combines information from sources like, Freedom House, Pew Forum and the U.S. State Department, with the results of “hard facts” Internet searches by the WWL Unit. Those include killings, arrests, church burnings, etc. The countries that score highest on RAPT are the ones for which we will use the WWL questionnaire.

Two main innovations were introduced with the revised questionnaire: The first is the five spheres (private-, family-, community-, national- and church sphere) concept which seeks to better track the contexts of persecution. These five spheres express the squeeze (pressure) in each sphere of life. There is also a sixth block, which expresses the smash (violence). The sixth block potentially cuts across all five spheres of life. Each block counts the same. The second is the scoring grid which seeks to distinguish the communities of persecution. It enables us to get the greatest amount of specificity on which kind of Christian is persecuted where and with what intensity in any given country.
In the WWL, a Christian is defined as, “anyone who self-identifies as a Christian and/or someone belonging to a Christian community as defined by the Church’s historic creeds.”

In the WWL, persecution is defined as, “any hostility, experienced from the world, because of one’s identification with Christ. This can include hostile attitudes, words, and actions towards Christians both from within and outside Christianity.”

The degrees of persecution are reflected by grades of persecution:

(100 to 81 points)

(80 to 61 points)

(60 to 53* points)

*53 = Entry point for WWL 2017


The World Watch List Prayer Updates focuses on the different countries on the Open Doors World Watch List. The weekly email provides a short overview of a country and relevant prayer points. PowerPoint® slides are also included, which can be used in church services, announcements or presentations. If you would like to receive these weekly emails, please complete below.

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