What does it mean for Christianity to be illegal? Does it mean that one is not allowed to practice the moral and ethical code long associated with Jesus Christ, such as loving one’s neighbor as oneself and loving one’s enemies? Does it mean that the Bible is illegal, so people are not allowed to own a copy? Does it mean that people who are Christians may not enter those countries? There are countries where Christianity is illegal, and this usually means that people are not allowed to convert to Christianity or attempt to convert others to Christianity. However, there are some countries where owning a Bible or talking about Christianity among family members can get one imprisoned or killed.
Communist countries tend to be particularly harsh, not only for Christians but for people of all religions, as communism considers religion to be the opiate of the masses. In North Korea, the world’s most closed country, Christians are often sent to labor camps, where they are often starved and worked to death. The country is so restrictive that Christian parents often do not teach Christianity to their children until the parents are sure that the children will not turn them or other family members into authorities. China and Laos are also communist countries that have harsh policies towards Christians as well as other religious groups.
Iran is an Islamic country that is governed by Sharia law. Like many other Islamic countries that follow Sharia law, Iran has a sizeable Christian minority. However, these Christians do face harassment and persecution by some of their non-Christian neighbors. If they attempt to convert someone who was not born into a Christian family to Christianity, they can go to jail. Additionally, if a Muslim in Iran attempts to convert to Christianity, that person can face jail time or even be killed.
Christians in Afghanistan face similar persecution, and Afghan Christians often practice their faith in secret. Under ISIS, which has lost nearly all of its territory, Christians in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen faced immense persecution, with many being beheaded in public. These countries remain very dangerous for Christians. Somalia, Pakistan, and Nigeria have faced recent insurgencies of terrorist groups that have kidnapped, murdered, and brutalized Christians.
Does the persecution of Christians in these countries, and many others, mean that those who hate Christians are bad people? Not necessarily. Unfortunately, many in the non-Western world today associate Christianity with the United States, especially with its unending War on Terror. This notion has led to the deaths of many civilians and the destruction of countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, and Yemen.