Christians in Jordan are a small minority; of the 10.1 million people living there, Open Doors estimates that there around 180,000 Christians, making up 1.8 per cent of the population.
What does persecution look like in Jordan?
Compared to Christians living in other Middle Eastern countries, most Christians in Jordan live a safe and stable life, and enjoy a relatively high level of religious freedom. King Abdullah II and his government appear to tolerate and, to a certain degree, support recognized churches. Most believers in Jordan belong to Orthodox or Roman Catholic churches.
However, Christians still experience discrimination in employment and restrictions against public preaching. Unrecognized churches can face harassment by public authorities, particularly those that actively evangelize. Although Jordan likes to present itself as a beacon of tolerance and interfaith dialogue, radicalized Sunni Muslims and returning jihadists from Syria and Iraq continue to pose a threat to the Christian community. Additionally, open testimony of faith by a Christian who converted from Islam can lead to beatings, arrest and even death. Christians who are active in evangelism and/or helping converts from Islam can face threats and oppression in daily life. Pressure remains very high for Christians who belong to these groups.
Jordan has a disproportionately high number of Salafi Muslims who are potentially a danger to Christians and other religious minorities living in the country. The government continues to control mosque sermons and requires preachers to abstain from talking about politics to avoid social and political unrest in an attempt to rein in Islamic extremism.
Muslims who convert from Islam are most susceptible to persecution, particularly from their family or community who oppose their conversion. Female converts to Christianity are particularly vulnerable. Additionally, Christians who help converts or who evangelize are often targeted more aggressively.
“When [the leader of a Bible study group prayed with me], I felt the Holy Spirit being poured out into me. That moment changed my life. I used to be a bully, a troublemaker. But now I am a committed member of these groups, joining the Bible study meetings twice a week. I am a new creation now in Jesus Christ. I look more and more like Him.”Tareq
Jordan fell by five rankings on the World Watch List, but its persecution levels have largely remained stable from last year. Violence against Christians remains very low, but pressure in all spheres of life stayed at about the same level. Jordan’s lower ranking this year is primarily attributable to the average rise in persecution among all countries on the World Watch List.
Open Doors works in cooperation with local partners and churches in Jordan. These efforts are dedicated to providing training for Christians, as well as relief, rehabilitation and research for the situation that followers of Jesus face. Open Doors also raises prayer support for Christians in Jordan.
- Pray for Christians who worship in unregistered churches. Pray they would be able to continue to worship and that the religious freedom the government promises would be more than empty words.
- Pray for followers of Jesus who left Islam. Pray they wouldn’t be oppressed or ostracized by their families, and that they would be safe from harm.
- Pray for leaders in Jordan, that they would be increasingly open to religious freedom, and that the hope of Jesus would transform their hearts and minds to follow Him.
God, we are so thankful for the level of religious freedom our brothers and sisters enjoy in Jordan. And yet, Lord, we are burdened by the oppression and persecution of so many Christians. Please protect and strengthen those followers of Jesus who are at constant risk because they worship You. We also ask that You would change the hearts of any Islamic extremists working and living in Jordan. We ask these things in the name of Jesus, Amen.