Category archives: Human Rights

No Comfort and Joy in North Korea - Why Prayer is Critical

by Rob Schwarzwalder

December 20, 2011

The unlamented death of Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Il, the brutal thug who ran an entire nation like a Stalinist mind-experiment, has ushered his son, Kim Jong-Eun, to the helm of the North Korean regime. Calling it a “government” seems too flattering, as governance implies order, justice, and some kind of representation; none of these are characteristic of North Korea.

According to the anti-persecution ministry, Open Doors,

Of the reported 200,000 North Koreans in prison camps, Open Doors estimates 50,000 to 70,000 are Christians. Both Open Doors and the U.S. State Department report religious adherents are generally treated worse than other prisoners. Extreme forms of torture and execution, as well as forced abortion and infanticide, have been reported in the camps, according to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

North Korea likes to downplay its record of abuse, and even minimize the number of Christians living there (claiming fewer than 13,000 total). Yet a survey released yesterday by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life argues that of roughly 24 million people living in North Korea, there are more than 490,000 self-identified Christians in The Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (thats Orwell-speak for the dictatorial rule in the North).

From a human standpoint, the outlook in North Korea is not good. According to Christianity Today,

When Jong-Eun was named Jong-Ils successor last year, Sam Kim, executive director of the Korean Church Coalition for North Korea Freedom, told CT that Christians in North Korea would likely not see a decrease in persecution. Kim Jong-Eun has not earned the true respect from North Koreas communist party leaders to effectively govern North Korea. As such, he will be nothing more than a figurehead and his uncle, Chan Sung Taek, will be the person who is really in control, Kim said. Unfortunately, Chan Sung Taek is just as ruthless as Kim Jong-Il. As such, Christians can expect to face the same level of persecution.

Now is the time for Christians to pray for North Korea: That God would protect and provide for the tens of thousands of believers in the nations massive political-prison system; that the new leader, his uncle, and their associates will humble themselves before the Judge of all the earth and transition their country from being a global focal point of oppression into an exemplar of religious and political liberty; and that Christian ministries within North Korea can continue their work and even expand it.

In October, FRC hosted a panel of several distinguished experts in the field of international religious liberty. The event can be viewed here.

Does U.S. Foreign Policy Matter for Religious Freedom?

by Jared Bridges

October 27, 2011

Yesterday here at FRC headquarters, a sobering panel of religious freedom & foreign policy experts looked at the past, current, and potential impact of U.S. foreign policy upon religious freedom around the world.

Watch the panel below, or visit the event page for audio and embed code.

Participants included:

  • Elyse Anderson, Foreign Policy Director for Congressman Frank Wolf (R-Va.)
  • Ann Buwalda, Executive Director, Jubilee Campaign
  • Dr. Thomas Farr, first Director of the State Department’s office of international religious freedom and Director of the Religious Freedom Project at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs and Visiting Associate Professor of Religion and International Affairs at Georgetown’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service
  • Emmanuel Ogebe, Nigerian attorney and human rights leader
  • Tina Ramirez, Director of International and Government Relations, The Becket Fund

On the Passing of Dr. Margaret Ogola, Kenyan Pro-Life Hero

by Cathy Ruse

September 28, 2011

Margaret OgolaLast week Margaret Ogolas life on Earth came to an end, at the very young age of 53. Here was a woman who understood the gift of time, for she filled the hours allotted to her in radical solidarity with those God entrusted to her care, and in service of advancing the cause of human life and dignity.

Dr. Ogola was a medical doctor, an award-winning novelist, a university professor, a human rights advocate, and a mother of six children. She ran a hospice for AIDS orphans. She directed the Institute of Healthcare Management at Strathmore University in Nairobi. She was an advisor to the Catholic Bishops of Kenya. She was a powerhouse, yet was described as a person filled with peace. (For a comprehensive obituary see the Strathmore University web site.)

Margaret Ogola was well known in her country as an award-winning novelist. Her first novel, The River and the Source, won every African literary award around. Her subsequent works also received acclaim.

Dr. Ogola was well also known to many Americans active on the world pro-life stage. Family Research Councils own Pat Fagan and my husband Austin Ruse knew her from their work with her on the biennial World Congress of Families where I am told she kept huge audiences rapt with her soft voice and powerful message. In a speech she made at the 4th Women International Conference in Beijing (China) in 1995, she argued that, unless we recognize that each individual is valuable by virtue of simply being conceived human, we cannot begin to talk about human rights.

May God give comfort to her husband and children and may He rest her soul in eternal peace.

Upcoming Events Promoting the Dignity of the Human Person in the DC Area

by Family Research Council

September 16, 2011

- On Tuesday, September 20, the National Catholic Partnership on Disability will host a webinar, “Threats to Life from Physician-Assisted Suicide”. Registration is free at www.ncpd.org. For more information, contact Peg Kolm: mkolm@adw.org or 301-853-4560.

- In Altum Productions, the talented Allot brother film-making team is hosting a benefit on Friday, October 7, 2011 from 6- 8 pm, in Alexandria, Virginia for an upcoming documentary on prenatal disability diagnosis, “Flashes of Color”. A shocking 90% of babies in the womb who are diagnosed with a serious disability are aborted. Flashes of Color, seeks to highlight the profound contributions of people with disabilities at a time when a “culture of perfection” is fueling a deep and deadly bias against them. For more information contact In Altum Productions.

Chen Guangcheng needs your help

by Rob Schwarzwalder

July 19, 2011

In 2005, Chen Guangcheng —- a blind masseur and self-taught attorney —- began to draw attention to the brutal Chinese “One Child” policy in the city of Linyi. Linyi, with a population of more than 10 million, is located in west-central China. After filing a class action lawsuit against Linyi officials complicit in the forced abortions and sterlizations of thousands of area residents, Chen was arrested by the Chinese authorities. In and out of prison since then, he is now in declining health.

Today, the respected Christian ministry ChinaAid sent out the following:

ChinaAid announced today that it is partnering with Womens Rights Without Frontiers to spearhead a campaign to free blind activist Chen Guangcheng, whose health is in serious jeopardy because of repeated beatings and malnutrition he suffers in house detention. Womens Rights Without Frontiers has released a new video demanding freedom for Chen and his family. This video was created by the China Aid Visual Studio.

Pray for Chen and contact Chinese officials to demand his release and that he and his family be provided with food and medical care. Contact the Chinese Embassy in Washington at chinaembpress_us@mfa.gov.cn or call Embassy officials at (202) 495-2266.

URGENT: Contact Chinese Embassy

by Family Research Council

July 5, 2011

FRCs friends at the Jubilee Campaign (http://jubileecampaign.wordpress.com/), which works actively against religious persecution and other evils, have sent out an urgent note about the distinguished Chinese human rights attorney Chen Guangcheng. Chen has worked against the Chinese governments notorious one child and forced sterilization policies. To read more and obtain a sample letter calling for the end of the brutalization of Chen and his family, click here http://jubileecampaign.wordpress.com/2011/07/05/execution-by-any-other-name-the-plight-of-chen-guangcheng/ and send your letter to the Chinese Embassy at: chinaembpress_us@mfa.gov.cn

Ashton Kutchers Tweet Tirade Against the Village Voice on Child Prostitution

by Cathy Ruse

July 5, 2011

Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore are trying to raise awareness about child trafficking and prostitution in the United States and have created a technology task force to create solutions to end human trafficking online. Their blunt slogan is, Real Men Dont Buy Girls, and theyre recruiting celebrities to make this pledge and spread the word. Heres a video from their launch.

Good for them; they could be spending all of their free time (and money) redecorating their homes.

The sleezy yet still influential Village Voice mocked Kutcher saying he wildly inflated the number of girls who are sex trafficked in the United States. That number is notoriously hard to get, but Kutcher and his program are working with NCMEC, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, a source to be trusted. Not only did the Voice play down the problem suggesting, ludicrously, that the number of actual arrests gives some scope of the problem — but Kutcher is right to point to the Voice as potentially part of the problem. Turn to their back pages and see dozens of ads for prostitutes. (They call people like us who support laws against prostitution prohibitionists.)

Good for Kutcher. He slammed the Voice with a tirade of late night Tweets. A sampling:

Hey @villagevoice hows the lawsuit from the 15 year old victim who alleges you helped enslave them going?

Hey @villagevoice speaking of data, maybe you can help me… How much $ did your “escorts” in you classifieds on backpage make last year?

Hey @villagevoice speaking of Data… How many of your girls selling themselves in your classifieds are you doing age verification on?

Hey @villagevoice Find another way to justify that YOUR property facilitates the sale of HUMAN BEINGS

Hey @villagevoice if you want to dispute the online data I’ve collected about the consumption of child porn or the hard facts from NCMEC lmk

Hey @villagevoice REAL MEN DON’T BUY GIRLS and REAL NEWS PUBLICATIONS DON’T SELL THEM

Read more on the Kutcher-Village Voice face-off here.

Iran Steps-Up Anti-Christian Persecution and What You Can Do To Help

by Rob Schwarzwalder

June 30, 2011

According to the respected anti-persecution ministry Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), an Iranian Christian pastor has been sentenced to death in Iran for, to put it simply, being a Christian.

CSW says that “the death sentence handed down in 2010 for the crime of apostasy, to evangelical house pastor Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, has reportedly been upheld by the third chamber of the Supreme Court in the Shia holy city of Qom. Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani of the Church of Iran denomination was arrested in his home city of Rasht on 13 October 2009 while attempting to register his church. His arrest is believed to have been due to his questioning of the Muslim monopoly on the religious instruction of children in Iran.”

According to the Voice of Martyrs, With (Pastor Nadarkhanis) sentence now upheld and confirmed, it is possible that the authorities will ask him to recant his faith and execute him without advance notice if he refuses —- a typical pattern of action taken by authorities in such cases.

This death sentence has been issued despite Iran being a signatory of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, whose Article 18 states:

Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.

Sadly, persecution of Christians in Iran is extensive:

A major spike in the harassment and arrest of Iranian Christians in recent months is revealing just how nervous the Islamic republic is about the prodigious success of house churches, say Iranian Christian leaders. At least 202 Christians in 24 cities faced arbitrary arrest between June 2010 and January 2011, according to Elam Ministries. Elam, run by Iranian expatriates, counted 80 arrests over 2008 and 2009 combined.

You can express your concern for Pastor Nadarkhani and ask for his release by calling the Iranian Interest Section at the Embassy of Pakistan in Washington, DC at (202) 965-4990. You can also contact the Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran at the United Nations: Email - iran@un.int; Phone - (212) 687-2020.

 

Jack Kevorkian R.I.P.?

by Cathy Ruse

June 6, 2011

For all his bravado, in the end Jack Kevorkian was a coward. Dr. Death promoted killing as virtue and convinced far too many people to rally around his evil creed. But, in the end, what he advocated for he ran away from personally. Notwithstanding all of his medical suffering, rather than pull out his suicide machine, the evil doctor instead reserved for himself a natural death. While his followers may still be lost, Kevorkian himself now knows the truth.

A New Birth of Religious Freedom in China

by Rob Schwarzwalder

May 23, 2011

Earlier this month, a coalition of Christian leaders in China drafted and sent a petition to the Chinese government calling for the religious liberty the Chinese Constitution claims to provide. “For the last six decades, the rights to liberty of religious faith granted to our countrys Christians by the Constitution of the Peoples Republic of China have not been put into practice,” wrote the 19 brave original signatories of the document.

The petition was generated by the growing crackdown on “unofficial” churches in China. As noted in this blog space in April, the Easter crackdown on the Shouwang Church in Beijing is part of a larger, nationwide campaign in which “unofficial” churches —- those that meet independent of government sanction —- are being targeted for repression, and their leaders for arrest.

Up to 70 million believers are part of the “unofficial” Christian movement in China. According to China scholar Dr. William Jeynes in a lecture last week at FRC, the Chinese government is pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into the construction of officially-recognized churches and seminaries, but the “unofficial” churches remain targets of the central Communist government. Why? Because, notes Jeynes, the government recognizes that Christianity leads to morality and productivity, but is also grounded in the idea that government’s authority is not final. This makes the Communist leaders in Beijing “nervous,” says Jeynes.

In one sense, well it should: Allegiance to Jesus ahead of the state means that authoritarian governments will not have complete control, something for which Beijing’s Party apparatus longs. Yet Christianity, followed faithfully, leads to good order, social stability, and economic growth. This is the clear outgrowth of New Testament faith, and is evidenced wherever Christianity has flourished.

China’s leadership must come to terms with a central paradox: Followers of Jesus have the potential to make the finest citizens, but only if the state does not seek to replace their primary and central loyalty to their Savior with allegiance to itself. Until this happens, the strange dance of Chinese Communism with Christianity eventually will dissolve into a forced march, one that leads to martyrdom and thus, to the greater consternation of the authorities, continued resurgence of “unofficial” faith.

U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) held an important hearing earlier this month on China’s continued attack on “unregistered” churches and “unofficial” Christians. In his opening remarks, Mr. Smith, long a champion on behalf of persecuted Christians worldwide, said:

Because the Chinese government demands that religious organizations serve the aims of the state, religious organizations must receive government approval to operate. Failure to do so means the groups lack legal protection and the membership is vulnerable to human rights abuses at the hands of government officials. However, many religious observers adhere to the tenet that they must render unto Caesar what is Caesars, but unto God what is Gods, and as a result, they are persecuted.

The Chinese Communist Party, in its historic atheistic commitment to exalting itself as God, cannot manipulate those whose knees bend only before King Jesus. Until it realizes this and allows those brave men and women to practice their faith openly, it will enjoy neither the respect of the world nor the benefits religious liberty brings any society.

For up-to-the-minute reports on the crisis of Christian faith in China, go to China Aid or Voice of the Martyrs.

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