Tag archives: Religious Persecution

Another Obama Administration Attack on Marriage, Religious Liberty

by Rob Schwarzwalder

March 23, 2012

Last year, we celebrated when the Supreme Court upheld the Ninth Circuit Court’s ruling that the Christian charity World Vision was within its legal rights to fire three employees who, after signing the ministrys doctrinal statement, admitted to denying the Deity of Christ.

Now, World Vision and other international Christian ministries are once again being pressured to jettison a key biblical teaching only this time, on marriage. According to Christianity Today, the U.S. Agency for International Development has issued a new federal policy that strongly encourages all contractors to develop anti-discrimination policies covering employees’ sexual orientation.

According to World Vision Senior Vice-President Kent Hill, all World Vision U.S.employees must sign a statement of faith and agree to a standard of conduct that limits sexuality to a God-ordained covenant between a man and a woman.

But World Vision is hardly alone: many other Christian charities that operate abroad could be affected. Many of them belong to the Accord Network (formerly the Alliance of Evangelical Relief and Development Organizations), whose Executive Director, Chad Hayward, warns of a chilling effect on the federal governments willingness to partner with Evangelical ministries as a result of the new encouragement.

Interestingly, the only way I have been able to access the text of this new “encouragement” is by going to the Web site of the Washington Blade, a homosexual newspaper, which has printed a PDF of the USAID letter. A review of the USAID Web site reveals neither publication of this announcement nor any news release relating to it.

The Obama Administration was quick to deny any potential discrimination: According to USAID spokesman Drew Bailey, The LGBT anti-discrimination policy is not binding … Nothing in the policy precludes our continuing strong partnerships with religious organizations or otherwise affects contracting or grant decisions. We have strong, productive relationships with many faith-based organizations, and [they] will not be adversely affected by this policy.”

Let us hope. Yet if thats the case if the religious convictions of Christian relief and anti-poverty groups is, in fact, not only recognized but respected why send a formal government letter with the inference of a veiled threat to ministries that affirm the historic, orthodox Christian belief that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, for life.

Let us do more than hope: Let us pray that this tacit attack on religious liberty will not impede the ability of Christian groups to partner with Washington in providing aid to those so in need. And let us act, by contacting the Obama Administration and our elected federal representatives to express to them that this potentially massive violation of our first freedom freedom of religion will be stopped.

To contact the White House, click here.

The Nuba People of Sudan: Black, Christian, and Under Attack

by Rob Schwarzwalder

February 27, 2012

The persecution of professing Christians is, in one sense, indiscriminate: it knows no race or region. Ethnicity, denomination, language, and historic customs of comity and protection are immaterial to those who would crush the men, women, and children who claim the Name of Christ.

One of the most difficult and immediate of such crises is occurring now in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan. According to U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf, who recently visited the region, the government of Sudanese president Omar Hassan al-Bashir, a recognized international war criminal, has instituted a campaign of “ethnic cleansing, mass murder and rape, all carried out by uniformed soldiers of the Khartoum government” (Source). In tandem with this effort, al-Bashir is having his air force conduct bombing raids of refugee camps, placing thousands at risk of being killed or maimed.

Many of the Nuba are Christians. They are also dark-complected, which in the Arab supremacist philosophy of al-Bashir makes for a deadly combination. Our U.N. Ambassador, Susan Rice, said recently that “this conflict has affected more than 500,000 people and if there is not a substantial new inflow of aid by March this year, the situation in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile will reach stage 4 of an emergency which is one step short of a full scale famine. This is exceedingly grave, and underscores the urgency of the situation.

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof yesterday published a moving column titled, The Man Who Stayed Behind. Its the story of Ryan Boyette, an American missionary who served with Samaritans Purse *. When, out of concern for their workers, Samaritans Purse asked all its staff to leave the threatened areas, Ryan and his Nubian wife chose to remain with the persecuted and endangered Nubians. After intense prayer, he chose to resign from his position with Samaritans Purse to do so.

Visit the Websites of Christian ministries the Persecution Project website or Save the Nuba to learn more about the crisis, or read about how the Samaritans Purse ministry is working actively to help those in greatest need. Also be sure to visit FRCs RealCompassion.org to link to Christian ministries helping the persecuted and oppressed around the world.

* To listen to FRC President Tony Perkins recent interview with Samaritans Purse founder Franklin Graham, click here.

The Global War on Christians

by Rob Schwarzwalder

February 6, 2012

The persecution of Christians globally is finally getting some notice in the mainstream press. The cover story in Newsweek is titled, “The War on Christians,” and is authored by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Ali is a former Muslim who works at the conservative American Enterprise Institute.

You read that right. Newsweek - the repository of condescending liberalism, the magazine of record of the self-annointed Center-Left elite - has published a compelling piece by a bona fide “person of the Right.”

Why? Because even the Left has to acknowledge that Christians are under the gun - quite literally - throughout the developing world. To read about the latest, and ever-expanding, attacks on Christians in nations where they are a minority (and that would be all of Asia and the Middle East and most of Africa), go to the International Christian Concern’s www.persecution.org and Voice of the Martyrs’ www.persecution.com. From Nigeria to Pakistan to China, the attacks on those who profess the Name of Christ are numerous and brutal. As summarized by Dr. John Eibner, president of Christian Solidarity Worldwide,

A student beaten to death for wearing a cross necklace. A pastor sentenced to death for the crime of leaving Islam. Peaceful Christian protestors run over by tanks. This is the reality for Christians in North Africa and the Middle East today. Christians are under attack from radical Islamist groups and, in some cases, their own governments.

Yet as the distinguished scholar and diplomat Dr. Tom Farr, who was the first director of the State Departments Office of International Religious Freedom and who has spoken here at FRC, said recently, The administration has invested far more energy and resources in the international advancement of LGBT rights than it has the advancement of religious freedom.

The Obama Administration is willing to abrogate religious liberty here at home for the sake of an extreme political and social agenda (for example, visit our website to learn how President Obama is willing to violate historic conscience rights to bolster his political base and advance abortion-on-demand). After all, who really needs the First Amendment, right?

It is little wonder federal efforts to defend religious liberty abroad are so tepid. We cannot defend abroad what we are diminishing here at home.

Responding to Islamism and Persecution of the Church

by Rob Schwarzwalder

January 26, 2012

Persecution of self-identified Christians has become a pandemic in the developing world. For Catholics, Evangelical Protestants, Copts and others, making the simple assertion that they follow Jesus Christ can lead to abuse, eviction, disfigurement, and far too often death.

Today at FRC, we heard a remarkable and very probing lecture by Dr. Patrick Sookhdeo, a profound theologian and himself a former Muslim, about the way the church is responding to the threat of radical Islam both abroad and here in the United States.

Dr. Sookhdeo drew a striking parallel between the church in Germany during the rise of Nazism and the way Christians should be responding to the Islamists who would undermine the very foundations of representative self-government and religious liberty.

Christians are called to love and minister to Muslims and also stand against an agenda which is inherently oppressive and even violent. Dr. Sookhdeo offered wise counsel about how we can do both. You can watch his lecture here.

In addition, there are excellent summaries of anti-Christian persecution worldwide in The Catholic Thing and the Voice of the Martyrs newsroom.

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

Religious Persecution on the Rise Internationally

by Rob Schwarzwalder

August 9, 2011

[caption id=”attachment_6387” align=”alignright” width=”275” caption=”Source: Pew Forum, "Rising Restrictions on Religion"”][/caption]

An arresting new study, issued by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, demonstrates that “restrictions on religious beliefs and practices rose between mid-2006 and mid-2009 in 23 of the worlds 198 countries (12%).” However, as the study notes, this 12% figure is misleading: “Because several countries with increasing restrictions on religion are very populous, however, the increases affect a much larger share of people than of states. More than 2.2 billion people nearly a third (32%) of the worlds total population of 6.9 billion live in countries where either government restrictions on religion or social hostilities involving religion rose substantially over the three-year period studied.”

The Pew report is well quantified; “The researchers involved in this process recorded only concrete reports about specific government laws, policies and actions, as well as incidents of religious violence or intolerance by social groups; they did not rely on the commentaries or opinions of the sources.” In other words, the researchers can back up what they claim with hard data, which makes their findings all the more disturbing. Family Research Council believes that religious liberty is a right bestowed by God, which is why we advocate for it here at home and stand with those persecuted for their faith around the world.

In comments to a group of the Society of Friends (Quakers) in 1789, George Washington noted that “The liberty enjoyed by the people of these states of worshiping Almighty God agreebly to their conscience, is not only among the choicest of their blessings, but also of their rights.” The right of religious liberty is endowed to all men, everywhere, as each of us is made in God’s image and likeness and merits the freedom conscientiously to follow Him. When government interferes with that right, it oversteps its God-given authority. Sadly, such overstepping is far too common in our time.

Christians can write or email the embassies of offending countries, respectfully calling on them to stop persecution of believers in their nations. Some can go to the regions affected to minister to those who are oppressed. Most can give to organizations that help fight persecution (see FRC’s Real Compassion to learn about ministries that work for international religious liberty). And all of us can pray. Let us.

Iranian Pastor Continues to Face Death Unless He Denies Christ

by Rob Schwarzwalder

August 4, 2011

In late June, FRC reported on the story of Iranian pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, who has been sentenced to death because of his “apostasy” — he left Islam and has become a Christian and house church leader.

Now, according to Compass Direct news, Pastor Nadarkhani “awaits the outcome of a judicial investigation into his spiritual background to see if he will be executed or, if possible, forced to become a Muslim, according to Christian groups with ties in Iran.” Yet “even if the investigation releases him from the charge of apostasy, it is likely the charge of evangelizing Muslims will still carry a lengthy prison sentence, sources said.”

In other words, the Iranian judicial system is trying to manipulate the pastor into saying he was forced to convert to Christianity as a teenager. Here’s what the Iranian court said about his appeal to his death sentence: According to Part 2 of Article 265 of the Islamic Republic Criminal Law, this case was received by and must be returned to the state court of Gilan Section 11, and further investigated to prove that from puberty (15 years) to 19 he was not Muslim by his acquaintances, relatives, local elders, and Muslims he frequented. He must repent [of] his Christian faith if this is the case. No research has been done to prove this; if it can be proved that he was a practicing Muslim as an adult and has not repented, the execution will be carried out.

The death sentence was issued even though there “is no Iranian criminal statute requiring the execution of those who abandon Islam. In September 2008 members of the Iranian parliament began writing a law instituting the death penalty for men, and life imprisonment for women, who leave Islam.” Instead, according to Jason DeMars, president of a ministry that works with Iranian believers, “the judges who issued the ruling appear to be relying on at least one fatwa, or religious edict, written by the Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, leader of the 1979 Iranian Revolution, and on edicts issued by Grand Ayatollah Naser Makarem Shirazi, a current religious leader in Iran. The edicts are based upon Shiite interpretations of the Quran and Hadith, a written record of the sayings and actions of Muhammad.”

Thankfully, Christians around the world are praying for Pastor Nadarkhani, his family, and for the hearts and minds of those making a decision about his fate (for example, see the Swedish Christian site World Today). We can be assured that the God Who knows the hairs of our heads is in control, even as we petition Him to strengthen this courageous brother in Christ and deliver him from his persecutors.

In addition to praying, call 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.

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