Last week, North Korean dictator Kim Jong –un reportedly ordered the deaths of 33 Christians who received money for building underground churches from a South Korean Baptist missionary. The dictator, who “won” his reelection with 100% of the vote and 100% voter turnout has not spared his own relatives from his anger, killing his uncle and all of his uncle’s relatives, including children and grandchildren, last year for allegedly “attempting to overthrow the government.” He is raising these same charges against these Christians and their fate, and that of their families and churches is unknown as of this writing.
According to an in-depth study by the Pew Research Center, 33% of the 198 countries and territories had high religious hostilities in 2012, which has increased from 20% as of mid-2007, with interval studies demonstrating a steady increase. The study indicates that the largest increase in hostilities was in the Middle East and North Africa which experienced political uprisings in 2010-11. […]
By Stephen N. Allred — Ultimately, 2013 was a rough year for Christians in many parts of the world who were harassed, raped, murdered and persecuted on account of their faith. In comparison, American Christians, though they faced some challenges, fared rather well.
On September 28, President Obama picked up the phone and called Iranian President Rouhani who was traveling back to JFK airport after speaking at the United Nations in New York. In addition to discussing Iran’s nuclear-enrichment program, the presidents spoke about Pastor Saeed Abedini, an American citizen, who was arrested because of his faith while visiting Iran over a year ago. This was the first time since the Islamic revolution of 1979 that a U.S. President has spoken with an Iranian president. Secretary of State John Kerry and the U.S. Congress have also been calling for Pastor Saeed’s release.
Though, in its current form, the charter is limited to regulating the religious expression of government employees there can be little doubt that given time, considering the inflationary nature of state bureaucracy to expand its influence in citizen’s private lives, this policy of “neutrality” will move further toward the private sector employees.
By Michael Peabody — Despite serious public opposition to involvement in another quagmire in the Middle East, chances are the United States will soon be involved in the two-year-old civil war in Syria. While there are many questions regarding how this will help or hinder national foreign policy aims, few have considered how a shift in power could affect the religious freedom of the people of Syria.
The Assiut Adventist Church, located approximately 220 miles south of Cairo, was attacked by a mob and heavily damaged after it was set on fire. The pastor and his wife hid in their upstairs apartment and were not found by the attackers, who set the building on fire. The pastor and his wife were rescued from the burning building by Muslim neighbors.
Sajjad Masih, 29, was convicted of sending blasphemous text messages in 2011, despite his accuser’s subsequent retraction and prosecutors’ failure to produce any evidence of his involvement.
Today Australia faces a moral question for our age. This time it isn’t desperate European Jews searching for a sanctuary, it is desperate Iranians fleeing one of the world’s most repressive regimes. It is Iraqi Christians who have been murdered, bombed and beaten unmercifully since the invasion that we were a part of. It is shell-shocked Syrians caught between a despotic ruler on one side and jihadists on the other.
Since its creation in 1998, the USCIRF has been controversial, both at home and abroad. At home, criticism typically focuses on the charge that the US should be more willing to assist CPC nations to improve their record rather than just putting them on a “blacklist” for the world to see. Abroad, nations have frequently criticized the US for its attitude of “arrogance” in thinking that it is superior to other sovereign nations and entitled to criticize them for religious freedom abuses when the US hardly has a spotless record itself. Nevertheless, after 15 years of activity, there is little doubt that the USCIRF reports have often motivated CPC nations to improve their religious freedom records. USCIRF’s work has also exposed serious religious freedom abuses that should be brought to the world’s attention.