Tag archives: International Religious Liberty

Standing Against Religious Persecution in Communist Countries

by Anna Longbons

March 8, 2019

Bob Fu from China Aid recently joined a panel discussion at FRC to highlight the religious freedom abuses transpiring in China. Similarly, President Trump’s recent summit with Kim Jong Un brought renewed attention to the humanitarian and religious liberty crisis in North Korea. Both Chinese and North Korean citizens live under communist regimes. Although much of communism dissipated when the Iron Curtain fell away, it still survives in five countries, including North Korea, Vietnam, Laos, China, and Cuba. In all five nations, people of faith suffer persecution.

Divided Allegiance

To live as a Christian in a communist nation is to live with competing loyalties. Communism demands allegiance, but so does Christ. Because religion threatens their authority, communists regulate religion or try to abolish it altogether.

Historically, communism and atheism have worked hand in glove. Marx famously referred to religion as “the opium of the people,” while Lenin asserted that “a Marxist must be a materialist, i.e., an enemy of religion.” More recently, the Communist Party of China has reiterated that all party members must ascribe to an atheistic worldview.

International Christian Concern lists Marxist persecution as one of the top three forms of religious persecution. Likewise, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) groups all five communist nations on its top two tiers of religious hostility. Many conservatives object to communism for economic and political reasons. However, the tie between Marxism and religious persecution gives Christians added reason to learn about and stand against communism and the accompanying persecution that these regimes inflict on people of faith.

North Korea

USCIRF reports thatthe North Korean government’s approach toward religion and belief is among the most hostile and repressive in the world.” Open Doors lists North Korea as the top country for Christian persecution on its world watch list. In North Korea, the government mandates the worship of the ruling Kim family. Because of the government’s hostility toward religion, many believers hide their faith to defend themselves and their families. Believers face arrest, prison, and death because of their faith.

Vietnam

Like North Korea, Vietnam also ranks as a Country of Particular Concern with USCIRF. Open Doors reports that although believers enjoy greater liberty in Vietnam than in North Korea, they still live with the risk of persecution. Believers encounter both racial and religious oppression. They also suffer attacks from gangs that may be state-sponsored. 

Laos

In nearby Laos, Christians also face persecution. USCIRF reports that “the Lao government tightly manages religious groups much in the same way it controls any individual or group it perceives could deviate from the state’s agenda or who expresses dissent or criticism.”

China

The Chinese Communist Party took a more direct role in governing religion in 2017, which triggered a subsequent increase in religious persecution. China Aid reports that “more than 1,000,000 people were persecuted in 2018, which is three-and-a-half times more than those recorded in 2017. Of those, more than 10,000 church leaders were persecuted, which is five times greater than those recorded in 2017.” China Aid’s 2018 annual report chronicles case after case of heightened persecution in China, from churches being demolished to school children being questioned for their faith.

Cuba

The Office of Religious Affairs in Cuba works for the Cuban Communist Party, giving the communists great authority over believers. According to USCIRF, “the government continues to interfere in religious groups’ internal affairs and actively limits, controls, and monitors their religious practice, access to information, and communications through a restrictive system of laws and policies, surveillance, and harassment.” A number of religious groups spoke out recently against the new constitution being proposed for the country, which would curtail religious freedom.

Protecting Religious Freedom Through Education, Donation, and Prayer

Christians can stand against communist persecution by educating themselves, praying for those affected by persecution, and supporting human rights advocacy organizations. Through education, Americans can better understand and influence our foreign policy regarding these communist nations. Christians can also donate to advocacy organizations who are working on the ground to provide material and spiritual aid to the persecuted, such as China Aid, Voice of the Martyrs, Open Doors, and International Christian Concern. These organizations also offer information that equips Christians to pray for the specific needs of their suffering brothers and sisters around the world.

Christianity threatens communism, because communism depends upon citizens’ brainwashed, undivided loyalty. However, Christianity bolsters democracy, because democracy rests on natural law and personal freedom. Therefore, preserving democracy means preserving religious freedom, while standing against communism means standing against oppression. By opposing communism worldwide through education, financial support, and prayer, we support our brothers and sisters and safeguard our own country. 

More information on the persecuted church can be found at FRC’s Remember the Persecuted webpage.

Anna Longbons is an intern with FRC Action.

The Power of Prayer and What It Should Mean for Christians in America

by James Selvey

October 16, 2018

Andrew Brunson is not hesitating to fulfill his pastoral duties, even after just returning home from Turkey after two years of imprisonment. The pastor visited the Oval Office on October 13, asking the President if he could pray for him. “I need it probably more than anyone else in this room, so that would be very nice, thank you,” the President replied.

Brunson’s prayer follows: “Lord God, I ask that you pour out your Holy Spirit on President Trump. That you give him supernatural wisdom to accomplish all the plans you have for this country and for him. I ask that you give him wisdom on how to lead this country into righteousness. I ask that you give him perseverance and endurance and courage to stand for truth. I ask that you protect him from slander from enemies, from those who would undermine. I ask that you make him a great leader for this country. Fill him with your wisdom and strength and perseverance, and we bless him. May he be a great blessing to our country. In Jesus’ name, we bless you. Amen.”

Brunson’s wife Norine, also offered condolence in prayer, “I pray that the spirit of the Lord rest on the president. The spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord. Amen.”

The emphasis of Pastor Brunson and his wife’s prayers lays a heart-warming and encouraging message for the Christian community. No matter what trial we may be experiencing, Christians are called to be God-conscious in their lives to allow God to work through the people who are representing us as a nation. George Washington once said, “It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor.” Prayer is an action we take of opening a door to allow God to answer the needs we place before Him. In addition, prayer isn’t solely the act of supporting one another, but also the allowance of God to work in our hearts and be changed more to reflect His image instead of of our own. Our President, Congressmen, Supreme Court justices, and those even at the state and local levels, need our prayers of support for decisions to be made with prudence, since what they do will effectively either prosper or harm us. Romans 1:28 forewarns us of those who don’t acknowledge God. Those who don’t are declared by God to be given “up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.” Without the action of prayer, God cannot lead us in unity or humble us to live in His fruit of humility, kindness, patience, and joy. We will be more susceptible to giving in to our own ambitions.

American Founders such as Samuel Adams heeded prayer as a necessity to keep the blessings of God abounding throughout our nation. “May every citizen in the army and in the country have a proper sense of the Deity upon his mind and an impression of that declaration recorded in the Bible: ‘Him that honoreth Me I will honor, but he that despiseth Me shall be lightly esteemed’” [1 Samuel 2:30]. Mankind alone cannot hope to obtain the right to true wisdom and understanding if they do not understand the precedent of acknowledging the Creator. The Creator who crafted us in principle and love to serve each other under the guidelines of the teachings of Jesus Christ, who He himself arose “early in the morning, while it was still dark,” (Mark 1:35) to pray to the Father. Jesus came to earth as a servant, to be obedient to the Father and submit Himself to His will. If we truly desire an eternal relationship with the Father, then we must abide by the Son’s example. 

Let us remember what Abraham Lincoln once said: “[I]t is the duty of nations as well … and to recognize the sublime truth announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord [Psalm 33:12]… . But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined in the deceitfulness of our hearts that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace — too proud to pray to the God that made us.”

In our time, let us never allow ourselves to be too proud or distracted by what happens on this earth to drive us astray from praying to our Father in heaven for each other and our leaders. Take some time in a quiet place. He’s always willing to listen.

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