“Our nation was founded on the idea that our rights do not come from government, but from God,” President Donald Trump said before the United Nations Sept. 23. “Regrettably, the freedom enjoyed in America is rare in the world.” He explained that 80% of the world does not have freedom of religion and instead faces religious persecution.
“Today, with one clear voice, the U.S. calls on the nations of the world to end religious persecution,” Trump said. “As president, protecting religious freedom is one of my highest priorities and always has been.
It was the strongest, indeed the only, real defense of religious freedom given by a U.S. president before this world body. It merits the accolades of all people.
“The United States of America calls upon the nations of the world to end religious persecution, to stop the crimes against prisoners of faith, to release prisoners of conscience,” Trump continued. “Too often people in positions of power preach diversity while silencing, shunning or censoring the faithful,” Trump said. “True tolerance means respecting the right of all people to express their deeply held religious beliefs. I ask all nations to join us in this urgent moral duty.”
It was not a surprise to the religious community. Before the event, the White House issued a statement: “The president is working to broaden international support for ongoing efforts to protect religious freedom in the wake of increasing persecution of people on the basis of their beliefs and a growing number of attacks on and destruction of houses of worship by state and non-state actors.”
How serious is the danger to Christianity, which is said to be “by far the most persecuted” faith on the earth in an April 2019 study commissioned by the United Kingdom’s Foreign Office? Dede Laugesen, executive director of Save the Persecuted Christians coalition, recently said, “More Christians have died for their faith over the last 100 years than in all prior centuries since Jesus’ time,” according to Troy Anderson’s article “A Dangerous Time to be a Christian,” in New American, June 3.
“The main impact of such genocidal acts against Christians is exodus. Christianity now faces the possibility of being wiped out in parts of the Middle East where its roots go back furthest. In Palestine, Christians number below 1.5%; in Syria the Christian population has declined from 1.7 million in 2011 to below 450,000 and in Iraq, Christian numbers have slumped from 1.5 million before 2003 to below 120,000 today,” he said.
Open Doors, the lead organization assisting persecuted believers around the world, said the persecution of Christians includes being “beaten, tortured, beheaded, crucified, raped, imprisoned or enslaved.” Believers also face “losing their livelihoods, homes and assets as a result of their faith.” They publish an annual World Watch List ranking the 50 countries “where it’s most dangerous to follow Jesus” and invite help in bringing religious oppression to a halt. Obtain the report at www.OpenDoors.com.
Such oppression is intensifying in the Middle East, Asia and Africa. Indeed “each month, on average, 345 Christians are killed for faith-related reasons, 105 churches and Christian buildings are burned or attacked and 219 Christians are detained without trial, arrested, sentenced or imprisoned.”
Again, how serious is the danger to Christianity? “Today, nearly a quarter billion Christians experience high levels of persecution in the countries on Open Door’s World Watch List,” he said. This number translates to “one in nine Christians experiences high levels of persecution.”
Religious oppression is not always government sponsored, but when it is, oppression is amplified. Ironically a competing world religion, radical Islam, is credited with fueling much of the persecution. North Korea, a socialist atheist state with an estimated 50,000 Christians, is Open Door’s most oppressive nation followed in order by eight radical Islamic states: Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, Pakistan, Sudan, Eritrea, Yemen and Iran. It explains their “intent to erase all evidence of the Christian presence.” No. 10 is India with its Hindu nationalists, ironically another and competing world religion.
China, another socialist and primarily atheist state, has approximately 90 million Christians and is ranked 27 in the World Watch List. A vast majority of America’s Christmas trees, lights and decorations come from Chinese prison labor. China does not use these symbols. Christians already face required registration of their churches and endure the jailing of their pastors and the closing and demolishing of their churches. The government wants to install cameras in and outside their churches and are attempting to censor and “approve the theology and sermons of pastors.”
Thanks to Google, Chinese Christians face restrictions that are not yet in place in other countries, such as facial recognition and the government’s social credit score technologies. The latter “rates a person’s trustworthiness” or loyalty from the collection of a person’s “finances (records), social-media activities, credit history, online purchases, health records, legal matters, tax payments and the people they associate with – information gleaned from the nation’s hundreds of millions of surveillance cameras.” Higher scores give people privileges and lower scores the opposite. Christianity, considered a threat to socialism, is a detriment.
Sadly most Americans will never know of Trump’s fight in the United Nations for religious liberty for the nations of the earth. Seemingly none of the many good things he does are covered by the establishment press. If this story is new to you, you should consider changing news sources.
Dr. Harold Pease is a syndicated columnist and an expert on the United States Constitution. He has dedicated his career to studying the writings of the Founding Fathers and to applying that knowledge to current events. He taught history and political science from this perspective for over 30 years at Taft College. To read more of his weekly articles, visit www.LibertyUnderFire.org.