Religious persecution is on the rise worldwide

By Rob Schwarzwalder

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 world’s 198 countries (12%).” 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 world’s 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.

About Stan Guthrie

Stan Guthrie is an editor at large for Christianity Today magazine and for the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview. His latest book is God's Story in 66 Verses. He also is author of All that Jesus Asks: How His Questions Can Teach and Transform Us, Missions in the Third Millennium: 21 Key Trends for the 21st Century, and A Concise Guide to Bible Prophecy. He is co-author of The Sacrament of Evangelism. Besides authoring, writing, and editing books, Stan is a literary agent, bringing together good authors, good books, and good publishers. Stan writes the monthly Priorities colum for BreakPoint.org. He has appeared on National Public Radio's €œTell Me More,€ WGN's Milt Rosenberg program, and many Christian shows, including The Eric Metaxas Show and Moody Radio'€™s €œNew Day Florida.€ A licensed minister and an inspirational speaker, he served as moderator for the Christian Book Expo panel discussion, Does the God of Christianity Exist, and What Difference Does It Make?
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