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Two Hundred Million Christians Persecuted Worldwide

WEA Report to United Nations

World Evangelical Alliance (formerly World Evangelical Fellowship)


E-Mail: http://www.worldevangelical.org


World Evangelical Alliance Reports Two Hundred Million Christians Persecuted Worldwide

The Geneva Report 2002 revealed that an unprecedented number of Christians now face disinformation, discrimination, and outright persecution worldwide. It detailed specific cases of persecution in India, Greece, Cyprus, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan, China and Sudan. The Religious Liberty Commission of World Evangelical Alliance presented the findings at the United Nations Commission on Human Rights on April 8, 2002.

“We estimate that there are more than 200 million Christians in the world today who do not have full human rights as defined by the UN Declaration of Human Rights, simply because they are Christians. We believe that this is the largest group in the world without full human rights because of their beliefs,” states Johan Candelin, director of the WEA Religious Liberty Commission. Candelin delivered the report to the UN Commission on Human Rights at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.

The report addressed several key issues and questions. Key issues included advancing religious freedom at home and mobilizing a constituency in support of international religious liberty.

Questions the report raised with the UN include:

§ why are so many Christian persecuted?

§ what conditions create persecution?

§ how were the events of September 11th possible?

§ what created this intolerance and could we have done something to prevent it?

WEA called on UN member states to give greater attention to the practical implementation of basic provisions of existing international norms that protect religious freedom and promote religious tolerance. Many other basic rights depend on freedom of religion–the right of free speech, assembly, education, parenting and travel.

Following are a few highlights from the report.

“Religious freedom is being violated in almost every part of the world and there is an urgent need to uphold the right to religious freedom for all people, regardless of faith, creed, language, nationality, race, color, social origin, gender, or aboriginal or other culture.

“The national and local governments ought to respect the right of every person to practice, teach, propagate, change and observe his or her religion or belief. The government-sponsored gross violations of religious freedom such as genocide, murder, slavery, and torture based on religious faith or belief, as well as the destruction of holy places, should be the subject of sanctions and other exercises of foreign policy powers by nations adhering to the principles of religious freedom.

“No country has the right to label traditional Christian teaching or meetings as ‘evil sects’ or agents for ‘foreign’ or ‘hostile sources’ thus giving themselves some sort of ‘moral right’ to imprison Christians and to send the pastors to prison or labor camps. Neither can the expression ‘disturbing social harmony’ be used as a reason to deny someone’s human rights if the country has signed the UN declaration.

“The most challenged and attacked point concerning the changing of one’s religion as a basic right arises from the question of freedom of thought. Even at the time of the drafting of article 18 of the UN Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the right to change one’s religion was particularly disputed.

“The opponents of this right were primarily the Islamic states, led by Saudi Arabia. The initial draft had the expression ‘freedom to maintain or to change his religion.’ It was not possible to reach agreement on this formula, and the compromise, after long discussions, was the wording “to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice”. This was accepted without dissent. No reservations were amended to this part of the article.

“When the Taliban destroyed the Buddhist statues last year, they sent a powerful message to the world that religious totalitarianism is a denial of pluralism of faiths. Bin Laden may be an extremist but the problem is not a handful of terrorists. We are fooling ourselves if we do not see that without the acceptance of religious tolerance by all states on the planet, future September 11th attacks can be repeated. That is why we want the Commission on Human Rights of the United Nations to speak forcefully on this matter and to hold responsible those who violate religious freedom.

“The question: Why are so many Christians persecuted?

“It seems illogical that people who stand for sincerity, honesty, truth, honor, friendship, hard work, and compassion for the weak should be considered to pose a threat to society, or should give rise to feelings of outright hatred. Yet this is often the reason Christians are persecuted. Here are some of the common problems and misconceptions about Christian minority populations:

1) The growing number of Christians is believed to threaten both the national identity and the majority religion. In many cases the two are linked.

2) Christians are often outspoken for democracy and human rights.

3) Christians stand up for those who are broken, weak, handicapped, and for those whose human rights are being violated. In countries where these downtrodden groups make up the majority, those who wield power become very uneasy if any of these groups is caused to stir or to react.

4) Christians supposedly represent a Western influence, especially from the United States.

5) Christians pose a threat to existing links between religion and the economy.

6) Christians cannot be spiritually controlled by the state. They worship “another King.”

7) Christians have “contacts” with other Christians around the world.

8) Some naive Christian organizations lack wisdom and cultural understanding, receive support from abroad, and use words like “crusade” and “claiming the territory.” These create panic and fear among locals, who interpret them as military terms.

9) Other religions feel directly threatened by the growing Christian church.

10) A poor understanding of real Christianity (disinformation) coupled with uncertainty towards anything new.”

The full text of the Geneva Report is available from http://www.worldevangelical.org.

About World Evangelical Alliance

World Evangelical Alliance seeks to see the world reached for Christ. The transforming Christian presence of a discipled nation of churches and people brings growing righteousness, increasing justice, decreasing poverty, and the sharing of resources to meet human needs. Through its network of 115 national and regional evangelical fellowships, WEA represents 160 million evangelicals worldwide.


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