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ICC Note: We must continue to fight for religious freedom around the world.

Religious Persecution

11/13/06 (AINA) Religious freedom is something that nearly all Americans, including Christians, take for granted. Unfortunately, many of our brethren around the world know better.

A recent article in Time magazine described the precarious relationship of Chinese Christians to their government. As Time put it, “openly religious” Chinese, by which Time meant Christians, live under the “constant threat” of a “brutal government response” to the practice of their faith.

The situation is even worse in the Islamic world: From Indonesia to Nigeria , the rise of radical Islam has been accompanied by the end of any pretense of tolerance towards Christians.

In Iraq , just about the only thing the Sunni, Shiites and Kurds can agree on is their dislike for the Assyrians, Iraq ‘s indigenous Christian population.

As a result, many members of what is arguably the oldest Christian community in the world are leaving their ancient homeland. A similar Advertisement exodus is underway among Christian Palestinians.

In Egypt , the Copts, while nominally allowed to practice their faith, must overcome legalized harassment almost every step of the way. Sometimes, the harassment turns to murder. Last year, three Copts were killed, and a nun was stabbed in anti-Copts riots.

It isn’t only one-party states and Islamic countries that violate religious freedom. On Oct. 4, Hindu extremists kidnapped and tortured a Christian convert. This is part of a larger pattern that includes forced “re-conversions” to Hinduism. What’s even more outrageous is that perpetrators include members of India ‘s former ruling party, the BJP.

Here in the United States , infringement of religious freedom takes many forms. The attempt to remove the InnerChange Freedom Initiative, launched by Prison Fellowship from prisons because they are, in effect, “too Christian,” is one example.

Other ministries are experiencing similar difficulties: For instance, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship has been banned from several campuses while other, shall we say, less wholesome groups are fully allowed to operate.

You need to understand now that we can no longer take religious freedom for granted, at home or abroad.

Public officials need to be informed and accountable on this issue, for us and for everyone around the world.

We need to let them know that they are hardly alone in their hour of trial.

By Manuel A. Mejia Sr.

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