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IRD Advises Church Officials: Take a Walk

ICC Note: When North Korea freedom week ends we must continue to keep the people of North Korea in our prayers and keep fighting for their rights.

4/24/07 North Korea (Institute on Religion & Democracy)— The third annual North Korea Freedom Week is taking place in Washington, DC, and around the world this week. Events sponsored by the North Korea Freedom Coalition, of which the IRD is a member, run through Saturday, April 28. The North Korea Genocide Exhibit includes paintings of emaciated, ragged figures, and mementoes such as items of clothing retrieved from drowned refugees. It transports us to a world that is almost inconceivable. But it is particularly a reproach to church leaders who close their eyes to North Korea ‘s egregious human rights abuses.

IRD Religious Liberty Programs Director Faith J. H. McDonnell commented:

“This is just the right time for church members and church officials to discover the truth about North Korea . I especially recommend that they visit the genocide exhibit, an extensive display of artwork and memorabilia documenting the full gamut of human rights abuses by the Kim Jong-Il regime.

“The National Council of Churches (NCC), and even some evangelical groups, have criticized the United States for putting pressure on this Stalinist regime. But they rarely speak of North Korea ‘s persecution of Christians and its sweeping oppression. We need to end the innocent ignorance of most church members about North Korea . At the same time, we need to disabuse some church leaders of their more willful ignorance.

“In November 2003, the NCC and Church World Service sponsored a trip to North Korea . The North Koreans arranged for the delegation to visit a church in the Nangnang district of Pyongyang, but kept it away from the thousands of Christians and other political prisoners in the regime’s prison camps. The church officials had no real criticism for the lack of religious freedom, or for government-sponsored starvation, only for U.S. ‘aggression’ and escalation of ‘war rhetoric.’