We Are in World War III
“Had we taken religious freedom seriously earlier, after the war, under Bush, then this [ISIS persecution] would not have happened. And we can’t afford to not take it seriously now.” That was just one of the sobering statements at yesterday’s policy lecture on the religious persecution around the world.
Former Congressman Frank Wolf joined FRC to talk about his recent trip to Nigeria, highlighting areas of concern and violence by radical Islamists that far too few seem willing to talk about and stand up to. Not only do we need to stop radical Islamist killing of Christians, he pointed out, but we need to care for the girls who have been kidnapped and are traumatized from being raped by their captors. They need proper care and attention; this component is as much a human trafficking problem as it is a religious freedom problem.
Pervez Rafique, a Pakistani activist and politician, gave insight into the unique problems in Pakistan, such as a culture whipped into a frenzy by radical Islamist teachers. While that government has its own problems, when it does want to bring people to justice for murder of those accused of apostasy, radical Islamist mobs often intercept and murder the accused, while praising the killers! Such are the problems we face from failing to encourage and foster reform from within Islam. Right now the largest number of victims of radical Islamists are other Muslims. If more Muslim communities are going to promote religious freedom, representatives of that faith community must be encouraged (and protected) as they speak out. They need all the help they can get.
Yet we do them no favors by failing to call out radical Islam for what it is, and failing to address it as the root of many religious freedom problems in the world today. We need our government and all governments to properly name the problem before addressing it, as panelist Tom Farr noted. Dr. Farr also commented on possible solutions in the Middle East now that the United States recognized the genocide occurring there. One solution would be a protected zone, strictly monitored to ensure that different religious communities are living in peace with one another. This could serve as a model for other trouble spots around the world.
Panelist Tina Ramirez also spoke about what her organization Hardwired Global is doing to promote religious freedom in the Middle East: bringing together key activists from diverse religious communities and having them work together in interactive training sessions designed to help them understand their need for religious freedom. Many of these individuals have never interacted with those of other faith communities. Yet as they engage personally, perspectives shift and they see the need for each other’s need for the same protection. This is an important component of the effort to ensure that the freedom to believe and live out one’s beliefs is protected for all faiths everywhere around the world.
Travis Weber, moderating the panel, reminded us all of the importance of the personal connection. When Christians here in the United States see persecution of believers overseas as a personal attack against them, they will feel their pain, which will translate into action. One story that is particularly heartwarming is that of Damaris Atsen, a Nigerian widow whose husband was killed by Boko Haram but who extended forgiveness and grew closer to God through the experience.
To watch the lecture in its entirety, click below. If your church isn’t participating in the April 17 Stand with the Persecuted emphasis, please visit FRC.org/Stand and see how you can get involved helping those who are targeted for their faith in Jesus Christ. Also, check out this great coverage from the Christian Post.
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