Family Research Council — Habila Adamu will never be a household name in America — but to the millions of persecuted Christians in Eastern Africa, he is a symbol of the fierce courage it takes to live by faith in the face of death. Fourteen months ago, the Nigerian businessman was at home when two masked gunman showed up at his door and ordered his wife to leave. We’re here, they said, “to do the work of Allah.” Pointing their AK-47s in his direction, the shooters asked if Habila was a Christian. “Yes,” he replied. They asked him why he hadn’t accepted Islam, despite hearing the message of Mohammed. Again, he told them, “I am a Christian. We are also preaching the gospel of the true God to you and to other people who do not yet know God.” “Are you ready to die as a Christian?” the men sneered. “I am ready to die as a Christian,” he told them. They asked him one more time — and before Habila could finish, a bullet silenced him, permanently.
How many of us, Congressman Chris Smith (R-N.J.) told his House Subcommittee, could have stared martyrdom in the face and refused to renounce Christ? And yet there are thousands of Habilas around the globe who live in fear of the brutal — and sometimes deadly — repercussions of their faith. “It’s hard for Christians to wrap their minds around persecution that takes place around the world,” testified Boston Globe Associate Editor John Allen. “Two-thirds of Christians in the world today live outside the West,” he explained. “They live in Africa, in the Middle East, and other places where they’re the targets of convenience for anybody who is mad at the West, mad at Europe, mad at the United States. It’s tough to take that out on the American consulate. It’s very easy to take it out on the Christian church down the street.”
And unfortunately, that’s exactly what radicals have been doing from Iran to Burma. “No one is exempt,” said Elliot Abrams of the creeping trends of religious hostility. And, as many of the experts told members yesterday, the harassment is gradually making its way to the West’s shores. In Pew Research Center’s latest report, Christians were not only the world’s largest religion — but its most persecuted. But despite the uptick in violence, the Obama administration can’t be bothered to fill the State Department’s Ambassador for Religious Freedom post, which has sat empty when the world needs it most.
“It’s a revelation of priorities,” Congressman Smith told reporters at the hearing. “We need an ambassador at large who understands the issues, will travel, will be an intervener. We have a no-show on religious liberty.” If America wants to defend the voiceless, it needs a President who sees religious freedom as more than a few throwaway lines in a prayer breakfast speech. It needs someone who will address the crisis — not with sound bites, but sound action.
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While the walls may be closing in on believers here at home, the hostility we face is just a taste of the suffering our brothers and sisters are experiencing all across the world. For them, the cost of conviction is not in dollars — as it is here for those who reject the President’s ObamaCare mandate — but in lives. In places like Syria, China, North Korea, or Pakistan, picking up your cross is not a right but a death sentence. We tip our hats to champions like Congressman Smith, who continue to be a voice for the victims. For more of the latest statistics and what the President isn’t doing about them, the piece “Religious Liberty Lip Service” by Travis Weber, the Director of FRC’s Center for Religious Liberty.
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