During this new year, FRC's Center for Religious Liberty will be covering top international religious freedom news each month -- exploring challenges that believers face abroad.
Here are the top news stories in international religious freedom this month.
Iran is increasingly in the news as the Biden administration takes a markedly different approach to dealing with this hostile regime from what we've seen in the past four years. Iran continues to foment violence in the Middle East, as attacks from its well-funded proxies continue to strike foreign ships and military bases and send barrages of rockets into countries perceived as enemies.
Inside Iran, another kind of battle rages. The Islamic Republic's state police continue to harass, arrest, and imprison Christian believers. Converts to Christianity from Islam are particularly vulnerable to Iranian state scrutiny, so most new believers choose to live quiet lives and keep a low profile. 22-year-old Mary Mohammadi is one of those converts, but she has chosen a harder path. She has spent time in prison and faces an impending punishment of court-ordered lashes.
Courageously, Mary shared her story with FRC's Lela Gilbert.
She recalled: As I was walking in Valiy-e asr square, the morality police stopped me and transferred me to Vozara Detention Center; the same place I'd found myself stripped of my clothes and abused the year before. This time I was there for 1.5 hours. The reasons authorities gave for my arrest? Headscarf wasn't correctly adjusted, tight trousers, short and unbuttoned coat.
Read the full interview and hear how Mary's faith sustained her at CBN News.
The Biden administration continues to send mixed signals about how they intend to address China's religious freedom violations. Yet now that the U.S. has determined an ongoing genocide against Uyghur Muslims is occurring in Xinjiang, the Biden administration has a responsibility to act. FRC's new publication, "How the United States Can Address China's Uyghur Genocide," offers the Biden administration four meaningful courses of actions.
See FRC's resources:
- Biden Admits He's Just Paying Lip Service to China on Human Rights
- America Must Disentangle Itself from China
- "The Holy Spirit Will Be Working": Despite Persecution, Hong Kong Christians Remain Hopeful
February marked the third anniversary of Leah Sharibu's abduction by Boko Haram. The Christian teenager continues to be held hostage by the terrorist organization due to her refusal to abandon her Christian faith. FRC President and USCIRF Vice-Chair Tony Perkins advocates for Leah as a Prisoner of Conscience. Read about Leah's story on the FRC Blog.
See FRC's resource:
What we're working on:
We recently started an "International Religious Freedom 101" series on the FRC Blog. Check out our first installment, "In Turkey, Authoritarianism and Islamization Are Squeezing Out Christians." Stay tuned for more!
Remember the Persecuted
Religious liberty is the freedom to hold beliefs of one’s choice and to live according to those beliefs. While it was foundational to the formation of the United States of America, religious freedom is not merely an American right, but an inherent human right.
Yet the human race currently faces unprecedented religious persecution from governmental and social forces worldwide. In 2016, one or more religious groups were harassed in 187 countries around the world.
Over the last decade, Christians have been harassed in more countries, including the United States, than any other religious group. We do indeed face a worldwide crisis of religious liberty.
We must increase awareness of the expanding threat to religious freedom around the world and the persecution that many Christians are facing. As we grow awareness of this problem we must also increase engagement that will bring tangible hope and help to the persecuted.
For More Information
- "When will the World Respond to Jihadi Violence in Africa?" - FRC Op-Ed
- "How the United States Can Address China's Uyghur Genocide" - FRC Publication
- "The Crisis of Christian Persecution in Nigeria" - FRC Issue Analysis
- "Religious Freedom in China" - FRC Issue Analysis
- "Apostasy, Blasphemy, and Anti-Conversion Laws" - FRC Publication
- "Pakistan's Religious Discrimination Harms Young Girls the Most" - FRC Op-Ed
- "West Africa: Praying for a Miracle" - FRC Op-Ed
- "China To Christians: We're Rewriting The Bible, And You'll Use It Or Else" - The Federalist