February 02, 2017
It's no secret that many of the world's largest nations are openly hostile to divergent religious views, and India has just landed firmly at the top of that list. By cutting off all outside funding for Compassion International, one of the largest Christian charities in the world is now faced with shuttering its 580 Indian-staffed development centers, and leaving an incredible 145,000 children without humanitarian aid.
Compassion has had a presence in India for 48 years -- and understandably so. As the second most populous nation in the world, a full third of the world's poorest people live in India. Compassion helps more children in India than in any other nation. But despite its incredible work, the government of India has blocked the clearance of funding for Compassion through its borders.
The reason is simple: nearly 80 percent of India's people are Hindu, and only 2 percent are Christian. In 2011, India changed its Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) so that it could regulate NGOs (like Compassion) it disagrees with philosophically. Not surprisingly, attacks on Christians and Muslims started to rise, and consequently, India is now No. 17 on Open Doors' list of countries where it's hardest to be a Christian, a 14-point jump from 2013. It's since joined Russia, Myanmar, China, and North Korea toward the top of the list.
In December of last year, Compassion's lead attorney Stephen Oakley made an impassioned plea for help before the House Foreign Affairs Committee: "What we're experiencing is an unprecedented, highly coordinated, deliberate and systematic attack intended to drive us out."
More than 7,000 Christians were killed overseas for their faith last year alone. What we're seeing with Compassion International's case is that without sufficient protections in place, governments are articulating any reason they like for discriminating against, shutting down, or outright criminalizing religion. Compassion International, and others like it such as the Christian Aid Mission are the stakeholders in a silent world war on religious liberty, where the freest nation on earth has failed to come to their assistance because it has not fully helped its own.
During this time of reflection on religious liberty at home and overseas, as we welcome a new president and new protections for our faith, America must act to protect values not just inherent to our nation, but to humanity as a whole. Worshiping as one sees fit is now a reason to be driven out, tortured, or die in some countries. Let's pray that this administration uses its power and influence to first protect the freedoms of the faithful here at home and then once again become a voice for the voiceless abroad.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.