The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, March 04, 1998, Page 5, Image 5

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    A cry for help |
Torture of Christians must be dealt with \
political science and
advertising major and a
Daily Nebraskan colum
Adam Yauch and the Beastie
Boys won’t be holding benefit con
certs for this any time soon. Rage
Against the Machine probably won’t
be raging against it in the near future.
Yauch and the other Beastie Boys
have done a good deal in helping to
expose the persecution of Buddhists
by the Chinese government through
Free Tibet concerts and the like. But
there is another kind of religious per
secution that is occurring in larger
numbers and often in a more horrify
ing context throughout many parts of
the world.
In spite of the lack of publicity
and outcry on the part of celebrities
and rock stars, the issue of Christian
persecution around the world is one
that must be addressed and dealt
TL . 1__ n
ntav y p^id^tuuuii ui
Christians in some countries is not
often heard of in the United States.
Nonetheless, the evidence of persis
tent persecution is quite strong. A
resolution in Congress that passed in
September 1996 stated that more
Christians have become martyrs in
the 20th century than in the past 19
Indeed, there have been numer
ous reports of widespread torture,
killing and imprisonment of
Christians in dozens of countries.
The countries that have produced the
worst and most disturbing acts of
persecution are China, Sudan,
Pakistan, North Korea, Saudi Arabia,
Egypt, Vietnam, Cuba and Nigeria.
Just a few examples of this perse
cution are enough to make one won
der why this issue has not been
addressed more frequently in our
country. One example: Amnesty
International reports cases in China
of Christian women hung by their
thumbs from wires and beaten with
heavy rods, denied food and water
and shocked with electric probes.
Jeff Jacoby, a syndicated colum
nist with the Boston Globe, has
offered other examples in past
columns. He has written: “... for mil
lions of Christians in other lands,
fear is ever present. Never before -
never before - have so many believ
ers in Jesus been persecuted for their
jauuuy irns given uie example oi
Christians inhabiting the Nuba
Mountains in Sudan. He reports
Nuba women are systematically
raped by Arab soldiers in order to
produce non-Nuba offspring. Jacoby
goes on to write that there have been
reports, including those by Catholic
bishops, of crucifixions of Christians
I carried out by the Sudanese army.
Sudan’s Islamic government also
has engaged in a policy of forcible
conversion. Some Christians in
Sudan have resisted conversion and,
consequently, have been denied food
and medicine. Christian children are
reported to be stolen from their
homes and sold into slavery by the
In Pakistan, the government
recently has passed a blasphemy law
that forbids any speaking or acting
out against the prophet Mohammed.
The punishment for violators is
death. A 12-year-old Christian child
was sentenced to death under this
law and was freed only after increas
ft ing international pressure. The child
■ is now in hiding because of the boun
H ty Muslim terrorists have placed on
his head.
But perhaps the most frequent
and bloody cases of Christian perse
cution exist in China. In the nation
that serves as home to the second
largest number of Christians in the
world, there are continual reports of
beatings and murders of those who
worship in the underground house
church movement.
Nina Shea, director of the Puebla
Program on Religious Freedom, has
stated in various speeches that “thou
sands of Christians are in gulags
there, imprisoned because they dared
to read the Bible, preach or sing
hymns in public.”
She has said Chinese leaders see
Christians as their biggest threat to
political stability. Indeed, the draft of
the 1996 House resolution noted
Chinese leaders have called under
ground evangelical and Catholic con
gregations “a principal threat to
political stability.”
Nevertheless, the U.S. govern
ment, well aware of the countless
human rights abuses in China, has
done nothing. In fact, its response
has been to renew Most Favored
Nation trade status to China, where
the United States buys eight times
more from the Chinese than the
Chinese buy from the United States.
This policy, despite arguments of
constructive engagement, only seems
to condone the actions of the intoler
ant Chinese government. In the
past, the United States held sane- |
tions against the communist 1
states of the former Soviet M
Union and eastern Ay
European countries,
Cuba and South
Africa, so why do /Wm
we now insist
upon free trade
with commu
nist China? Isn’t
the oppression of
freedom displayed
by the Chinese gov
ernment and the heavy
persecution of
Christians, as well as
Buddhists, enough to
bring some kind of offi
cial condemnation from
the United States?
Apparently not.
President Clinton,
who promised in his 1992
campaign to end MFN sta
tus with China, has gone
back on his word since then
(surprise) and enthusiasti
cally renewed it.
The government isn’t
the only institution show
ing indifference to world
wide Christian persecu
tion. American church- *■
es, the institutions
the abus
fellow _ _
believers, has remained, for the most
part, deafly silent.
The issue was first brought to !
national attention not by church lead
ers, but by Michael Horowitz, a
member of the Hudson Institute, and
A.M. Rosenthal, a columnist for the
New York Times. Both men are L
Jewish, and both question the silence
of most Christians on the subject.
Rosenthal writes in a New York
Times column: “If I were a Christian
I would complain that Christian lead
ers, political, religious and business,
around the world have failed in then
obligations to fight oppression of
their co-religionists.”
ni. .'a*_ .1_. • 11
c^imauon ciiuiciica, especially
Protestant ones, frequently are silent
regarding issues they consider to be
too “political.” Their general tacitur
nity on issues ranging from abortion
to racism has lead to common disre
gard of one of the main responsibili
ties of the church: protection of the
weak and vulnerable.
It is written in the fourth chapter
of Ecclesiastes, verse 1: “Again I
looked and saw all the oppression
that was taking place under the sun. I
saw the tears of the oppressed, and
they have no comforter. Power was
on the side of their oppressors.”
This power of the oppressors
written about so long ago remains to
be very much alive today.
And it will simply continue to
l as so
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