Friday, December 23, 2005

Christians under siege in North Korea

The persecution of Christians overseas continues and, in some countries, is increasing, specialists on international religious liberty said at a Dec. 14 briefing at the U.S. Capitol.

Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission told the audience of congressional staffers, activists and reporters, “We come here at Christmastime, and we can celebrate our religious freedom. We’re here to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves because they live in countries where they are not free to worship.”

In a briefing titled “Christmas Under Siege Around the World,” Land, Chaput and five other experts on the issue described the conditions for Christians in countries such as North Korea, China, Indonesia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and India.

Though North Korea is the “world’s most closed society,” a recently released USCIRF report based on interviews with refugees and escapees gives some indication of the ongoing repression of believers in that Asian country in which the late dictator, Kim Il Sung, is the object of a “quasi-religious cult of personality,” Land said.

The findings in interviews of the North Koreans included, Land said:
1) “There is no freedom of thought, conscience or belief in North Korea”;

2) North Koreans are required to attend indoctrination sessions at least weekly at Kim Il Sung Revolutionary Research Centers;

3) none knew of “any authorized religious activity;”

4) some reported on executions of people who participated in religious activities or possessed a Bible or other religious material.

[Excerpt from an article by Tom Strode, Baptist Press]

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