The Global Reality of Religious Persecution

Article excerpt

The end of the Cold War has brought serious religious tensions to the surface in dozens of countries around the world. The answer of many governments has been the systematic persecution of millions of people for their beliefs. One expert has described this century as the worst--and bloodiest--in human history for its religious persecution.

In Tibet, the Chinese communist government has destroyed an estimated 5,000 Buddhist monasteries.

In Sudan, the fundamentalist Islamic government has killed more than a million people, mostly Christians.

In Saudi Arabia, secret police monitor homes for outlawed Christian services.

In Russia, a new law gives four historic religions privileged status, while the Catholic Church must register to operate legally.

In "A Worldwide Phenomenon," Nina Shea of the Center for Religious Freedom at Freedom House describes religious persecution around the world, focusing on Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, North Korea, and China. The persecution varies widely from simple house arrest to state-sponsored terrorism.

David Aikman of the Ethics and Public Policy Center addresses the importance of religious freedom in the twentieth century. He argues that so-called sects should have the same right to freedom of religious expression as the major faiths.

The reality, however, is that developed as well as developing nations practice persecution. …