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June 10, 2005

The Persecuted Church

Saudis deny religious persecution as they persecute Christians

From WorldNetDaily:

Saudi Arabian officials, after denying allegations that the Kingdom arrests and tortures religious believers, released five Christians arrested in connection to a house church while three remain in custody....

According to ICC sources, at least one of the prisoners was abused -- forced to continuously stand -- and was beaten with his hands bound behind his back.

In a separate case, authorities still are holding Georgekutty Thomas, who was arrested two months ago in the northwestern town of Al-Wajh for having a laptop computer with disks containing the Bible in various languages.

In Saudi Arabia, public expression of any faith other than the Wahhabi interpretation of Sunni Islam is illegal.

The believers arrested in May were caught with Bibles, crosses and Christian teaching materials.

But remember, Islam is a religion of peace — or was that pieces, I keep forgetting.

...meanwhile...

Also from WorldNetDaily:

Chinese police launched a massive raid on house churches in Changchun, the capital city of the Jilin province in the northeastern part of the country, detaining 500 and holding 40 leaders three weeks later, say religious freedom activists with the Voice of the Martyrs

On May 22, during Sunday worship time, police and Public Security Bureau officers simultaneously raided approximately 60 house churches. While most of those detained were released after 24 to 48 hours of interrogation, approximately 40 leaders are still being held in different detention centers.

"This is clearly a major assault on unregistered house churches in Jilin province,” said Todd Nettleton, director of news services for the Voice of the Martyrs. "The amount of man-power, coordination and planning involved in raiding 60 church meetings simultaneously shows this effort came from high levels of the Chinese government."

China, of course, makes the pretense of allowing religion by having their own version of Christianity, watered down and heavily censored by the state, then outlawing all others. Kinda reminds me of the way Liberals here in the US think freedom of religion is accomplished by silencing expressions of faith in public.

For example...

The U.S. Department of Justice is asking a federal court to bar New York City Public Schools from discriminating against religious speech. The DOJ has filed a second brief on behalf of the Bronx Household of Faith, a church that has been barred from renting school facilities on the same basis as other community groups.

The Bronx church had sought to rent New York City Public School facilities after hours for the purpose of holding its worship services. However, even though secular organizations and community groups were allowed to use school facilities for a fee, the New York City Board of Education has refused to allow the Bronx Household of Faith the same access.

Eric Treene, the DOJ's Special Counsel for Religious Discrimination, says school boards, administrators and local government officials across the U.S. generally have a mindset that religion is not allowed in public places. "What they miss," he explains, "is that there is a critical distinction between [private religious expression and] government religious speech, which the constitution contains and restricts."

Obviously, a free society "can't have a government picking and choosing religions," Treene says. "But, on the other hand, it's in our greatest constitutional traditions to accommodate individual expression, even when that individual religious expression occurs in a public place."

Yes, there's quite a step between denying the use of a facility and arresting people, but it's a pretty straight and clearly visible path between the two. Is that a road we even want to be on?

Posted by Danny Carlton at June 10, 2005 09:02 AM

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Comments

For many people, religious liberty is no longer a significant concern. That's why they are able to discount its importance (even while they would hold out "free speech" rights for virtually any other statement, no matter how offensive). But religious liberty is one of the cornerstones of individual freedom because it relates to freedom of conscience.

Posted by: Bill wallo at June 13, 2005 02:43 PM

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