The Pandemic And The Persecuted

News Image By Arielle Del Turco/Family Research Council April 17, 2020
Share this article:

Christians in America and around the world are adjusting to the challenges brought on by the coronavirus. For the persecuted abroad, the virus is an added pressure, as some governments are seeking to use the crisis as an opportunity to crack down on believers. 

Here in the United States, most governmental authorities are imposing reasonable restrictions and working with churches and other houses of worship. Yet there remains the need to be on guard. Overseas, the persecuted are facing more hostile governments that are blatantly using the crisis to suppress religious exercise and extend their long arm of state control.

In China, where the novel coronavirus originated, the Chinese government's systematic infringement of religious freedom continues uninterrupted. While Christians waited out the coronavirus lockdown at home, authorities removed crosses from churches. This removal effort is a part of China's plan to "sinicize" Christianity by making it look less like true Christianity and more like a Chinese Communist Party propaganda tool.

Some Chinese provinces have issued guidances forbidding online church services and preaching, a vital way for churches to reach congregants amid both persecution and the spread of the virus. Online activities by individual Christians are also heavily monitored and some pastors have warned apps such as WeChat are giving the authorities a database of individuals to crack down on.

In neighboring North Korea, the regime continues to claim that the country has zero coronavirus cases. Meanwhile, the efforts to ramp up containment of the virus suggests the regime is hiding the truth. The virus poses a particular threat to the estimated 50,000 Christians detained in filthy, cramped prison camps, enduring starvation and torture at the hands of North Korean authorities. 

U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback has called for the release of such prisoners of conscience in light of COVID-19.

In Iran, one of the places hit hardest by the coronavirus, Christians are especially concerned. For the underground churches that used to meet secretly in houses, congregants now meet virtually on encrypted apps like Telegram. Christian prisoners face the most intense threat in Iran's inhumane prisons. 

Iran's notoriously oppressive regime has already released thousands of prisoners for fear the virus would spread among prisoners. However, the regime refused to release several Christians imprisoned for their faith.

Some countries in Africa have only recently implemented coronavirus lockdowns. As Christians in Nigeria begin to worry about COVID-19, their fears are compounded by threats of violence from the terrorist group Boko Haram and Fulani militants who often target Christians to be kidnapped or killed. Amid a global pandemic, their attacks have not stopped. Some 350 Christians have been killed so far in 2020 by Fulani militants and the Boko Haram terrorist group.

In India, cultural discrimination against Christians is endangering Christian healthcare workers. Reports are surfacing that government officials are choosing to send Christian nurses to care for contagious coronavirus patients because Christians are considered "expendable" in India. 

This long-standing discrimination against religious minorities has been getting worse in recent years. This incident during a pandemic is only a reflection of the hostility religious minorities in India face on a regular basis.

For Americans, an unforeseen result of the global outbreak is that many of us are experiencing an external pressure that affects our weekly public worship gatherings -- something that the persecuted church experiences often. 

This interruption in our routine offers us a unique opportunity to reflect on the plight of persecuted believers who are forced to meet in hiding or via technology. While our challenges are not the same as theirs, the shared experience of coronavirus enables us to relate to the persecuted church in a new way.

In the new environment caused by the health crisis, American Christians are on the alert for violations of their religious freedom. When the authority used by the state is abused, it's appropriate for U.S. citizens to make it clear to our leaders that we will not allow them to target churches unfairly or violate our religious freedom during our current crisis. 

At the same time, American Christians can use the religious freedom protected by our laws to pray for and advocate on behalf of Christians around the world who are targeted by governments or terrorist groups even during a global health crisis.

Originally published at Family Research Council - reposted with permission.

Other News

November 28, 2022Will An Economic Pearl Harbor Destroy America?

The U.S. is setting itself up for a modern day Pearl Harbor - one from which it will never recover. And it won't be the result of a milita...

November 28, 2022British, Canadian Governments Push New Radical Transgender 'Pronoun' Mandates

It won't be long before there are no "safe spaces" for dissidents who do not accept gender ideology. You will be made to publicly affirm a...

November 28, 2022American Teens Vast Disillusionment With Marriage - Most Expect To Cohabitate

Most young people see marriage is seen as a foolish idea, unless it has been thoroughly road tested by two people who have shacked up toge...

November 28, 2022New Initiative By Meir Panim Provides Fresh Produce To Those In Need

Meir Panim is one of Israel's largest non-profits addressing the issue of food security....

November 23, 2022Pause & Give Thanks As We Head Into The Uncertain Headwinds Of 2023

I know that things aren't great right now for many people, but please try to enjoy the next few days, because it appears that economic con...

November 23, 2022US Pledges Climate Reparations To Other Countries As Americans Prepare To Freeze

More people than ever are facing dire circumstances, and we're just getting started with this economic disaster. And what is our governmen...

November 23, 2022No Indoctrination Here: Trans-Identifying Students Increase 991% Over Two Years

LGBT activists have deeply entrenched themselves in MCPS's culture, policy, and administration. It was only natural that, as the movement ...

Get Breaking News