Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 086 | Wed 15 Dec 2010
By Elizabeth Kendal
RELIGIOUS LIBERTY TRENDS IN 2010
'In whom do you now trust?' (Isaiah 36:5b ESV)
Religious liberty is in decline globally. Consequently persecution of Christians and repression of Christian humanitarianism and proclamation are on the increase globally.
In the non-West, persecution of Christians continued to escalate through 2010. The draining wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, combined with the 'global financial collapse' of August 2008, have left America without the economic leverage to convince leaders of non-free states to rein in persecution. This comes at a time when intolerant, fundamentalist Islam is in revival and intolerant, religious nationalism is emerging as a dominant political force in the world. Meanwhile, Iran is ascendant in the Middle East and exerting influence across the Muslim world. Likewise, China is ascendant in Asia and exerting influence in Africa and other places where it has established a presence. To counter domestic tensions, both Iran and China are escalating persecution against anything that could threaten 'harmony', i.e. the political status quo. As persecution escalates neither the US nor the EU (European Union) nor the UN nor any NGO (non-government organisation) can do anything about it.
Not only is the West increasingly powerless to help the persecuted in the non-West, but due to 'culture change', the West itself is becoming increasingly hostile to Christianity. The more the West 'evolves' from a Judeo-Christian to a post-Christian culture, the more it becomes just like other non-Judeo-Christian cultures: intolerant, authoritarian, repressive and hostile towards Christ. For many decades now the West has been forgetting God (Deuteronomy 8:11-20) and in pride and arrogance has been pursuing independence and self-sufficiency. Across much of the West, once dominant Christian values have become minority values increasingly deemed to be in violation of human rights. As the West lurches towards 'culture collapse', Western leaders are similarly becoming increasingly desperate for 'harmony' at any price. Consequently, belligerent forces are being appeased while Christians are starting to lose their jobs, their places at university, their right to free speech and witness, and even their right to serve in a humanitarian and charitable capacity. Unless there is widespread revival -- for this is a spiritual issue before it is a political one -- the situation will only get worse.
Over recent decades persecuted Christians and their advocates have increasingly invested their hopes, trust and faith in governments and NGOs, especially in the US and the UN. Persecuted Christians and their advocates should be starting to realise that politics, the projects of men, powerful alliances and military might are all failing to bring security. As the devil mockingly asks, 'In whom do you now trust?' let us pray that the crisis serves to awaken and revive the Church. Might we like King Hezekiah remember our gracious, faithful LORD and turn to HIM (Isaiah 36,37).
We ask you to bless your Church with a great awakening of faith.
May imminently imperilled Christians in Sudan, Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Egypt put their faith in you alone.
May increasingly subjugated and threatened Christians throughout the Muslim world -- including Indonesia (especially Papua and West Java), Malaysia, Bangladesh, Lebanon, Iran, the North Caucasus -- put their faith in you alone.
May repressed and persecuted believers throughout Asia -- including China, North Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, India, Maldives and Sri Lanka -- put their faith in you alone.
May Western Christians experiencing the consequences of 'culture change' put their faith in you alone.
May those who advocate for religious liberty, for the persecuted and for justice and righteousness put their faith in you alone.
May those who work to raise awareness and relieve suffering put their faith in you alone.
For 'without faith it is impossible to please' the Lord (Hebrews 11:6)
We ask this so that 'all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone are the LORD' (Isaiah 37:20b).
SUMMARY TO USE IN BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
RELIGIOUS LIBERTY TRENDS IN 2010
As religious liberty declines globally, persecution and repression are growing. The situation for Christians in the non-West deteriorated in 2010 as US influence declined and Iranian and Chinese influence rose. Christians in Sudan, Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Egypt, Indonesia, North Korea and elsewhere are imperilled and neither the US nor the UN can do anything about it. In the West, Christians are facing increased hostility due to 'culture change'. Persecuted Christians and their advocates should be realising that politics, powerful alliances and military might are failing to bring security. The devil mockingly asks, 'In whom do you now trust?' (Isaiah 36:5b). Revival is the only answer -- let us pray that the crisis serves to awaken the Church. Our gracious God alone is sovereign, faithful and worthy of trust.