AUTHORITARIAN GOVERNMENTS SEEK TO CONTROL ALL RELIGIOUS THOUGHT AND EXPRESSION
There are numerous reasons why Christians are persecuted. In some countries, severe abuse of Christians takes place under authoritarian governments. In the case of North Korea and other communist countries, authoritarian governments seek to control all religious thought and expression as part of a comprehensive plan to control all aspects of political and civic life. These governments regard some religious groups as enemies of the state because they hold religious beliefs that may challenge loyalty to the rulers.
HOSTILITY TOWARDS NONTRADITIONAL AND MINORITY RELIGIOUS GROUPS
Another reason why Christians are persecuted is hostility towards nontraditional and minority religious groups. For example, in Niger, more than 98 percent of the population is Islamic, and hostility comes more from society than from the government. Historically, Islam in West Africa has been moderate, but in the last 20 years, dozens of Islamic associations have emerged, like the Izala movement, which aims to restrict the freedom of ‘deviant Muslims’ and minority religious groups like Christians.
THE LACK OF BASIC HUMAN RIGHTS
The lack of basic human rights is another significant part of persecution in some countries. For instance, in Eritrea, there are violations of the freedom of expression, assembly, and religious belief and movement, in addition to extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, extended detention, torture, and indefinite national service, which cause many Eritreans to flee the country.
Freedom of religion, like all freedoms of thought and expression, is inherent. Our beliefs help define who we are and serve as a foundation for what we contribute to our societies. However, today, many people live under governments that abuse or restrict freedom of religion. Christians in such areas suffer deeply, and are denied basic freedoms that humans should be entitled to.
In 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This declaration came as a result of the treatment of the Jews in Nazi Germany. The document states that every person is entitled to basic human rights. This reaffirmed the dignity and worth of all human beings no matter what a person’s race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, or other status. In 1966, the United Nations developed the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in addition to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 18 of the ICCPR focuses on four elements of religious freedom:
- Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others, and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.
- No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice.
- Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health, or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.
- The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to have respect for the liberty of parents and, when applicable, legal guardians to ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions.