GOD ONLINE: Exploring media spirituality

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You’re a believer? You’re dead

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When a judge in Iran sentenced a man to death for the “crime” of converting from Islam to Christianity, Bishop Haik Hovsepian raised an international outcry. The convert was released, but Hovsepian vanished — and his corpse was found later, with 26 stab wounds.

And the persecution isn’t just in Iran. It’s also in China, Eritrea, Kosovo, Cuba, Vietnam, Indonesia and elsewhere. Hence The Persecuted Church, which will sponsor its annual prayer day on Nov. 9 this year.

The site is an umbrella for 10 watchdog groups, including International Christian Concern, which lays out a table of the 35 countries where it says persecution or discrimination is worst.

Hovsepian’s 1994 murder is remembered in A Cry From Iran, a documentary making the rounds in the U.S. Also poignant is Gospel for Asia, which has been monitoring the wave of brutal attacks on Christians in India.

What about others? Well, Persecuted Church says the plight of Christians dwarfs that of other faiths. But if you want a broader view, try Forum 18 News Service. Although it’s a Christian organization, Forum 18 also sounds the alarm for other religions — as in Azerbaijan, where a mosque was bombed, then kept closed by government order.

Also exemplary is the work of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom. The commission monitors religious rights worldwide, marking 11 nations — including Sudan, Burma, Uzbekistan and North Korea — as “countries of particular concern.”

Finally, have a look at persecution of Baha’is, especially heinous in Iran and Egypt. As of this writing, Iran has jailed 53 of them on charges of “illegally” teaching their religion, although the Baha’is say their main activities were teaching reading and hygiene to poor children.

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Written by Jim Davis

November 8, 2008 at 7:47 pm

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