Government restrictions on religious freedom in 2018 were at the highest level they have been since 2007, according to a study by Pew Research.
“We look at this religious freedom foundational right that if you can get it right as a nation, other human rights will flourish,” said Sam Brownback, former Kansas governor and religious freedom ambassador in the Trump administration. If you get it wrong other human rights will diminish.”
The study showed that high or very high government restrictions peaked in 56 countries, with the highest restrictions being in Africa and the Middle East.
“We’ve never been more institutionalized, but we’ve never seen more persecution,” said Chris Seiple of Templeton Religion Trust. “The new Pew reports are out, and there has never been more persecution, so we are getting our act together on how this gets institutionalized but obviously, we have to go to another level here as a civil society, as a government.”
In 2018, the White House intervened to free pastor Andrew Brunson, a missionary who was arrested in Turkey after he was falsely arrested for partaking in an alleged coup with Kurdish terrorists against Turkish president Erdogan. Last week, Brunson predicted increasing persecution against U.S Christians in the future.
“I believe the pressures that we’re seeing in our country now are going to increase, and one of these pressures is going to be hostility toward people who embrace Jesus Christ and his teaching, who are not ashamed to stand for him,” he warned. “My concern is that we’re not ready for this pressure. And not being prepared is very, very dangerous on a number of levels.”
In June, Trump signed an executive order that makes international religious freedom a priority in U.S foreign policy. Faith leaders hope that the same the Biden administration will also make religious freedom a priority.
–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice