Center Persecution Summit Takes Aim at Sudan, North Korea
Christian leaders issue second "Statement of Conscience"
August 12, 2002
by Center for Religious Freedom
Six years after launching a movement to defend against the persecution of Christians abroad, the Center for Religious Freedom held its "Second Summit of Christian Leaders on Religious Religious Persecution: Special Examination of Sudan and North Korea," on May 1 at Washington's Mayflower Hotel.
Over one hundred Christian leaders attending the Summit said U.S. human rights policy should crack down on Sudan and North Korea as the worst violators of religious liberty. The regimes of Sudan and North Korea are the two governments in the world today actively carrying out genocidal policies toward religious believers. China, as well as persecuting its own religious believers, is complicit in the mass religious repression in both Sudan and North Korea. In the context of a post-9/11 world, the summit aimed to adopt policies and strategies for helping persecuted religious believers in these countries.
The event was held in conjunction with the National Association of Evangelicals, comprised of 43,000 congregations nationwide from 51 member denominations. Like the Center's first historic Summit held in 1996, it convened national Christian leaders to discuss the future of a movement that Washington Post editor Stephen Rosenfeld correctly predicted would dramatically "influence international politics." Indeed, the 1996 Summit resulted in millions becoming active in the plight of persecuted believers around the world. The creation of a broad-based religious movement helped pass, against all odds, the landmark International Religious Freedom Act, which institutionalized concern for religious freedom in U.S. foreign policy.
Participants in the May 1 Summit included leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention, Episcopal Church, Salvation Army, Evangelical Free Church, National Black Evangelical Association, Focus on the Family, Evangelical Lutheran Church, Assemblies of God, Nazarene Church, World Vision and World Relief, Seventh Day Adventists and 100 others.
At the Summit, an Episcopal bishop from Sudan, a woman tortured in a North Korean labor camp, a German doctor - turned Korean human rights activist, and a missionary pastor who has helped run an underground railway for escaping North Koreans, all gave their testimony. Congressmen Frank Wolf, Spencer Bachus and Joseph Pitts came to express their solidarity with the anti-persecution movement. Senator Sam Brownback told the participants that since the first Summit in 1996 concern for religious persecution has moved from a hotel conference hall to Capital Hill: "Don't give up the movement now. Put more into it," he said. A White House representative read a statement from President Bush.
The Second Summit, like the first, culminated with the adoption of a "Statement of Conscience," containing a strategic plan of action for both churches and civic society, as well as the U.S. government. The Statement affirms:
"The 'special attention' focus this Statement pays to Sudan and North Korea comes first from this fact: Horrible as may be the torments now suffered by vulnerable believers throughout the world, those suffered by faith communities of Sudan and North Korea may be more brutal, more systematic, more deliberate, more implacable and more purely genocidal than those taking place anywhere in the world today."
It goes on to endorse the enactment of the Sudan Peace Act and calls for expanding the publicity and aid to the persecuted people of North Korea.
The full text of the Second Statement of Conscience can be found on the Center's website.
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