Hostility toward religion a reality; ministry launches solidarity campaign

By August 16, 2011

International (MNN) — A new study titled "Rising Restrictions on
Religion" shows increased hostility toward religion between 2006 and 2009.

Released by Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion and
Public Life, the study revealed that hostile action by community or government
toward religious groups rose substantially for more than 2.2 billion people
during the study period.

The report also noted that this data was not surprising due
to the fact that many of the countries with the increase had already experience
high levels of hostility or restrictions.  

Violence considered in the report included damage or
destruction of property to physical assault, false charges, detention and
displacement. Also predictable was the
percentage of Christians involved in the harassment. According to the report, they were the
victims of mob violence in 52 separate incidents by the middle of 2009.

Christians also faced harassment in130 countries, the
highest numbers among the religious groups studied. According the report, the top ten countries
with the highest hostilities regarding religion included Iraq, India, Pakistan,
Afghanistan, Somalia, Indonesia, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Israel and Egypt.

A slightly different distinction with another top ten list
involved countries with government restrictions in place: Egypt, Iran, Saudi
Arabia, Uzbekistan, China, Maldives, Malaysia, Burma, Eritrea and Indonesia.

Open Doors World Watch List (WWL) is a list of the top 50
countries where persecution of Christians is the worst. A comparison of both Pew lists finds the
countries in the top 50. However, the
2011 WWL names the following as the world's worst persecutors of
Christians: North Korea, Iran,
Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Maldives, Yemen, Iraq, Uzbekistan, and

Carl Moeller with Open Doors explains that "over 70% of
the world's population lives in places where 
religious liberty is restricted. Well over 100 million Christians right
now, as we speak, in over 60 countries, are being actively persecuted for their

Given the scenario facing believers, Open Doors launched the
International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church in 1996. From a core
group of approximately 7,000 churches, the IDOP has grown to be the largest
prayer day event of its kind in the world.

IDOP is a means of encouraging solidarity, offering a rallying
point for Christians and others to stand behind the persecuted Church. Moeller says, "When I hear that the vast
majority of the world lives in places where they are not free to believe, in
the way that we are here, my heart goes
out to them and I want to do something."

Traditionally the
second Sunday in November, IDOP this year has a preparatory campaign launch
called "One With Them." Moeller says, "By being part of 'One With Them' and going to,
I can actually show the world that I care and make a difference."

The sole functions of IDOP are prayer and awareness. One With Them serves both purposes with the
help of a rubber bracelet shaped like barbed wire. "This campaign is really focused on the
International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church in November coming
forward, where we will mobilize literally millions of Christians around the
world to pray for persecuted believers."

Since most of the persecuted church feels forgotten by the
rest of the world, Moeller says, "The most important thing we do will be
to mobilize prayer for these Christians. That's the number one request they
have. Our commitment is to provide
whatever resources they need, and in order to do that, we need the support
of people in the United States."

Because Open Doors is so committed to getting people to join in the
solidarity movement, they're giving the bracelets away to encourage people to
participate. Go to
where you can request a bracelet for yourself and one for a friend. Beyond that, you can purchase extras. The prayer reminder comes packaged with a
commitment to pray for the persecuted church. Also, written inside the card is the pledge:
"I wear this wristband in solidarity with my brothers and sisters in
Christ, who share my faith but not my freedom."

Moeller says, "It's really vital that people mobilize
those that they know who have opportunity to step in the gap and provide the material
resources, the Bibles, the rebuilt churches, the food, clothing and shelter for the victims of
the violence in these places."


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