International (MNN) — The U.N. General Assembly has passed
the non-binding Defamation of Religion
Resolution for the fifth year in a row.
However, support is eroding, says Open Doors Advocacy
Director Lindsay Vessey. The
Islamic-sponsored non-binding resolution passed with 80 votes in favor, 61
against and 42 abstentions. That compared with 86 votes to 53, with 42
abstentions for a similar text last year, and figures of 108-51-25 in 2007, the
last time the measure commanded an absolute majority of U.N. members.
Open Doors USA helped to lead the advocacy effort at the United
Nations to prevent this resolution from passing. Open Doors lobbied key voting
countries, organized a petition drive for Open Doors USA supporters to campaign
against the resolution and spoke on this issue to the media. The Open Doors
advocacy campaign is called "Free to Believe."
Oppenents say it threatens freedom of speech, especially for
minority Christians in Muslim-dominated nations. "Essentially the
resolution tried to criminalize words or actions that are deemed to be against
a particular religion, namely, Islam."
Vessey warns that the Organization of Islamic Conference is
organizing a sneak attack in March. "Instead of being a non-binding resolution, they're actually trying
to pass it through a separate committee that would make it more of a binding
resolution–it would make it an optional protocol."
The UN Ad Hoc Committee on the Elaboration of
Complementary Standards is expected to
meet again in the spring to discuss adding the resolution to the International
Covenant on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination.
Open Doors is readying an advocacy response to the threat.
It's one short step, but Vessey says under it,
"People aren‘t free to preach the Gospel–people aren't free to say
what they believe even if they're not trying to evangelize. But it's also going to impact missionaries
and foreign workers who go into these countries to evangelize."
We'll keep you updated as the issue moves forward. Keep praying for believers living in
countries where this resolution could cause problems for those who are the
hands and feet of Christ.