International (MNN/OD) — The
United Nations Human Rights Council voted Thursday in favor of a non-binding
resolution condemning "defamation of religion."
In reality, the resolution actually undermines Christians. The Defamation of Religions
Resolution, introduced annually at the UN, seeks to silence words or actions
that are deemed to be against a particular religion — Islam.
Although the wording sounds
like a worthy cause, the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) is the
driving force behind it. Leonard A. Leo,
chair of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom
(USCIRF), called the resolution an attempt to "create a global
Clearly, a global blasphemy
law would severely hamper the
spread of the Gospel. Open Doors
advocacy director Lindsay Vessey says, "They're using it to justify
limiting the ability of missionaries to evangelize and national Christians
to even practice their faith."
However, she notes that this time, the vote is actually good news. "For the past three years, this
resolution has been losing support. It's
pretty exciting this year–a number of countries changed their votes. It looks like it might take another year or
so to completely defeat the resolution."
A coalition of 17 mostly-Western nations, including the
United States and the Netherlands, opposed the resolution, but 20 states,
including China, Cuba and Saudi Arabia, voted in favor. Eight states abstained.
Open Doors has documented
that many Christians living in Muslim-majority countries are already under
restrictive laws. From the right to worship freely to the
ability to tell others about Jesus Christ, the Defamation of Religions
Resolution (previously called the "Defamation of Islam" resolution) threatens
to justify local laws that already restrict the freedom of Christians, like
Pakistan's Blasphemy law.
The law is often used in Pakistan
to settle disputes. Vessey cites a case filed six days ago that
landed Rubina Bibi, a Christian woman, in jail. "She'd
had a quarrel with her Muslim neighbor. This woman, her relative, who is an
extreme Muslim, filed a blasphemy case against this Christian woman."
Bibi was accused of making a
derogatory remark about the Islamic prophet Muhammad. The charge comes under
Section 295-C of Pakistan's blasphemy laws, which have gained international
notoriety for misuse by Muslims to settle personal grudges. In
effect, he turned the quarrel into a religious issue in which the Christian
could be sentenced to death or life imprisonment with a large fine.
Open Doors USA is helping
to lead the advocacy effort at the United Nations to prevent this non-binding
resolution from passing. As part of its "Free to Believe" campaign, Open Doors
is lobbying key countries to vote "no" on the resolution. They are also preparing to launch a
petition drive in the fall to campaign against the resolution. We'll keep you updated.