US Vice President Mike Pence Opens Christian Persecution Summit
Bill Bray Assist News
US Vice President, Mike Pence was the official speaker at the opening of the World Summit in Defense of Persecuted Christians.
Sponsored by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA), the international summit brings over 600 Christian leaders from 130 countries to discuss the spreading persecution and genocide of Christians around the world.
“Christians are now one of the most victimized groups in the world,” says spokesman Todd Shearer, “215 million Christians experience very high or extreme persecution in 50 countries.”
The indigenous leaders are gathering behind closed doors for the first-time ever to plan a strategic, global response starting today through May 13. They will seek answers to the question, “How should Christians love their enemies and respond to genocide and persecution around the world?”
The invitation-only event in Washington is hosted by Franklin Graham, president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Organization.
Besides planning and organizing an emergency response to the persecution and genocide crisis, the conference has four stated purposes: (1) Help change public policy that promotes discrimination against Christians, harassment and persecution, (2) Find ways to increase diplomatic pressure on the violating states, (3) Inform and mobilize Christians to address President Trump and their elected officials to take stronger American action against the increasing persecution, (4) Comfort and help the victims respond in a Biblical manner.
Government restrictions, harassment and persecution of Christians and other minority religious groups soared in 2015-2016 according to the non-partisan Pew Research Center. Restrictions on religion were rated high or very high in 40% of the countries worldwide, up from 34% in 2014.
Washington, DC, was chosen as the site for the Summit because it provides high security with friendly media coverage and a host government legally committed to upholding religious freedom because of the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act.
Franklin Graham issued a statement explaining his purpose in sponsoring the event, saying, “I want the politicians to see firsthand what’s taking place. I want to put a big spotlight on the Christians around the world who are being persecuted, who are being tortured.”
He also urged Americans to contact President Donald Trump, and their elected officials, to increase enforcement of the International Religious Freedoms Act of 1998 by appointing an Ambassador at Large to address human rights violations. The post is now vacant.
According to Open Doors USA, the world’s top 10 violators of religious freedom are North Korea, Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan, Syria, Iraq, Iran and Eritrea. Over 95% of the governments in the Muslim Middle East North Africa countries have used force against religious minorities in 2015.
Graham called on Christians to organize prayer for those enduring persecution, prison, rape and violence for the sake of Jesus Christ.
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