Christian Persecution:combating religious persecution globally has been a lifelong effort of Congressman Frank Wolf. A new bill has been named after him as it strengthens efforts to fight against widespread religious persecution.
Air Date: 01/25/2017
Guests: Frank Wolf, David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton
American historical events, founding fathers, historical documents, books, videos, CDs, tapes, David Barton’s speaking schedule.
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Transcription note: As a courtesy for our listeners’ enjoyment, we are providing a transcription of this podcast. However, as this is transcribed from a live talk show, words and sentence structure were not altered to fit grammatical, written norms in order to preserve the integrity of the actual dialogue between the speakers. Additionally, names may be misspelled because of the difficulty in understanding the speaker at times. We apologize in advance.
Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture this is WallBuilders Live! We’re talking about today’s hottest topics on policy, faith, and other areas of the culture all from a Biblical, historical, and constitutional perspective. We’re here with David Barton, America’s premier historian, and WallBuilders founder and president, Tim Barton national speaker, and pastor. And my name is Rick Green I’m a former Texas state representative.
You can find out more about us and our organization at WallBuilders.com and WallBuildersLive.com. WallBuilders has been recognized from coast to coast for its work in education, history, law, public policy, and integrating the elements of Biblical faith and morality throughout all aspects of American life and culture. We want to give you some great resources. They are all available right there on those websites. WallBuilders.com and WallBuildersLive.com.
Hall of Shame
So, David, Tim, today we’re going to talk about faith. In the cultures the persecution of Christianity all over the world. Sometimes we don’t realize here in America how bad it can be in some of these places.
Yeah, it really is bad in a lot of places. There are a lot of groups that help monitor this. Most recently at the end of 2016, as it takes them a few months tabulate everything. The International Christian Concern is now out with their annual report looking back at 2016. And they list the top dozen or so countries in the world that are the worst on religious liberty. They call it their “Hall of Shame.”
So that’s not a list you want to be on.
If it is a “Hall of Shame” I do not want to make that list! That’s a problem.
The Worst Countries For Christians
That’s right. And they divide it into several categories. The first category they have is they call it, “The Worst of the Worst Countries for Christians.” And that’s where you have such ongoing terror attacks at Christmas in that country.
Let me just ask a question related to that. I would assume those are probably nations where ISIS is around?
I mean just thinking. Especially the last year or two when you see the attack from ISIS, the be-headings. It would seem like it. Do you have a list of who those nations are?
The top three nations that they have are Nigeria, Iraq, and Syria. Oh – Boko Haram and ISIS-
So definitely those Muslim, hostile nations, sure.
If you look at numbers in the Middle East what I’ve seen was that in the 1960s there were 30 million Christians living in the Middle East. Today it’s down to 450,000 or less. That’s a massive genocide. So that’s Iraq, Syria, and Nigeria. Those are the three worst of the worst countries.
But you also have North Korea. And I didn’t realize this, with North Korea there is between 40,000 and 70,000 Christians that have been imprisoned because they are Christians. And they’re having mass executions. Government crackdown executions. I knew they were in bad shape in North Korea —
Countries With Increased Persecution
Well, yeah. North Korea can’t be too much of surprise when the news article is last year when someone fell asleep in one of the meetings and was executed the next day. I mean that’s not it’s not really a loving place. So certainly communism, that’s not a surprise.
Now, we don’t hear the story of Christianity being persecuted. But North Korea is not somewhere that you would think would really be embracing of Christians in general. So that one’s not a real surprise.
Though I will say, I stayed awake and paid attention more in our long board meetings much better after I heard that.
Yeah, when we pulled out the pistol and put it on the table and said, “Alright guys, pay attention.” Really a wake up call on that one.
Yeah, so, that’s the first category. The second category is what they call “The Core Countries of Persecution.” And that’s where Christians are targeted by blasphemy laws. And the population of Christians is suppressed because they’re seen as a threat to government. So they just, in general, suppress Christianity and go after Christians. And that’s India, China, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt.
Now it’s interesting, of those nations that the majority are either Muslim or communists.
United States Is One Of The Persecution Lists
Let’s see, China is Communist. And the other four are Muslim. So yeah, exactly. So again, they go after them with blasphemy, laws, etc.
Then the third category is those that are called, “New and Noteworthy Nations” where Christians are facing increased persecution. These are the new ones that have been added to the Christian persecution list and they include Mexico, Russia, and the United States.
Wait a minute. Hang on. We’re talking about nations where Christians are persecuted, the worst nations like Nigeria. You must’ve said the wrong thing. You said, “The United States.”
Christian Persecution In America
Yeah, The United States, Mexico, and Russia. They’re identified as the new and noteworthy nations where Christians are facing increased persecution.
Well, we have talked about with Kelly Shackelford, with Mat Staver, and with many of these legal groups that there is an increased persecution against some rights of conscience religious liberty. We’ve kind of referred to that as soft persecution. Where you’re not actually having to pay the price of your life.
Where ISIS is coming, you’re Christian, so they cut your head off. But it’s certainly not something that you would think that the nation has become hostile toward Christianity. So, Dad, is this kind of where they’re coming from?
Here’s one of the things they say, “While conditions in the U.S. are in no way comparable to other countries on the list, a certain segment of the culture and the courts seem to be intent on driving faith out of the public square. There have been too many court cases with bad decisions to miss the clear trend line. We felt that it was very important this year that we highlight three countries where religious discrimination and persecution are deemed unusual but have reached a certain threshold of concern. These three countries are Mexico, Russia, and sadly the United States.”
There’s no doubt about that description. We are to a place where it’s noteworthy. It’s not good. It does seem to be turning the wrong direction. As sad as it is to say, it does seem like we ought to be on the shameful list.
Hall Of Shame For Religious Liberty
It probably has a lot to do with the seriousness of the soft persecution, as you put it. Where in the past it might have been mocking, or maybe not allowed to do certain things. But now we’re talking about we’re running people out of business. We’re fining them hundreds of thousands of dollars. And we’re threatening them with jail effect.
We’ve done stories where pastors have been arrested and gone to jail for exercising their faith. So you start adding that stuff up and I get it.
Now the trend is no longer do they throw these things out of court as frivolous cases. Now we’re losing these cases. They point out, “Christians in the U.S. are facing constant attacks in the media. Where they’re portrayed as bigoted, racist, sexist, and closed minded.”
They also talk about the battle between traditional marriage and LGBT-supporting groups. That’s the kind of stuff you’re talking about with the Bakers and others. Folks that are being threatened with jail because they won’t bake cakes for LGBTQ, or because they won’t do flowers, or because they won’t do whatever. That’s a whole shift. So welcome America to the Hall of Shame for religious liberties.
We’ve also seen an increased attack over the last couple of years of some of these Muslim extremists. For Muslims they still identify it as a Christian nation. So now, arguably you could say we’re seeing it from two fronts.
From an extremist that wants us to die, but even from the interior that is a soft persecution. So certainly, it does seem like it’s trending the wrong direction as the article indicates.
Three Main Men Standing For Religious Minorities
That’s what they said, “The trend is moving in the wrong direction.” Therefore, it’s a concern for Russia, Mexico, and the United States. There’s a guy I’ve known in Congress for a long time who’s just recently retired, but not one in Congress….well, maybe three guys in Congress. Maybe Chris Smith from New Jersey, Joe Pitts out of Pennsylvania, and Frank Wolf out of Virginia, were the top three leading guys in helping fight religious persecution across the world.
The Helsinki Commission and all of these human rights commissions, they’re all three strong evangelical Christians. And they went to bat for the rights of persecuted minorities anywhere in the world. Not just Christians but whether they were Jews, or I think is when the Hindus were going after the Sikhs, and everything. They were standing up for religious minorities.
Now there is a bill just signed by President Obama that’s named after Frank Wolf and all the work he did on this for a number of years. So Congressman Frank Wolf is going to talk about this new bill that just got passed to help solve this problem of religious persecution across the world.
Stay with us, folks. Former Congressman Frank Wolf our special guest here on WallBuilders Live.
God’s Hand In America’s History
This is David Barton with another moment from America’s history. Since the Ten Commandments have formed the basis of civil law in the western world for over 2,000 years an individual is more likely to find a copy of them in a government building rather than a religious one. Yet, amazingly numerous rulings over recent years now make it unconstitutional to display the Commandments in many public arenas.
Consider what Founding Father John Adams said about this. He declared, “The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, anarchy and tyranny commence. If ‘Thou shalt not covet and thou shalt not steal’ were not commandments of Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society before it can be civilized or made free.” John Adams believed that no society could remain civilized if separated from the Ten Commandments.
For more information on God’s hand in American history contact WallBuilders at 1 800 8 REBUILD.
Welcome back! Thanks for staying with us here on WallBuilders Live. Former Congressman Frank Wolf our guest today Congressman good to have you on, Sir.
Thank you very much. Good to be with you. Thank you very much.
We are excited about the piece of legislation passed a few weeks ago and actually signed by President Obama in the last few weeks of his of his term. He actually named it after you, “The Frank Wolf International Religious Freedom Act.”
You’ve been fighting for this very subject for many, many years and I wanted to find out from you what you saw as the distinction with this piece of legislation and what it would do in our fight for religious liberty around the world?
What We Are Doing To Help Rid Religion Oppression
There is more religious persecution taking place today than perhaps maybe even in modern times. The latest survey shows 74-75% of the world lives in a religiously repressive nation. I appreciate Congressman Chris Smith and Congresswoman Eshoo working together, and over in the Senate side Senator Rubio and Senator Lankford for pushing this legislation. Because I think it will help in a tremendous way.
It upgrades the office. Initially, the office when the bills were first passed back in 1998 the goal was to give it a lot more power. It was then weakened by some in the Senate and also by the Clinton administration.
So this really expands it and increases the ability of the office to move. It has the ambassador at large to report directly to the secretary rather than being far down in the chain where you never get to even see the secretary. It will also put together a list of prisoners of conscience if you will.
During the 80s, you may remember during the Reagan administration every time you would go to Congressional Delegation or when anybody visited that particular country you had a list of the people who were being persecuted for their faith, people who were being imprisoned, and people who were being tortured.
This will put together a list. So you get a lot more authority and a lot more ability. It also has the person over International Security Council have much more weight, much more influence than they have.
You may remember President Reagan said that the words in the Constitution and the words in the Declaration of Independence were a covenant. A covenant not only with the people of Philadelphia in 1787 or 1776 when the Declaration of Independence was passed. But a covenant with all the people around the world. This bill helps re-establish that covenant in so many different ways and it strengthens the office.
Christians Persecuted To Death
We tend to get spoiled about here in America is our religious liberty even though we are certainly fighting battles on that front. Frankly, it’s minor compared to what our brothers or sisters around the world fight. We that. We forget how horrific it is in many places on the planet.
We’ve had several guests over the last couple of years that have really brought that to light for our audience. And to have our government be a champion for religious liberty is so important to use the power that America has been given and when our secretary of state or our ambassadors are representing our nation. This should be not just an item, it ought to be somewhere near the top of the list. Shouldn’t it?
It’s should. This now makes it part of America’s foreign policy. It also has us training the Foreign Service officers. They will all be trained on this issue. But you are exactly right. If you look at the world today. In Iraq, the Christian community has fallen from 1 ½ million down to roughly 250 thousand.
We had sister Diane over here in Washington two weeks ago to tell what exactly happened. We are seeing potentially the end of Christianity in the cradle of Christendom. Abraham was from Iraq. Ezekiel was buried in Iraq. Daniel was buried in Iraq. ISIS just two years ago blew up a tomb. We’ve seen the Christian community be slaughtered there.
In Pakistan, you have a Christian woman Asia Bibi. A Christian woman who is under a death sentence, not a charge. But she’s been sentenced to death for blasphemy because she took a drink of water out of a cup that a Muslim woman was drinking out of.
The World Has Kept Relatively Silent About This
Now you see Muslims in Pakistan are being persecuted for their faith. In China, we hear all this talk about trade. Great let’s talk about trade. But in China, they have Catholic Bishops under house arrest.
Hundreds of pastors that are in jail because of the faith. You’re seeing crosses taken off of churches. Lawyers who are defending Christians that are now being arrested. In Tibet, about 135-140 Buddhist monks and nuns that have had kerosene poured on their bodies to light a match because of the persecution.
Nigeria. The Christians in Nigeria are suffering so much. Because if you remember a thousand days ago you remember the young Christian girls were captured and we had this whole hashtag bring back our girls? It has been a thousand days and only 21 have come back. The world has been relatively silent about this for the 100 who have not come back.
So persecution of peoples of faith ought to be a priority. It used to be during the Reagan administration. President Reagan always raised this issue. Also during the Bush administration, it was always a priority. But for some reason, it’s fallen down. But I think this bill will bring it back.
That’s fantastic! For individuals out there that want to be part of the solution and at least know who to pray for our donate to, there are some great private organizations that can help keep them educated on this. Voice of the Martyrs. What would be some others that we could send them to?
Voice Of The Martyrs
Voice of the Martyrs does a great job! It was started by Dr. Richard Wurmbrand. If you recall, he was in prison for 17 or 18 years. Voice of the Martyrs does an outstanding job. Another one is Open Doors. Brother Andrew set that up years ago. They have been very, very effective in advocating.
Christian Solidarity International is another group has been very effective. The Wilberforce Group they’ve been advocating for. But if you ask me, Voice of the Martyrs and Open Doors has really had a history over the years of really doing an outstanding job.
I think it’s important, Voice of the Martyr has a program where you actually adopt a prisoner! Which means several things. One you pray for them for a whole year. Every time we go into a country they say, “What can you do to help us?” And you think they’re going to ask you for financial assistance or for aid. The first thing they ask for is prayer. Well, we were inside Nigeria, The Wilberforce Group, and we asked. In every meeting they said “Pray for us.” Voice of the Martyrs you pray.
Secondly, you write them. Now, if you talk to Nathan Sharansky who was in the last gulag in the Soviet Union. He said his life got better when people wrote the prison, wrote the Russian government. Because that calmed them down in the camp. They didn’t want to have anything bad to happen to because they thought, “Why are all these people sending him letters?”
So they kind of know that people are watching. They know that people are there.
How We Can Help
Yes! Certainly, you can communicate with their families.
Fourthly, you can go to the American — when you’re in Washington you can go to that embassy. If you have a Pakistani person, you go to the Pakistani Embassy. And with the way that people travel when you go to those countries if you’re in Beijing or whatever, go into to the American Embassy. Speak out for somebody! There’s so much you can do Rick. An advocate can really make a tremendous difference.
The website for The Wilberforce Group is 21Wilberforce.org.
Now our emphasis has been on this issue. We want to do everything we can! We’re particularly hoping that Trump/Pence administration will aggressively go out and do some things to save Christianity, basically in Iraq and in Syria. And the whole issue of Nigeria.
Well, Congressman Wolf, thank you so much for your time. God bless you for your continued work. And we look forward to having you back again soon!
Thank you very much.
Stay with us, folks. We’ll be right back with David and Tim Barton.
Bring A Speaker To Your Area
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Welcome back. Thanks for staying with on WallBuilders Live! Special thanks to former Congressman Frank Wolf. Appreciate him coming on today and certainly all the years of service and work towards legislation like this.
We’re back with David and Tim Barton. Wolf didn’t get into too much of the specifics in terms of what the bill actually does on improving the situation. But literally, Congress had to go in and specifically say, “You gotta start setting this up to where people pay more attention to it. That we empower the person that’s heading this up and not let this get shelved. That this becomes a top priority for our diplomacy once again.”
Reporting Directly To The Secretary
Yeah, he mentioned the fact that you now have to report directly to the secretary themselves and that cuts out about 83 different levels of bureaucracy. Instead of filing a report, this gets filed up and up and up, and you hope it percolates to the top.
Now, you go on directly to the person at the top. That is a massive, massive, massive shift! To give you an indication of how big the bureaucracy is. As I remember the stats, I don’t know what it is this year. But it had been that if you looked at the Department of Health and Human Services, that one department by themselves based on the number of employees that that department had. And that’s just one of the 19 or so different cabinet level departments that meet.
Not all of them have cabinets. But you have cabinet level like EPA meets with cabinet, meetings, etc. So, you look at 19 or so that meet in cabinet meetings. That one department in health and human services has so many employees that that one department by itself ranks as the world’s sixth largest government.
And it’s just one of our agencies. It would be the world’s sixth largest government. And it’s one of our 19 major agencies and thousands of minor agencies. So if you’re in Health and Human Services what are the chances that you’re going to get to report to the Secretary of Health and Human Services? Not much.
I remember, Dad, we were not long ago in a meeting with Gary Bauer. He was Deputy Secretary of Education and he talked about how he had all these assistants,
They were designated assistants to the Deputy Secretary of Education.
They were his helpers. His special — they work for him. And he said, “I’d never seen or met these people before.”
Removing The Red Tape
18 months before he met the guy. The guy was running a real estate business out of the Department of Education. He was always out selling. He was never there. 18 months before Bauer saw this guy who worked for him as a special assistant.
Who did nothing for the government but actually ran his own business. However, he had the title. He had the paycheck. And then he ran his own business on the side. So Gary Bauer said that what he started doing was every week he would just bring somebody in and fire him.
He said, “They don’t do anything. And I don’t even know who they are.” So they actually had to do a special thing through Congress where they passed some kind of legislation that said you cannot replace these guys in these special departments. And it was really just to stop him from firing people that worked for him that he never saw.
Which I thought, well at least you had somebody saying, “Wait a second. They can’t work for me if they don’t work for me. You can’t do that.”
But that’s kind of where we’ve gone. Is now we’ve grown these agencies. There’s not accountability. There are not the things you need. And because of it, we have all this red tape. So what now this bill does, what Frank Wolf did is remove so much of the red tape that would slow down the progress which is really encouraging that he was able to get this done.
Religious Liberty In Trade Agreement
And it goes along with the trend that’s been going. For example, Senator James Lankford out of Oklahoma, we talked to him about a year ago I think it was, where he was able to get a provision in the trade agreement. That says now whenever you negotiate a trade agreement, at that time they were negotiating with Vietnam.
And it said, “Whenever you negotiate a trade agreement you now have to make the condition of religious liberties a part of your negotiations. You have to take that into consideration.” Because we could say, “Oh we want China to be our trading partner.” Well, China is really bad on religious liberties. That has to now be a consideration before we grant them most favored nation status or whatever we’re going to grant them.
So we’re starting to see some things really work their way through Congress and even get signed by the president that will help us and give us tools in the battle to fight back. You’ll never end this persecution. You’ll never end it.
Way back in the beginning when the nation that we now know as Islam was birthed. Ishmael, you go back to that time. God said of Ishmael, “He’ll be a wild ass. His hand is going to be against every man.” I mean that’s essentially what it is. You know, a wild donkey that’s going to fight everything that comes along.
I was going to say, that there was a King James quote.
For any listeners that were bothered, that was King James Bible. We’re not throwing something out there inappropriate necessarily.
But he was going to fight everybody. That was going to be the nature of his descendants.
God Blessed Ishmael
And also that he was going to be a great nation. In the midst of fighting everybody, God said, “Abraham, I’m going to bless your descendant even though it was through Hagar. It wasn’t what the promise was.” But God was going to bless and make a great nation even though this great nation was going to be in essence like this thorn in the flesh to Israel.
Now, you can even look at followers of God, Christianity, Judaism, whatever it is, they really have become the thorn in the flesh. God has, in essence, allowed them to become a great nation.
There’s probably not going to be any point in time at which there’s not going to be some persecution going on. I t was that way whether it’s Nero, or whether it’s Islamicist, or whatever it is.
But these bills that we now have in our hand will at least give us the ability to slow some of that down, to stop some of that, to rescue some people, to save some lives, and that’s really important stuff. So this is a great bill! Thank you, Frank Wolf, for all you’ve done, for all those years in Congress. and fighting for this. And now to have a bill named after him, it’s great stuff!
You can find out more on our website WallBuildersLive.com. Thank you for listening today you’ve been listening to WallBuilders Live!