SANTA ANA, Calif. Open Doors USA, a prayer and resource ministry for the persecuted church, has launched a "Free to Believe" campaign to defeat a United Nations resolution that could target Christians.
According to Open Doors, the Defamation of Religions Resolutionintroduced annually at the UN seeks to criminalize words or actions that are deemed to be against a particular religion.
Although proponents justify the "defamation of religions" concept as protecting religious practice and promoting tolerance, it really promotes intolerance and violates the freedoms of religion and expression for religious minoritiesespecially Christiansin these countries.
"Many Christians living in these countries are already severely impacted by restrictive lawsespecially those living under strict Shariah law," Carl Moeller, president and CEO of Open Doors, said in a statement.
"From the right to worship freely to the ability to share the gospel, the Defamation of Religions Resolution threatens to justify local laws that already marginalize Christians. As Americans, we have enjoyed a long tradition of religious liberty. The Defamation of Religions Resolution is a blow against religious freedom."
Such protections, even in a non-binding resolution, have been used against Christians as happened several months ago when Muslim extremists rampaged for several days through a Christian area in Gojra, Pakistan. At least seven Christians were killed and 19 were injured in the attacks that left more than 100 houses looted and burned, according to Compass Direct News.
The rioting, Compass reported, was touched off by an unsubstantiated rumor of "blasphemy" of the Quran. Muslims use blasphemy laws in Pakistan against Christians and other minorities in land and other disputes. Under these laws, no evidence is required to accuse and have someone arrested on a charge of blasphemy.
The persecution of Christians goes far beyond Pakistan, and their plight may worsen if a resolution ostensibly against intolerance is approved at the United Nations this fall, Open Doors officials said.
The Organization of the Islamic Conference, an intergovernmental organization of 57 countries with majority or significant Muslim populations, has been the driving force behind this resolution. The OIC is expected to introduce another Defamation of Religions Resolution to the UN General Assembly.
While the Defamation of Religions Resolution has been introduced and passed by some countries in the past, it is expected to be brought up again in November or December. Policy experts at the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom believe there is a real opportunity to defeat it this year. Members of Congress and nonprofit organizations will be urging countries to vote against the resolution. Also, the U.S. government does not support passage of the resolution.
As part of its campaign Open Doors said it will lobby key countries which will vote, organize a petition drive for Open Doors supporters to campaign against the resolution, and speak on this issue to the media.
"It is crucial that this resolution is defeated. Join our advocacy team now," Moeller said. "We need to stand in the gap for our brothers and sisters in Christ."
For more information, call toll free at 1-888-524-2535 or go to www.OpenDoorsUSA.org.