The World Evangelical Alliance told the U.N. last month that Christians are "the largest single group in the world which is being denied human rights on the basis of their faith."
The WEA, previously the World Evangelical Fellowship, was assigned official observer status by the United Nations in 1997, which gives the group the right to present an annual report before the Human Rights Commission in Geneva. The WEA claims to represent 150 million Protestants in 114 nations, and is linked to a network of some 2,000 Parliamentary representatives in 60 nations. Rev. Johan Candelin, Director of the WEA Commission for Religious Freedom, presented the report at the United Nations at Geneva on April 9.
The report declared that 200 million Christians around the world suffer persecution and the deprivation of fundamental human rights simply because they are Christians.
"It seems illogical to persecute people for sobriety, honesty, truth, honour, friendliness, hard work and solidarity with the weak," Candelin said. Some of the reasons why Christians are persecuted anyway are:
* A growing number of Christians threatens the feeling of national identity and the majority religion in various nations;
* Christians often speak out very clearly for democracy and human rights;
* Christians stand up for the broken, weak, handicapped, and those whose human rights are violated. This often makes those in power uneasy.
* Christians, it is claimed, represent Western influence, particularly from the USA;
* Christians cannot be controlled by the State; they worship a "different King";
* Christians are networked globally with other Christians;
* Some immature Christian groups speak of "conquest" and "claiming the land" that giving a false, militant impression of Christianity that frightens the uninitiated;
* Other religions feel threatened by a growing Christian movement, and have
a suspicion of new developments.
Religious persecution, according to Candelin, often goes through three phases. These are: disinformation (destroying Christians' good reputation, spreading rumors), then discrimination (turning them into second-class citizens), and finally by subtle and overt persecution, either by elements within the society or by representatives of the government itself. He said it's important to recognize "this three-stage development so that timely, firm and appropriate action can be taken the moment there is any sign of disinformation."