The eight most dangerous places to be religious

SINCE 1999, the U.S. State Department has tracked the world’s worst abusers of religious rights.

As the most recent report notes, it has never lacked for material. Persecutions of people of faith are rising across the globe.

Among the most worrying trends, according to the State Department, are “authoritarian governments that restrict their citizens’ ability to practice their religion.”

Burma: The Burmese government puts a stranglehold on every religion except Theravada Buddhism, says the State Department.

Some government officials even enticed non-Buddhists to convert, and Muslims in the state of Rakhine, particularly Rohingya Muslims, are subject to discrimination and lethal violence, according to the State Department.

China: “The government harassed, detained, arrested, or sentenced to prison a number of religious adherents for activities reportedly related to their religious beliefs and practice,” the State Department says.

That includes jailing Uyghur Muslims, one of whom was sentenced to 10 years in jail for “selling illegal religious material,” and Catholic clergy who were arrested for not belonging to the state-run Catholic Patriotic Association.

That pales compared with the persecution of Tibetan Buddhists, according to the State Department, who suffered through “an intense official crackdowns at monasteries and nunneries resulting in the loss of life, arbitrary detentions, and torture.”

Eritrea: Just four religious groups are officially allowed to openly practice their faith in this African nation; the rest are out of luck, subject to jailing or worse.

So if you’re not an Eritrean Orthodox Christian, a Sunni Muslim, a Roman Catholic or an Evangelical Lutheran, life could be tough for you here. Harsh detentions for religious dissenters are the norm, according to the State Department.

Iran: This Muslim-majority country’s respect for religious rights has actually declined in recent years, according to the State Department.

“There were increased reports that the government charged religious and ethnic minorities with moharebeh (enmity against God), ‘anti-Islamic propaganda,’ or vague national security crimes for their religious activities,” says the department’s report.

Specifically, the government has imprisoned numerous members of the Baha’i faith and Saeed Abedini, an Iranian-American pastor who has been physically and psychologically abused, according to the State Department.

North Korea: Human rights groups provided numerous reports that members of underground churches were arrested, beaten, tortured or killed because of their religious beliefs, the State Department says.

The authoritarian nation has jailed as many as 200,000 political prisoners, according to the State Department, many on religious grounds. The country discourages any religious activity not sanctioned by officially recognized groups.

Saudi Arabia: The oil-rich monarchy doesn’t even pretend to respect religious rights for any faith other than Islam.

Sunni Islam is the official religion, and the country’s constitution is based on the Quran and the teachings of the Prophet Mohammed. The public practice of any other religion is prohibited, according to the State Department, and Arabian authorities beheaded a man in 2012 for engaging in “sorcery.”

Sudan:
Sudan penalizes blasphemy and conversion from Islam, sentencing a Christian woman to death this week. It has also arrested and deported Western Christians suspected of spreading their faith.

The country’s “morality police” require strict obedience to its interpretation of Islamic law, beating and stoning women accused of acting “indecently.”

Uzbekistan: Technically, this country’s laws respect religious rights.

But in practice, the Central Asian nation maintains strict control of its majority-Muslim population, according to the State Department.

“The government continued to imprison individuals based on charges of extremism; raid religious and social gatherings of unregistered and registered religious communities; confiscate and destroy religious literature, including holy books; and discourage minors from practicing their faith,” the department said in its 2012 report.

People jailed on charges of “religious extremism” have been beaten, tortured and even killed, according to the State Department.
(CNN)

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26 thoughts on “The eight most dangerous places to be religious

  1. True. True. Terrible!
    Reminds one of the Canaanites, the Crusades, the Inquisitions, the Holy Roman Empire, Catholicism and then Protestantism, endless missionary Colonialism, assorted Jihads and other murderous religious incursions ~ including the Muhammedan decree (passed down from allah, of course,) that all non-believers “of the book” be put to the sword, etc. etc. etc.
    Even the god of all the universes had his own kid crucified for not upholding the faith.
    ….and, of course, come judgment day all non-believers of the One True Faith will be Dead Ducks: consigned to Hell’s kitchen for processing.

    Get the drift?
    Where god goes murder and misery follow.
    Human Nature dates back several million years: it won’t be eradicated by having the gods change their minds from time to time, due to popular demand.

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      • Not quite. Optimism, to have any value, can only spring from recognising the realities.
        Accurate diagnosis is the ONLY basis from which to effect repair.

        Any sadness or bitterness in me is entirely due to ‘everybody complaining about the weather and nobody doing anything about it.
        They crucified Jesus because he kept reminding them of that.
        Much more comfortable and ‘ordered’ to maintain the status quo ~ and all the established institutions which grow fat on it than actually fix it.

        Still, look on the bright side:- It gives us something to whine about.
        Brave New World described the situation perfectly.

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    • Dabbles, there is much wrong in the whole world, not just in the fields of religion. There are two ways of redressing it. To actively fight it begets resistance, possibly strengthening it. To look for whatever is good and encourage that is I believe a far more effective way.

      We are inclined to think there is increasing evil in the world because so much of it is newsworthy and comes directly into our living rooms. But I feel that things were a great deal worse in the past, unbeknownst to most of us. The fact that evil is so newsworthy actually shows it is not the norm. The fact that we are now so aware of it stops us from hiding our heads in the sand. We have to acknowledge it in order to counteract it by encouraging alternatives.

      Don’t you think so, Dabs? I guess not. Oh well….

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  2. ps. Note my tactfully reconciliatory omission of mention of the contemporary Palestinian enthnic-cleansing. 😉

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  3. Hmmm. Quite a discussion. Dabbles, I do understand where your’e coming from. Many have been killed due to religious persecution and yes, Christianity is part of that history. But this wasn’t what Christ ever preached and not what He encouraged. These were extremists. No Christian I know ascribes to violence. Can I also suggest that I think you’re kind of trying to start a fight? You’re statement about God “crucifying his kid” proves you’ve never studied read the Bible and sounds a little contrived. Having said that, you are allowed to have your opinion.

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    • Hi Rebecca,
      Hmm. Your comment reminds me of that peculiar statement that appeared on this forum several months ago. It ran ‘God sacrificed his only son.’ (Does anyone here right now, want to confirm or lay claim to that extraordinary article of ‘faith’? I would enjoy discussing it.)

      Having said that, I might add that I have read my Bible very analytically and frequently over the 70 odd years of my life, and Dabbles’ toss away comment about ‘God crucifying his kid’ is a rather crude way of expressing the biblical message about the Incarnation, and a pretty shrewd and shorthand way of saying it. Actually, I rather suspect that Dabbles has indeed read his Bible well, in the past, if not in the present. That true Dabs?

      Rian.

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      • No Rian,
        The peculiarity is the statement that you make on studying the Bible for 70 years (analytically you might add) then saying that “God sacrificed his only son” is an extraordinary article of faith!

        How is it that the following Bible passages have escaped your attention?

        Hebrews 9:22 – Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins.

        Luke 22:42 – “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.”

        John 8:56-58 “Abraham saw my day and rejoiced…”

        “It has been understood that Abraham saw Christ in type and figure on that memorable day when he took Isaac up to the top of Mount Moriah and, at the command of God, unsheathed his knife to slay his son! Abraham must then have seen the Everlasting Father about to act in the same fashion towards His only-begotten Son. He saw, in Isaac, the victim bound and laid upon the altar and then, in the ram caught in the thicket, he saw the very symbol of the Lamb of God, who, in the fullness of time, would be offered upon the altar of Calvary for our sakes, that He might die as our Substitute and Representative. There could never have been, I think, a more plain parallel than in this case—and in all these types Abraham saw Jesus Christ’s day, and was glad.” Spurgeon – Selected Works

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      • Hi davinci,
        Thanks for your prompt posting and answer.

        I can assure you that the texts you quote have never escaped me. I was probably learning the story of Abraham and Isaac at Sunday School, before you were born. Obviously those texts represent quite well the points of view of the authors; and the Spurgeon quote is totally predicable for an Evangelical. Anyway for the moment, a few questions for you. –

        What is the exact meaning of the word ‘Sacrifice’?

        How is it conceiveably possible for the Christian God to ‘make’ a Sacrifice?

        How did the Christian God make a sacrifice in regard to Jesus?

        Does the Christian God ‘live’ in eternity – both backwards and forwards (in our human terms)?

        If a day in God’s sight is (metaphorically) like a thousand years in our terms, then one of our human days would have to represent the most incredibly miniscule micro-second in the sight of the Eternal God?

        After the death by Crucifixion, was the Second Person of the Holy Trinity truly and literally dead? – deceased/non existent, and without consciousness on any level?

        Cheers, Rian.

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      • Sort of; but not in the usual way. Rather than seeking to confirm what I want to believe, I’ve got know the ‘scriptures’ very well due to my rejection of the whole (if unwholesome!) mythology which has had ~ and has ~ such a huge effect on people: whether they wanted to be effected or not.
        It pays to know your opponent.

        Reading something with a view to dispute means you cover a lot more ground than if you’re simply trying to win a point.
        Unfortunately the once-fine memory isn’t nearly as good as it was ~ but a contrary approach still leaves one with the knowledge of where to look for what you need because there are so many connections to any one thing.
        ….if I remember correctly! 😉

        ps Except I can’t remember where the quote came from that made the comment that ‘whether the stone hits the urn, or the urn the stone, it’s always the urn that gets broken’.

        Thought it was Omar….which took me off on that tangent!

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      • Rian,
        The Bible talks about some people who are:

        2 Tim 3:7- Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

        Why?

        Col. 2:8 – beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

        If you need to ask how it is possible for the Christian God to make a sacrifice, it means that you have become so blinded by non-Christian philosophy that you cannot understand the basic tenets of Christianity. You cannot understand the role of the Law of God and the atonement. You cannot possibly appreciate what we’ve become because of sin. You cannot appreciate the cost that was involved in purchasing our Redemption.

        Frankly I don’t know where to start explaining these concepts to you given that you claim to have studied the Scriptures for so long. However I’ll try to summarise the answer to your question by this quote:

        “Christ took our punishment which He did not deserve, so that we might be partakers of His glory which we do not deserve”.

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      • davinci,
        oh dear, you still did not answer any of my questions. The text that you offered, presumably as a final knockdown argument, simply didnt answer any of my points. I’m wanting to know just how YOU define it all, since you have so firmly defended that line stating that ‘God sacrificed his Son.’ I want to know the exact logic in the precise terms used in the sentence.

        I still want to know what you consider that word Sacrifice means, and although you appeared to attribute the supreme sacrifice to CHRIST (a concept I’m perfectly familiar with) you didnt indicate how the GOD HIMSELF offered a sacrifice, and just why it should be regarded so hugely costly to the Persons of the Trinity?

        What about the other questions about the extent of God’s existence and his view of time; as well as the problem of whether the Second Person of the Trinity him-self truly and literally died via the Crucifixion. Do you believe that literally or not?

        Rian

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      • Primitive religious sacrifice was an attempt to bribe whatever god you nominated, also a source of food for the priests, and perhaps for their poor.

        Then I believe the aspect of karma entered, as ye sew so shall ye reap,etc. The law of cause and effect was recognised. And it is here that grace is supposed to come into the equation. It is said that was made possible through Jesus taking on the sins of the world.

        If he was resurrected in the flesh, and not just ascended to Heaven in spirit, if he in fact overcame death, then he did not die. There was no sacrifice, nor was one needed, except in the minds of people of that culture. But how else were people of that culture to be convinced of God’s grace?

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      • Rian

        Read Romans 3:25

        “God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood–to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished–” (NIV)
        .
        “..you didnt indicate how the GOD HIMSELF offered a sacrifice, and just why it should be regarded so hugely costly to the Persons of the Trinity?”

        Please note that the whole sacrificial system was set up by God Himself (in the Old Testament) as an illustration of Jesus (the Lamb of God) who takes away the sins of the world. The New Testament tells us that it was a shadow of the sacrifice of Jesus (book of Hebrews), but the reality behind the Old Testament sacrificial system was what Jesus did at the cross. So God the Father Himself offered a Sacrifice, by instituting how the problem of sin was to be addressed (namely killing a perfect victim instead of the offender).

        More to come. I gotta go for the moment.

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      • Hi davinci,
        I havent forgotten you. Have been a bit busy the last few days, and will be answering your last post to me as soon as can spare the time.

        The verse you quoted there was a good answer for the moment.

        Rian.

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    • Hi Rebecca. Yep, you can suggest anything you like. And perhaps you’re right in thinking I’m “kind of trying to start a fight”; constipation is a pain in the arse (!), but eating more cotton-wool sandwhiches can only make it worse. An enema is called for.

      The ongoing crusade to sanitise and sychronise primitive biblical scripts only acts like said cotton-wool sandwhich and solves nothing.

      One good example is the (below) talk of ‘sacrifice’:- Jesus wasn’t ‘sacrificed’ by his father, nor (given the ‘trinity’ cotton-ball) even committed suicide.
      In reality he was created (or self-created in a pastoral sense) specifically to be crucified. Everything else in the whole ‘christian story’ is incidental to that. He HAD to be killed ~ and ‘his father’ had him killed ~ in order to support the (various and vague)
      paternal prophecies. (Even if they were way off the mark in the execution thereof.)

      Needless to say I concede none the canonical yarn ~ though use its lessons as philosophical fodder; it’s permeating enough to make that necessary.
      And for that very reason can affirm that I am very familiar with ‘the scriptures’ (and theology generally). I’m a contrarian by nature, which means being conversant with tthe topic I’m disputing. Perhaps the main aim is that I don’t look at such stuff with a pre-conceived idea of what I want the bottom-line to be. Being a counter-puncher has it’s benefits, but one still has to know how to throw a punch.

      Personally I prefer a more realistic approach:-

      LXVIII.
      What! out of senseless Nothing to provoke
      A conscious Something to resent the yoke
      Of unpermitted Pleasure, under pain
      Of Everlasting Penalties, if broke!
      LXIX.
      What! from his helpless Creature be repaid
      Pure Gold for what he lent us dross-allay’d —
      Sue for a Debt we never did contract,
      And cannot answer — Oh the sorry trade!
      LXX.
      Nay, but for terror of his wrathful Face,
      I swear I will not call Injustice Grace;
      Not one Good Fellow of the Tavern but
      Would kick so poor a Coward from the place.
      LXXI.
      Oh Thou, who didst with pitfall and with gin
      Beset the Road I was to wander in,
      Thou will not with Predestin’d Evil round
      Enmesh me, and impute my Fall to Sin?
      LXXII.
      Oh, Thou, who Man of baser Earth didst make,
      And who with Eden didst devise the Snake;
      For all the Sin wherewith the Face of Man
      Is blacken’d, Man’s Forgiveness give — and take!

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      • ps…. y’can tell it speaks of the jewish god; the comparison with Shylock is unavoidable! ;lol;

        What! from his helpless Creature be repaid
        Pure Gold for what he lent us dross-allay’d –
        Sue for a Debt we never did contract,
        And cannot answer — Oh the sorry trade!

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      • ….. and, come to think of it, catholicism may be well on the way to promoting universal brotherhood!:-

        And lately, by the Tavern Door agape,
        Came stealing through the Dusk an Angel Shape
        Bearing a Vessel on his Shoulder; and
        He bid me taste of it; and ’twas — the Grape!
        XLV.
        The Grape that can with Logic absolute
        The Two-and-Seventy jarring Sects confute:
        The subtle Alchemest that in a Trice
        Life’s leaden Metal into Gold transmute.

        Even the Irish don’t brawl about religion when they’re all pissed! 😆

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      • Ah Dabbles,
        Delighted to see you quoting from one of my favourite poems, Fitzgerald’s Rubaiyat. Quite a few years back, our city had a Arts centred Winter Festival, and over two years I conducted programmes of literary readings in various historical localities here. One year my theme was titled Necropolis, in which I read key passages from famous stories of Gothic ‘Horror’. The novels covered some 150 years, from 1750. Included were Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Stevenson’s Dr Jeckyl, and finished with Stoker’s Dracula. And a few other books that momentarily escape me.

        The other year I offered readings of my five favourite long poems. These were Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner, Lewis Carroll’s Hunting of the Snark, the said Omar Khayyam, (slightly different edition to some of the verses you quoted), then Poe’s The Raven, and finished with Wilde’s Ballad of Reading Gaol. They were very well received, but despite all having been big favourites of mine up till that time,, I found by the end that the Lewis Carroll and the Poe had become tiresome to me, the other three serious long ones just became more and more dear to me.

        cheers, Rian.

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    • Thanks. And here is my opinion:-

      What I was getting at Rebecca was that god didn’t create us as the most violent sadistic brutes the world has ever seen, but that we’re that way by nature, and have invented the gods who’d justify it, rather than done something about discovering why we’re like that and trying to ameliorate it.

      And as for christians not ascribing to violence, I can only say you ought to get out more. Christianity, no less than any other religion, is built upon and depends on violence; all the bits of the jewish god to which christians cling most closely are the most violent. (God must love a sinner: he made so many of them, somebody said.)
      ……..and the whole idea of martyrdom (like getting crucified) hinges on violence. How do you think ‘christianity’ would’ve coped if Jesus had been the High Priest’s son, lived a life of comfort and usefulness and then died of old age humping his harem?

      ALL the christians I knew ~ and their friends:altogether dozens of people ~ made a jolly -old group outing to watch Mel Gibson (The Passion of the Christ) being tortured and abused; reminded me of the excitement of going on Sunday School Picnics every year when I was a kid.

      No non-believer I knew went, as didn’t I !, and was lambasted for not ‘showing respect’/whatever.

      They came back much subdued, and I pointed out that if they wanted violence all they had to do was look at what we’d done to the earth and everything in it.
      ….and copped a shitload of flack for that as well, for not respecting their upset state.

      Any christian here onsite that didn’t see it?

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  4. Please note the following things that the New Testament says (and we seem to forget in the west):

    – All that live a godly life shall suffer persecution – 2 Tim. 3:12. In fact the closer one comes to Christ, the more one experiences persecution.
    – Ye shall be hated of all men for my sake Mat. 10:22.

    Whilst Jesus came with the label of Prince of Peace, He never promised us that persecution is an unnatural state of being for a Christian. In fact it is more natural for a Christian to be persecuted than not to be. Because as soon as one becomes a Christian, s/he arouses the hatred of all that is Satanic. That is why God said that He will put “enmity between the seed of the woman and that of the serpent”.

    If we don’t have persecution in the west, we must ask ourselves why? What have we compromised so that we are conformed to this world, instead of being transformed in the image of Christ (See Romans 12:2)? The devil has no problem with those who become members of the Christian church whilst unconverted; it is always those who are converted, that soon find themselves in trouble!

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    • Candida Moss says we Christians need to get over our martyr complex. Her book, “The Myth of Martyrdom,” identifies the martyrdom legacy that has led Christians to see themselves as the righteous “us” against the demonic “them”

      The problem with using persecution as the template for the modern world is that is becomes prescriptive. she says. “, we humans tend to renact our sacred narratives. If we valorize martyrs, we tend to see ourselves in their role — and we tend to see those who disagree with us as unbelievers, enemies, murderers, or even allies of the devil. We cannot hear legitimate criticism because our imaginations transform dissent into attack. We close off our ability to learn, to change, or even to empathize.”

      Liked by 1 person

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