United States named to Christian persecution watchdog 2016 Hall of Shame Report
WASHINGTON (International Christian Concern) – Persecution watchdog and aid organization International Christian Concern (ICC) released its annual “Hall of Shame” report for 2016, highlighting the world’s 12 countries that are the worst persecutors of Christians. And for the first time in the ICC history, the United States has been included in the report.
The report divides countries into three categories – “Worst of the Worst,” “Core Countries” and “New and Noteworthy,” which includes the United States, as well as Russia and Mexico. This is the first time the Washington D.C.-based organization, which has assisted persecuted Christians since 1995, has included the United States in its annual “Hall of Shame.”
“We felt 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 are Mexico, Russia, and sadly, the United States,” said Jeff King, ICC President. “While conditions in the US 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.”
Exit polls made it clear Supreme Court nominations and religious liberty were two driving forces in the outcome of the 2016 U.S. election. President-elect Trump promised to place conservative justices who would uphold issues important to people of faith on the Supreme Court, and he promised to protect the First Amendment and religious freedom.
Many voters heard these promises, and according to a CNN exit poll, 56 percent of Trump supporters said Supreme Court nominations was their main reason for voting. Additionally, 56 percent of Protestant Christians (80 percent of White Evangelicals) voted for Mr. Trump.
“The Founders carefully and deliberately placed religious freedom as the first liberty because it encompasses several fundamental rights including thought, speech, expression and assembly,” the “Hall of Shame” states.“The First Amendment explicitly grants freedom of religion, not freedom from religion. The essential aim is to protect the right of citizens to practice religion in the public square.”
ICC’s 15-page report also highlights conditions for Christians in Iraq, Syria, Nigeria, North Korea, Egypt, and Pakistan, among others. Featured prominently in the report, Saudi Arabia takes the “lead place” in the “core of the Hall of Shame” largely due to its decades-long funding of radical Islamic movements globally. According to the report, Saudi textbooks “can be found in schools across the Muslim world” and “teach discrimination against Christians and Jews while encouraging the spread of Islam through jihad as a religious duty.”
The 2016 report also includes a case study on India which examines an “escalation of attacks on Christians in India coinciding with the rise of the Bharatiya Janata Party.” ICC recorded over 272 attacks on Christians and their places of worship in India in the first nine months of 2016, marking a “dramatic escalation” over 2015.
Jeff King stated, “The amount of violence, imprisonment and discrimination against Christians being reported to us by our networks around the world is simply catastrophic. The report calls out and shames governments who allow rampant attacks on believers to take place or are directly involved in prosecuting Christians for their faith. It also warns of countries where religious freedom is deteriorating rapidly and serves as a wake-up call for churches around the world, regardless of denomination, to come to the aid of our brothers and sisters who suffer so much for the cause of Christ.”