Time: Sun Jul 13 06:45:24 1997
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Date: Sun, 13 Jul 1997 06:05:22 -0700
To: (Recipient list suppressed)
From: Paul Andrew Mitchell [address in tool bar]
Subject: SLS: Letters of the Republic (fwd)

>                   LETTERS OF THE REPUBLIC
>                     The Price of Faith
>In the Lion's Den, by Nina Shea, Nashville: Broadman & Holman
>Publishers, 1997, 126 pages, paperback, $9.99. Order from American
>Opinion Book Services, P.O. Box 8040, Appleton, WI 54913. Add $2.00
>for shipping and handling.
>While staying at a hotel in Cairo, Egypt in September 1994, I saw
>a telling glimpse of the realities of modern anti-Christian
>persecution during a conversation with the couple in charge of
>housecleaning. As I let them into my room, the couple noticed the
>black book I was holding. When the husband shyly asked what it was,
>I told him that it was the Bible.
>The couple's eyes widened in wonderment, and the wife quietly asked
>if she could hold the Holy Book. When I handed it to her, she
>pressed it gently to her forehead and then to her heart, her eyes
>moistening with reverent gratitude. Her husband explained to me
>that as Christians in Egypt, they had never actually held a Bible,
>and that the government increasingly allowed Muslim extremists to
>persecute Christians as infidels and apostates from the Islamic
>faith. Although the English text of my Bible was unintelligible to
>them, they were both gratified to be holding God's Word in tangible
>form. The hushed tones in which they talked to each other of the
>privilege were as much a product of persecution as of reverence.
>Suffering for Their Lord
>Nina Shea, director of the Puebla Project at Freedom House, soberly
>informs us that the travails of Egypt's Christians typify the
>reality in much of the contemporary world. "Millions of American
>Christians pray in their churches each week, oblivious to the fact
>that Christians in many parts of the world suffer brutal torture,
>arrest, imprisonment, and even death - their homes and communities
>laid waste - for no other reason than that they are Christians,"
>Shea writes in the introduction of In the Lion's Den. "The
>shocking, untold story of our time is that more Christians have
>died in this century simply for being Christians than in the first
>nineteen centuries after the birth of Christ."
>Shea's study examines the persecution of the Church in 11 countries
>- China, Sudan, Pakistan, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam,
>Egypt, Nigeria, Cuba, Laos, and Uzbekistan. All of these regimes
>"evidence a worldwide trend of anti-Christian persecution based on
>two political ideologies - communism and militant Islam." The sad
>truth is that the governments of the secular West are often
>complicit in that persecution, either through acquiescence or
>through active support for anti-Christian regimes.
>"In the fundamental matter of religious freedom, the United States
>is forfeiting its leadership," Shea declares. This is particularly
>true in the case of Christians suffering under communist regimes,
>particularly that of Red China. "Freedom House has a list of names
>of about two hundred Christian clergy and church leaders who were
>imprisoned or under some form of detention or restriction in
>mid-1996 because of religious activities," Shea reports. "There are
>thought to be thousands of Christians now imprisoned for their
>faith in China's religious gulag.... Some are serving sentences of
>up to a dozen years or more on 'counterrevolutionary' charges, but
>the fact is they were incarcerated for practicing their faith."
>Shea points out that in China today, "there are more Christians in
>prison because of religious activities than in any other nation in
>the world. Protestants are arrested and tortured for holding prayer
>meetings, preaching, and distributing Bibles without state
>approval. Roman Catholic priests and bishops are imprisoned for
>celebrating Mass and administering the sacraments without official
>The case of 31-year-old Huang Fangxin typifies the regime's
>treatment of "unauthorized" religious worship and instruction.
>Huang had resigned from the government-sanctioned Jinling Union
>Theological Seminary to devote more time to evangelism. He
>recruited ten other young preachers as a "gospel team" to preach
>the Word of God to China's youth. For doing so, he was arrested in
>early 1994 and accused of being the "ringleader of an illegal
>religious organization" that was "disturbing the social order and
>normal religious life," "influencing the stability and unity of
>village life," and collaborating with "hostile forces from abroad."
>Huang was sentenced to three years of "reform through labor" in the
>regime's laogai prison system, and his colleagues and church remain
>under surveillance from the Beijing regime's Public Security Bureau
>Another Christian leader currently languishing in the laogai is
>Charles Guo Bo Le, a Catholic priest who has spent a total of 30
>years - more than half of his life - in prison. Shea reproduces the
>January 4, 1996 "Decision Letter" (obtained and translated by the
>Connecticut-based Cardinal Kung Foundation) of the Jiangsu Province
>"Reform Through Labor Management Committee" sentencing the priest
>to "two years of reform through labor" for such "crimes" as
>offering Mass, administering the sacrament of the sick, providing
>Bible and Catechism instruction for youth, and otherwise "seriously
>disturbing the normal religious and social order."
>Accelerated Crackdown
>According to American Christians who have been in contact with
>China's underground Christian church, 1996 was "the most repressive
>period" for both Protestants and Catholics since the late 1970s.
>The Chinese government controls "official" Christian communities
>through the Religious Affairs Bureau, which oversees the Catholic
>Patriotic Association (CPA) and the Three-Self Patriotic Movement
>for Protestants. "Those with ultimate power for controlling
>religion in China are atheists - they are required to be so by
>Communist Party regulations," observes Shea. "State religious
>policy, as explained by Chinese President Ziang Zemin in the March
>14, 1996 edition of the People's Daily, is to 'actively guide
>religion so that it can be adapted to socialist society.'"
>Those Christians who eschew the Party-controlled ersatz religious
>bodies compose China's "House Church" movement, which may include
>up to 100 million people out of a population of 1.2 billion. Since
>1994, the Red Chinese oligarchy has embarked on a campaign to renew
>"socialist spiritual civilization," and that campaign includes a
>coordinated effort to register underground Christian congregations,
>identify and punish pastors, priests, and missionaries, destroy
>unauthorized religious buildings and shrines, and indoctrinate the
>young in the tenets of atheist materialism.
>To carry out the new campaign, the communist elite appointed
>Leninist hard-liner Ye Xiaowen as head of the Religious Affairs
>Burean in July 1995. Ye described his approach to religious affairs
>in the March 1996 issue of the Chinese publication Renmin Ribao:
>We must adopt an "especially discreet," "very rigorous" and
>"circumspect" attitude toward these issues, as suggested by
>Lenin.... If, with a lapse of attention, they are not handled
>properly, it may undermine social stability, reform and opening up,
>and the overall interests of economic construction.
>In the Shanghai Province, the Party's "especially discreet"
>approach resulted in raids on hundreds of unregistered churches and
>the arrest and punishment of dozens of Christian leaders in the
>Spring of 1996. In Zhejiang Province between February and June
>1996, police destroyed at least 15,000 unregistered churches,
>temples, and other religious sites. In Hebei Province, several
>Catholic priests, including two bishops, were arrested, their
>congregations were forced to register with the CPA, and at least
>4,000 Catholics were pressured to make public recantations of their
>One of the Catholic leaders arrested during the spring 1996
>crackdown in Hebei Province was Bishop Su Chimin, the 64-year-old
>auxiliary bishop of Baoding. Bishop Su had already spent a total of
>15 years in prison for his religious activities. "Once he was
>beaten by security police until the board they were using was
>reduced to splinters," Shea recalls. "Not satisfied, the police
>then dismantled a wooden door frame in order to continue the
>beating, which soon splintered as well. On another occasion, the
>bishop was bound by the wrists and suspended from the ceiling while
>beaten. His head received numerous blows, causing permanent hearing
>loss." In another episode, Bishop Su was "placed in a closet-sized
>room filled with water at varying levels, from ankle-deep to hip-
>deep. He was left there for several days, unable to sit or sleep."
>Elsewhere, the PSB killed, beat, and tortured Protestant leaders
>during the nationwide crackdown. In Henan Province, a 36-year-old
>woman named Zhang Xiuju was dragged out of her home and beaten to
>death by police on the night of May 26, 1996. During a March raid
>on a house church in Xinjiang Province, 17 Christians were
>arrested. "Police severely beat several of the Christians, knocking
>out one woman's front teeth, and poured scalding water on those who
>resisted orders," Shea recounts. The five women who took
>responsibility for the congregation were imprisoned.
>Dogmatic Indifference
>The U.S. government and corporate elite have remained dogmatically
>indifferent to the suffering of China's Christians. Shea points out
>that when Bill Clinton met with his Red Chinese counterpart during
>the UN's October 1995 50th anniversary celebration in New York, "he
>proclaimed that the greatest threat China now poses to the world is
>pollution. U.S. officials also vigorously spoke out against Chinese
>piracy of American computer software and compact discs. Yet no
>official statements were made expressing concern that Chinese
>authorities are now waging the greatest crackdown against
>Protestant house-church members and Roman Catholics since the late
>Shea attributes this lack of concern to "a shocking ignorance about
>the plight of persecuted Christians" among the "architects of
>American foreign policy." She cites the example of U.S. Ambassador
>to China James Sasser, who "spent nine months being briefed by the
>State Department for his new post. Yet during a January 1996
>meeting with religious liberty advocates on the eve of his
>departure for Beijing, Sasser displayed a breathtaking gap in his
>education. When the religious liberty activists expressed their
>concern about growing repression against the tens of millions of
>Chinese Christians who attend underground house churches, Sasser
>asked: 'What's a house church?'"
>However, Shea is being generous in attributing the problem to
>"ignorance." Sasser, a former senator from Tennessee and a member
>of the Council on Foreign Relations, is intelligent and well-
>traveled, and the investigative resources available to him through
>the CIA and the State Department are at least as reliable as those
>available to private groups such as Freedom House. He was
>"ignorant" because he chose to be, and because the priorities of
>the American Establishment he serves are identical with those of
>the Red Chinese regime: Renewal of most favored nation (MFN) status
>for China, increased trade between China and the U.S., and joint
>U.S.-Chinese diplomatic and military ventures.
>Persecution in Vietnam
>Christians are being aggressively martyred elsewhere in the
>communist and "former" communist world. Shea writes that in the
>former Soviet republic of Uzbekistan, President Islam Karimov, an
>"ex"-communist and nominal Muslim, "has adopted several policies to
>restrict religion - especially Christianity." In spite of a
>provision in the Uzbek constitution supposedly protecting freedom
>of religion, the government promulgated a law in 1991 forbidding
>unspecified "missionary activities."
>"Karimov has used nominal Islam to shore up his government's
>legitimacy, although he has at the same time clamped down against
>Muslim extremists hoping to establish a militant Islamic state,"
>observes Shea. In 1995, Karimov's government enacted a Soviet-style
>"secret law" specifically aimed at Christianity, the text of which
>is shown only to Christian leaders arrested for violating it.
>Communist Vietnam, with which the Clinton Administration normalized
>relations in July 1995, has also embarked on a new campaign of
>persecution. In April 1995, while U.S. and Vietnamese officials
>were conferring over renewal of diplomatic relations, Christian
>evangelist To Dinh Trung, a Vietnamese house-church pastor, was
>arrested after teaching Bible lessons. When Trung was arraigned
>before a communist judge in October 1995, he protested that the
>torture he had received in jail was illegal. This infuriated the
>judge, who summarily pronounced a three-year prison sentence.
>Among the Christians imprisoned in Vietnam is Man Thi Jones, a 54-
>year-old American citizen who was arrested during a visit to her
>native village of Phan Rag on October 6, 1996 for the "crime" of
>distributing audio tapes of Bible messages and pens decorated with
>crosses. Since that time, she has been subjected to daily police
>interrogations and pressure to sign a confession of criminal
>activity and pay a fine.
>Other Americans have been arrested in Vietnam for religious
>"offenses." In February 1996, three Americans visiting Vietnam with
>the evangelical group Youth with a Mission were detained for
>several days for singing hymns in a private home in Ho Chi Minh
>City. In September 1995, Vietnamese-American pastor An Doan Sauveur
>was arrested during an open-air service for 70 local Christians on
>a hillside near Haiphong. All of these Americans were expelled from
>the country following their detention.
>Nor have the Clinton Administration's diplomatic and economic
>overtures toward Vietnam moderated the communist elite's policies.
>At the Eighth Party Congress in June 1996, the regime announced an
>even harder line against Christianity.
>The Marxist regime in Laos also conducted a recent campaign against
>Christianity. During the February 1996 meeting of the Lao Front for
>National Construction, communist leaders stated that Christianity
>had replaced the United States as the "number one enemy of the
>people." Beginning in late 1994, teams of government workers were
>sent into rural villages to conduct anti-Christian seminars. Shea
>writes, "Many Christians attending the seminars were forced to sign
>an affidavit entitled 'Regarding Ceasing the Activity of the
>Christian Religion.'" Each Christian forced to sign that affidavit
>"confessed" that "I recognize that my beliefs are incorrect and not
>in keeping with the Party and government line. I verify I will not
>have any interaction with the national Christian Committee in
>Vientiane [the national leadership of the Lao Evangelical Church]."
>Fidel Castro's Stalinist regime in Cuba has - for purely tactical
>purposes - allowed limited religious activity in what was once an
>overwhelmingly Catholic country. However, as Baptist pastor Eliezer
>Veguilla can testify, there are abrupt and unyielding limits to the
>"freedom" permitted by Castro's government. In February 1994,
>Veguilla was arrested by Cuban security forces and ordered to
>"confess" to crimes against the state or "sleep with a bear" that
>evening. When the Pastor refused, he was thrown into a dark dungeon
>with a live bear.
>Rather than pleading for mercy from his captors, the pastor knelt
>in prayer in anticipation of joining the Lord. The bear, it turned
>out, was chained to a wall; Veguilla's tormentors were seeking to
>break his resistance and make him recant his faith. The pastor is
>a leader of Cuba's house church movement, and he could have been a
>valuable asset to the regime if he could have been "turned."
>Across the Islamic World
>In many Islamic nations, it is a capital offense for a Muslim to
>convert to Christianity. In Pakistan, for instance, the death
>penalty is prescribed for anyone who "by words, either spoken or
>written ... or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation,
>directly or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet
>[Mohammed]." This provision was used to convict 15-year-old Salamat
>Masih, an illiterate Christian convert who was accused of writing
>derogatory slogans against Mohammed on the wall of a mosque in
>The case against the youngster was weak: He cannot write, and the
>Muslim cleric who accused him claimed to have washed the graffiti
>off the mosque wall immediately and refused to repeat the insult in
>court. Yet Masih and two others were convicted and sentenced to
>death in 1995. An extraordinary international appeal resulted in an
>overturned conviction, but Masih and another defendant were forced
>to flee to Germany. In Pakistan, incidentally, many Christians have
>adopted the surname Masih, which means "Messiah"; they are
>literally suffering persecution in Christ's name.
>In the "moderate" Arab kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Shea reports, "All
>public and private Christian worship is completely banned, and all
>churches, Christian artifacts, and non-Muslim literature -
>including the Bible - are forbidden." A special police force called
>the muttawa is authorized to intrude into private homes to enforce
>the laws against non-Muslim worship. The laws apply to foreigners
>residing in Saudi Arabia, including U.S. diplomatic and military
>personnel: Shea reminds us that the U.S. Armed Forces required
>American servicemen stationed in Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War
>to divest themselves of Christian and Jewish religious literature
>and symbols. She also points out that persecution of Saudi
>Christians has escalated dramatically since the end of the Gulf
>The Emirate of Kuwait, which was rescued from Saddam Hussein's
>occupation during the Gulf War, declared Christian convert Robert
>Hussein an "apostate" in May 1996 and ordered his wife to divorce
>him, seized his property, and sentenced him to death. The Kuwaiti
>Islamic Court decree cited the declaration of Amar Al-Sabig that
>"Any Muslim who converts from Islam and attacks Mohammed's prophecy
>and accuses him of being a liar, his blood should be shed." The
>court allowed that the Kuwaiti constitution supposedly ensures
>religious freedom but specified, "These constitutional freedoms
>stem from Mohammed's teaching. The constitution respects freedom of
>religion without fear of being closely monitored, but it does not
>mean that a Muslim should be allowed to convert from his religion
>to another."
>Wrong Solutions
>In the Lion's Den is a valuable testament to the faith and courage
>of the humble followers of Jesus Christ who are willing to
>consecrate their lives and souls to their Lord. It is also a useful
>reminder of the complicity of Western political and diplomatic
>elites in the crimes committed against Christianity throughout the
>world. But this useful volume has some very important shortcomings,
>all of which are rooted in the mission of Freedom House.
>Created in 1941 by Eleanor Roosevelt and Wendell Willkie "to rally
>Americans against isolationism," Freedom House does commendable
>work in documenting offenses against the rights of individuals; to
>that end, the organization publishes very useful and scholarly
>annual reports on the state of freedom worldwide. However, the
>organization's mission statement explains that Freedom House
>"continues to promote an engaged U.S. foreign policy" - meaning,
>among other things, the entanglement of the United States in the
>United Nations, whose founding instruments and history demonstrate
>active hostility toward individual rights, particularly religious
>Shea asserts, "The rights of Christians and other groups to
>practice their religion freely - irrespective of the culture and
>customs of an area, or a Christian community's minority status - is
>universally recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
>and numerous other international treaties and instruments." Such
>"recognition" is a slender reed upon which to repose the hopes of
>Christians who suffer in such nations as Egypt, whose government
>has ratified the relevant UN "human rights" agreements. This is
>because the so-called "United Nations" is actually the United
>Governments; its constituent members are the very governments
>carrying out the abuses described by Shea. Furthermore, the UN's
>"human rights" documents all contain self-nullifying provisions
>which permit governments to withhold the rights supposedly granted
>by them. Thus the "Call to Action" contained in the final chapter
>of Shea's book is undermined by the recommendation that Christians
>should work through multilateral agencies - "especially the UN" -in
>order to alleviate the suffering of their brethren.
>Shea's book does mention numerous private Christian organizations -
>such as Voice of the Martyrs, Compass Direct, and the Cardinal Kung
>Foundation - groups which keep in contact with, and sometimes
>provide relief to, besieged Christians in communist and Islamic
>nations. The author also suggests that the worst offender,
>Communist China, is vulnerable to economic pressure; concerned
>Christians should agitate tirelessly to reverse America's drift
>into economic, political, and military "interdependence" with
>China, as well as with Vietnam.
>But the most important tasks for Christians are prayer and
>remembrance. Shea reminds us that when Peter and Paul were
>imprisoned by the Roman government, the entire Christian Church
>prayed on their behalf. We must remember the suffering of the
>redeemed in our prayers, and we must remember as well that our own
>government, which is complicit in much of that suffering, can come
>to resemble the anti-Christian regimes whose offenses are so
>capably cataloged in Shea's book.
>- William Norman Grigg
>The New American * May 26, 1997
>THE NEW AMERICAN - Copyright 1997
>American Opinion Publishing, Incorporated
>P.O. Box 8040, Appleton, WI 54913 - Homepage:
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>*   Liberty is NEVER an option ... only a condition to be lost!    *
>*   http://www.jbs.org                                             *
>*  Roger Cravens, SYSOP                                            *
>*  South East Signals Intelligence Group BBS: (770-) 942-1089      *
>*  Atlanta, GA                                                     *
>*  Signals Intelligence:  "... and the truth will set you free"!   *
>Charles L Hamilton  (chasm@insync.net)  Houston, TX
>-> Send "subscribe   snetnews " to majordomo@world.std.com
>->  Posted by: chasm@insync.net (Schuetzen)

Paul Andrew Mitchell                 : Counselor at Law, federal witness
B.A., Political Science, UCLA;  M.S., Public Administration, U.C. Irvine

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