The World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty Commission officially launched the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church in 1996 and designated the first Sunday in November for the church calendar (subsequently the second Sunday was added). Many USA organizations (including the National Association of Evangelicals and the Institute on Religion and Democracy), also began a large promotion, though there were over 100 countries who participated in IDOP that first year.
Godfrey Yogarajah, WEA’s Ambassador for Religious Freedom, recently said, “The IDOP is a time set apart to remember all those who share our faith, but not our freedom. “WEA has prepared free International Day of Prayer (IDOP) resources designed to help you effectively pray for the persecuted. Click here to access IDOP resources in English, Spanish, French, Russian and Portuguese.
21Wilberforce Research Project Aims to Increase Effectiveness in UN FoRB Advocacy
21Wilberforce is partnering with the University of Stirling on an innovative research project that will equip human rights advocacy groups with insights and proven pathways to successfully advance religious freedom through the United Nations’ Universal Periodic Review (UPR).
The UN UPR process provides an opportunity for all UN Member States, sometimes in collaboration with human rights groups, to make recommendations for other countries to improve their human rights policies. Individual countries are scheduled for review every four and a half years and after the review they are expected to implement recommendations for human rights improvements. Read more here.
Global Defenders Network Launch Spearheaded by 21Wilberforce
21Wilberforce is spearheading a launch called The Global Defenders Network (GDN) in response to the growing need to provide legal representation and defend victims of unjust laws that violate everyone’s basic human right to freedom of religion or belief (FoRB). GDN is an association of individuals, organizations, and networks that will work collaboratively on individual member and group initiatives. It is hoped that, over time, this network’s activities will help reform the laws and judicial systems that have led to these violations.
The GDN seeks to incubate, accelerate and replicate innovative training for lawyers, paralegals and law students in multiple countries, with each country’s program reflecting its unique conditions. To that end, GDN will partner with local leaders who know these conditions. GDN will work with and provide training to both men and women: women are an important project focus as they often suffer from lack of representation and face barriers professionally, including in the legal profession. Read more here.
‘The interrogator made fun of my words and even the color of my skin’
Sahar Dashti experienced racism as a child as one of very few dark-skinned children in her city, so she was hesitant when after becoming a Christian she was asked to help with the Sunday school. And when, instead of racism, Sahar experienced love and acceptance from the children, the impact was significant.
But when Sahar and her friends were arrested for their Christian activities, Sahar’s interrogator told her she faced a heavier sentence because she had worked in the Sunday school or, as he put it, had been “misleading children” by teaching them about Christianity. Read more here.
Meet André Simão, 21Wilberforce Latin America Ambassador
Two years ago, 21Wilberforce entered into a strategic partnership with the Baptist World Alliance and one of the key goals was to develop a mobilization and support program to equip faith communities to engage in protecting religious freedom and defending the persecuted. Central to this program are regional representative 21Wilberforce Ambassadors that work with churches, organizations and individuals to help identify and meet needs of churches and members facing religious restrictions or persecution.
Over the coming months we will highlight one of our Ambassadors and the impact they are making in their region. Meet 21Wilberforce Latin Ambassador André Simão. Read more here.
OTHER USEFUL LINKS
Two Christians imprisoned in Iran for their church leadership roles were released a few days after a fire broke out in Tehran’s Evin Prison on Oct. 15, but rights advocates were mystified about why they were freed. Read more here.
USCIRF Spotlight Podcast: Civil Society’s Important Role in Promoting Freedom of Religion or Belief. Greg Mitchell, Co-Chair of the IRF Roundtable, joins Elizabeth Cassidy, Director of Research and Policy at USCIRF, to assess the U.S. government’s efforts to promote freedom of religion or belief abroad over the past 24 years, and to discuss the IRF Roundtable’s establishment and civil society advocacy. Listen here.