Good News and Bad News

It was a classic case of good news/bad news. A few weeks ago BreakPoint received a call from a high State Department official informing us that a news item we had broadcast was in error. That, of course, is bad news. But the BreakPoint error itself would not have been enough to prompt a call from the State Department. It turns out that so many BreakPoint listeners, inspired by our broadcast, contacted the State Department that the Department felt forced to do something. And that is part of some very good news, because there are signs the State Department is getting serious about religious persecution. I believe they are doing so, in large part, because of the visibility that Christians have given this issue and because of the pressure, frankly that we've put on Congress. The broadcast that sparked the response was based on a story in the London Telegraph that Egypt's Coptic Christians had been viciously attacked by Muslim militants. The newspaper said police stood by or even participated as men, women, and children were beaten and tortured. That part of the report was accurate. But the London Telegraph went on to say that Christians were raped and crucified. And on this score the London Telegraph was wrong—and so was our broadcast. The State Department official who called BreakPoint was Bob Seiple, the former president of World Vision and a good friend of mine. Bob is currently the State Department's special representative for religious persecution. He's been nominated to be ambassador at large, the position that was created by the Freedom from Religious Persecution Act. This act got through the Congress in the last days of the session largely as a result of great pressure from Christians and many BreakPoint listeners. Seiple told us that the State Department was already pressuring the Egyptians over human rights abuses, and that he had recently met personally with our ambassador to Egypt to be sure the problem of Christian persecution was understood by our officials. And the State Department also sent a representative to Egypt to investigate first hand, which is an encouraging sign. But what encourages me most is that when Seiple is confirmed as ambassador at large, he can get tough on these cases. He has the pressure of the Congress and the Christian community to back him up. He's already given signs he'll use his new position well. He has just returned from China where, according to the press reports, he pressured the Chinese government hard, insisting on more freedoms for persecuted people of faith, both Tibetan Buddhists and Christians. All around the globe believers are being persecuted today. But the good news is that when BreakPoint listeners and other Christians take a stand for the suffering Church, we can and do make a difference. Just look at the fact that now there's an ambassador to pursue these kinds of cases around the world. We will continue to speak out on these issues whenever persecution is taking place. The Christian church has a duty to be the conscience of our nation, particularly as it deals with the suffering of people of faith overseas. You ought to know that when we do this, when we show our solidarity with our brothers and sisters, our voices are being heard in Washington, and action is being taken. There aren't all that many great stories coming out of Washington these days, but I'm happy to report that here, in the cause of religious liberty, there is finally some good news.


Chuck Colson



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