Save the Persecuted Christians Remained Committed to Its Vital Mission in 2019
STPC Continues to Strive to Hold Persecutors Accountable and Increase Awareness Among Americans Who Are Unaware of the Atrocities Being Committed Against Believers in Jesus
December 23, 2019
WASHINGTON—This past year, the vital mission of Save the Persecuted Christians (STPC), which advocates on behalf of hundreds of millions of Christians facing heavy persecution worldwide, was more crucial than ever.
STPC fills a unique and urgent need, said Executive Director Dede Laugesen: To educate Americans on the growing persecution of Christians in a record number of countries worldwide, and to complement and enhance the work of others seeking to relieve their suffering.
“We do so in a systemic way,” she said, “by striving to hold the perpetrators accountable and by creating real costs to them for their crimes against humanity.”
The trans-denomination, non-partisan organization is blessed to represent and empower coalition members that include nearly 200 non-governmental organizations and faith groups.
“They have come together in partnership in recognition of the increasing need to arouse Americans who are mostly unaware of the atrocities being committed against Christian believers,” Laugesen added. “Such ignorance is primarily due to the all-too-widespread silence and callous indifference of many Western leaders and media organizations to the magnitude of the crisis now being experienced by Christians around the world.”
Save the Persecuted Christians is becoming a consequential, necessary and powerful, national grassroots movement. Thousands of Americans have joined STPC in giving voice in both domestic and international government and media to those who are brutalized simply because they follow Jesus.
Laugesen noted that more than 80% of the world’s population live in countries where religious freedoms are restricted. And of those being persecuted for their faith globally, 80% are Christians. Other statistics further illuminate the gravity of the problem: According to Aid to the Church in Need, an STPC coalition partner, an estimated 327 million Christians are persecuted for their faith—roughly equal to the number of men, women and children currently living in the United States. Another STPC partner, Open Doors USA, estimates that at least 245 million Christians are being heavily persecuted—subject to rape, torture, enslavement, banishment and murder, sometimes on a genocidal scale.
“On average, 11 people are killed every day because they follow Christ,” Laugesen said. “Most importantly, the trend is moving in the wrong direction. Open Doors USA has concluded that there are 30 million more Christians being heavily persecuted this year than in 2018. Clearly, much more must be done.”
Specific areas of impact for Save the Persecuted Christians in 2019 included the following:
- Over 1,000 churches and synagogues have adopted STPC’s “SaveUs” banner to associate themselves publicly with the cause and to engage congregants and passers-by.
- Since its founding, Save the Persecuted Christians has become a valued and trusted resource for the Trump administration and members of Congress, establishing relationships with key executive branch officials, including Vice President Mike Pence and his staff, key figures on the National Security Council, the White House Public Liaison Office and the U.S. Department of State’s Office of International Religious Freedom, led by U.S. Ambassador Sam Brownback. STPC has also collaborated with members of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), led by Chairman Tony Perkins.
- This year, in response to a request from Brownback, STPC launched a news aggregator, ChristianPersecutionNews.com, to serve as a resource for tracking the plight of the world’s Christians. In 2020, this valued tool will also link human rights reports and designations with country-specific news stories to better track anti-Christian persecution globally.
- On behalf of the 100 million beleaguered Christians of Nigeria and the Lake Chad region, STPC focused on authoritatively challenging the official Nigerian and State Department narrative of what is happening there and securing U.S. engagement to help attenuate this crisis. With the guidance of former Congressman Frank Wolf, a founding member and leader of STPC and the author of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, the organization:
- Worked with Nigerian coalition partners of STPC to bring a Nigeria Crisis Delegation to the U.S. to provide first-hand testimony about anti-Christian persecution in their homeland and in neighboring countries. This delegation included the mother of Leah Sharibu, a 14-year-old schoolgirl kidnapped in February 2018 and held by the jihadists of Boko Haram as a “slave for life” simply for refusing to renounce her faith in Jesus.
- Engineered a series of public and media events to share these personal accounts of persecution. For instance, Leah’s mother, Rebecca, and members of the Christian Adara chiefdom brutalized in multiple attacks in early 2019, testified on Capitol Hill about genocide in Nigeria.
- Met with top administration staff in Washington, D.C., after which Vice President Pence summoned his Nigerian counterpart to the White House to answer to the Crisis Delegation’s allegations of rampant, religiously motivated insecurity, kidnappings and killings committed with impunity and, it seems, with the support of Nigeria’s federal and state governments.
- In October, STPC, in coordination with Wolf and coalition partner, the International Committee on Nigeria (ICON), sponsored a visit to Washington, D.C., by former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo. The Christian leader forcefully endorsed the imperative need for a U.S. Special Envoy for Nigeria and the Lake Chad region. Future trips by Nigerian Christian leaders to the U.S. are planned to advance this initiative.
- Over 400,000 people have viewed STPC’s moving and heartbreaking exhibit, “The People of the Cross,” which has been shown at the Kansas, Minnesota and Massachusetts state capitols, megachurches and other houses of worship and conventions, as well as at both the 2018 and 2019 Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom. Internationally, government of Hungary, an exemplary leader and partner in the fight to protect followers of Jesus, showcased “The People of the Cross” at the November International Conference on Christian Persecution in Budapest, attended by Laugesen, STPC President and CEO Frank Gaffney and several other coalition partners.
- In July, STPC leaders again attended the second annual Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom and partnered with coalition members to host three side events to: 1) expose the ongoing genocide of Christians in Nigeria; 2) draw attention to the terror-tactic used to degrade and demean women with the premier of the new STPC exhibit, “Warfare on Women;” and 3) host a viewing of the documentary, “Christians in the Mirror.”
- In September, the Hungarian and Brazilian Foreign Ministers honored the STPC initiative during the United Nations General Assembly meetings by affording Gaffney to make the only intervention by a non-governmental organization during an event to highlight worldwide Christian persecution that also included foreign ministers from the Philippines and the United Kingdom, as well as U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Robert Destro and other senior diplomats.
- Finally, in a months-long, enterprising effort to intensify pressure on the persecutors, Save the Persecuted Christians launched a campaign last spring to hold those who enable such criminals accountable. In May, STPC sponsored a multi-faith letter to Squire Patton Boggs (SPB), a prominent U.S.-based law firm that lobbies on behalf of state-sponsors of anti-Christian persecution like China, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Cameroon and the Palestinian Authority. The coalition called for SPB and other lobbying operations to “Stop Persecuting Believers” by representing and otherwise legitimating and empowering those responsible for crimes against people of faith. When SPB ignored the appeal, STPC organized publicized visits to 15 of its offices around the country, accompanied in a number of cases by rallies designed to call attention to the fact that this firm and others like it are taking what amounts to “blood money” from persecutors to lobby on their behalf. STPC followed up by sponsoring an October petition to President Donald Trump, his cabinet and members of Congress not to meet with such lobbyists as long as they represent persecuting regimes.
With so much of the world’s Christian population being attacked, imprisoned and/or exiled for their beliefs, the need has never been greater for the sort of grassroots campaign STPC’s SaveUs Movement is working to foster. Its efforts are modeled after a miraculously successful one that helped free another population suffering from heavy persecution—Soviet Jews—by penalizing those in the Kremlin responsible for such repression. Through this movement, Save the Persecuted Christians endeavors to provide American policymakers with the popular support they need to effect real change worldwide and alleviate systemically the suffering being experienced by so many of those following Christ.
To interview a Save the Persecuted Christians representative, contact Media@HamiltonStrategies.com, Patrick Benner, 610.584.1096, ext. 104, or Deborah Hamilton, ext. 102.