Our primary responsibility as Christians is to worship God and obey him. Obedience to God includes following biblical teaching to pray and worship with other Christians, and to speak to others about our faith. We are to remember those who are persecuted for their faith. "Remember me in my chains," pleads the apostle Paul in Colossians 4:18.
People are persecuted for religious beliefs and practices around the world, whether they are Buddhist, Muslim, Christian, Hindu or other. In today's world the largest group of people being persecuted for their faith are Christians. More than 200 million people in over 60 nations are being denied their basic human rights because of their Christian faith. The main reason for this persecution is the rapid growth of Christianity in countries where human rights are being violated or do not exist.
Use the hyperlinks at right to view country profiles, religious liberty alerts and other detailed resources.
Religious Liberty Commission
The EFC's Religious Liberty Commission (RLC) is comprised of Christians representative of the broad spectrum of the evangelical community in Canada who share a commitment to promoting freedom of religion, as defined by Articles 18‑20 of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights, for all worldwide. The RLC believes that religious liberty is a God‑ordained, fundamental and inalienable human right of every human being irrespective of colour, race, nationality or religion. The Commission monitors and responds to violations of religious freedom around the world, with priority given to Christians but also with concern for the rights of Jews, Muslims, Hindus and other faith groups. The Commission also sends out monthly prayer alerts, informing subscribers of current human rights sitations we are monitoring and encouraging the public to write to politicians in Canada or overseas about specific situations.
All international human rights documents protect religious freedom. Article 18 of the UN Universal Declaration on Human Rights, to which Canada is a signatory, states, "Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance."
Canada has a strong record on advocating for the protection of human rights internationally and often takes a leading role in the international arena. Although the Canadian government has made a public commitment to taking action on issues of religious persecution, it has taken limited action at this point.
Members of Parliament may express concern about religious persecution and ask for religious freedom to be respected through correspondence or during international visits. Many MPs and Senators have indicated their interest in monitoring religious persecution and acting on behalf of the persecuted.
See the Persecuted Church section of The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada website for more information and current issues of concern.
Office of Religious Freedom
The EFC released a statement on the closure of Canada's Office of Religious Freedom on 7 April 2016.
The World Evangelical
Alliance estimates that over 200 million Christians in more
than 60 countries currently face persecution because of their
What You Can Do
There are a number of ways you can respond to issues of the persecuted church. The most important is prayer. Some of our prayer alerts ask for specific action such as writing a letter to the Canadian, or a foreign government. It is always helpful to let the Canadian government know that you are concerned about religious persecution and wish our government to take action. You can do this by writing to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Honourable Lawrence Cannon. The mailing address is:
The Honourable John Baird
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Lester B. Pearson Building
125 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, ON K1A 0G2
The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada's Religious Liberty Commission wants to help church groups and individual Christians support the persecuted church around the world. We prepare regular Religous Liberty Alerts highlighting persecution in specific countries. These Alerts are sent by email and also posted to this website (approximately one per month).
You can receive Religious Liberty Alerts by email by sending a message with the word "subscribe" in the subject line to: firstname.lastname@example.org
The International Day of Prayer is marked every year to remind us of the call to hold up in prayer our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world who are being persecuted for their faith. Visit idop.ca for more information as well as further information regarding the religious liberty situation in various regions of the world.
We ask you to:
- pray for those being persecuted
- pray for the EFC's Religious Liberty Commission as we meet with Canadian government officials to ask them to take action on behalf of our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world.
- follow up urgent cases by contacting Canadian and/or foreign officials
- set up church-based groups that will heighten awareness of persecution, pray and coordinate appeals to officials
The late Glenn Penner, former Chair of the EFC’s Religious Liberty Commission and CEO of the Voice of Martyrs Canada, has written a series of articles about the persecuted church. These articles touch on themes in Penner's book In the Shadow of the Cross, and are valuable for anyone seeking to learn more about persecution. The links below open in a new window.
For more background on religious persecution, see the resources available from the World Evangelical Alliance's Religious Liberty Commission. The WEA RLC advocates on behalf of Christians at the UN level.
To learn how you and your church can participate in the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church see IDOP Canada.
The EFC Religious Liberty Commission has produced the following resources:
- EFC Religious Liberty Commission Alerts, updates on urgent situations of religious persecution. Includes recent EFC reports on India, Vietnam, and Egypt. Among the most recent (October 2009): Not What You See: A Report on the Religious Liberty Situation of Protestant Believers in Vietnam.
- Broken Promises: The Protestant Experience with Religious Freedom in China in Advance of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, a 27-page report released June 10, 2008. It identifies the general extent of persecution faced by the Protestant house churches. Free download.
- A Christian Defense of Religious Freedom, a background paper by the Religious Liberty Commission, 1996. Download free or order the print version for $5.00.
- Christians and Civil Disobedience, a paper that examines relevant biblical texts and encourages discussion. Produced by the Religious Liberty Commission, 2001. Download for free (or order the print version for $2.00).
- 2003 Foreign Policy Review: A Contribution to the Dialogue, a brief submitted as part of the Minister of Foreign Affairs' 2003 Dialogue on Foreign Policy.
- Canadian Advocates Pack - Vietnam 2004, a kit to assist you in writing to imprisoned Vietnamese Christians, their families, and to government authorities on their behalf. Includes addresses. Download free.
Visit the EFC library to check for other resources related to international religious freedom.