Anniversaries are so commonplace in Washington, D.C., that an event seldom gets remembered five or ten years later, unless it made a vivid mark on the national memory. The tragedy of 9/11, of course, is a leading example.

But the year 2006 also marked the passing of a decade of highly significant events involving American perceptions of religious freedom worldwide. In January 1996, the National Association of Evangelicals convened Christian leaders in Washington to focus fresh attention on the plight of suffering brothers and sisters around the world. The stories they heard were not new—persecution of Christians in countries from China to Saudi Arabia, from Pakistan to North Korea.

What was different about the original 1996 meeting was that it had been sparked not by an evangelical, but by a Jew, Michael Horowitz, whose knowledge of Christian persecution came from an Ethiopian refugee living in his house.

Horowitz is an exceptional organizer and, as a former official in the Reagan administration, the possessor of a thick Washington Rolodex. He could not be discounted as just another fundamentalist bleating away about Christian things. The January meeting, moreover, was not a one-off event. In April 1996, congressmen Frank Wolf, R-Va., and Chris Smith, R-N.J., wrote to the Clinton White House and asked why it had backed off on commitments to appoint a special adviser on religious freedom.

People started taking notice, and the movement gathered steam. That fall, there occurred what is now an annual event firmly established on church calendars throughout the U.S. and the world: the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP). IDOP has recruited thousands of American churches to participate in events drawing ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Global Prognosis
David Aikman is professor of history and writer-in-residence at Patrick Henry College and wrote for Time magazine from 1971 to 1994. Among his books are Jesus in Beijing and A Man of Faith: The Spiritual Journey of George W. Bush. His column, "Global Prognosis," ran from 2006 to 2007.
Previous Global Prognosis Columns:
Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
Read These Next
Also in this Issue
Shedding Light on The Dark Tower Subscriber Access Only
A C.S. Lewis mystery is solved.
RecommendedTrump’s Religious Liberty Order Doesn’t Answer Most Evangelicals’ Prayers
Trump’s Religious Liberty Order Doesn’t Answer Most Evangelicals’ Prayers
Prayer breakfast pledge to ‘totally destroy’ Johnson Amendment comes up shy; conscience exemptions from LGBT anti-discrimination rules missing.
TrendingThe Theology Beneath the Trump-Comey Conflict
The Theology Beneath the Trump-Comey Conflict
How the former FBI director’s interest in Reinhold Niebuhr shaped his approach to political power.
Editor's PickThe Greatest Threat to the Church Isn’t Islam—It’s Us
The Greatest Threat to the Church Isn’t Islam—It’s Us
A leading Nigerian theologian believes the real danger to Christianity in Africa is in the church.
Christianity Today
Compassionate Bedfellow
hide thisFebruary February

In the Magazine

February 2007

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.