The end of innocents: A murdered chilid found on a Rio de Janeiro beach, likely the victim of “death squads.”

Despite communism’s decline, torture and persecution continue.

Talk of human rightes can make you either shudder or yawn. On the one hand, news of human-rights violations seldom leaves us unmoved. It is hard to hear of torture, unjust imprisonment, or religious persecution without an involuntary wince—or a prayer.

On theother hand, discussion of human-rights theory may seem like a passionless exercise best left to political pundits. Its connection to our daily lives or the imperatives of the gosple is not always obvious.

But we must combine the visceral with the thoughtful. We need to become both compassionate and knowledgeable.

The conventional wisdom is that conservative Christians should not be concerned about human rights because human rights isan agenda item of the political Left. But a little research shows that human rights are violated by governments both Left and Right, and that one of the most frequent violations concern religious liberties.

Consider these unsettling facts:

• More people have been killed for their faith in Christ in the twentieth century than in the previous nineteen. This is according to statistician David Barrett.

• Despite the breakup of the Soviet bloc, worldwide human-rights violations continue there and elsewhere. In 1990, according to Amnesty International (AI), some 80 countries held prisoners of conscience—jailed solely for the peaceful exercise of their basic human rights. AI reported torture or ill treatment of prisoners in over 100 countries; disappearances or secret detentions in more than 25.

• Children are not immune to the violence. The British group Jubilee Campaign reports that ...

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