Six years after launching a movement to attack religious persecution, a core group of political and Christian leaders on Wednesday issued a second "Statement of Conscience" that singles out Sudan and North Korea as the worst violators of human rights.

The torment "suffered by faith communities of Sudan and North Korea may be more brutal, more systematic, more deliberate, more implacable and more purely genocidal than those taking place anywhere in the world today," according to the statement supported by some 150 church, think-tank, and political leaders.

Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) told the thought-shapers, government officials and clergy, including a bishop from Sudan and a woman tortured in a North Korean labor camp, that since the first summit in 1996 concern for religious persecution has moved from a hotel conference hall to Capitol Hill.

"We ask people to pray," Brownback said. "It has to happen in the heavenlies before it can happen in the U.S. Congress."

The afternoon summit, sponsored by the National Association of Evangelicals and the Center for Religious Freedom of Freedom House, supports President Bush's characterization of Sudan as "monstrous" and his inclusion of North Korea in the "axis of evil."

It calls for the administration to press North Korea to allow more aid from nongovernmental organizations, as well as greater resources generally for reporting abuses in all problem countries. The statement also vowed "never to commit the sin of silence" in the face of abuses.

The gathering came amid a surprise offer by North Korea to reopen sensitive arms talks with U.S. officials. Former North Korean labor camp prisoner Lee Soon Ok offered an emotional prayer for Christians imprisoned because of their faith. "For they ...

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