Evangelical Christian opposition to the brutal dictatorship in North Korea appears to have reached critical mass. Exhibit A is the passage of the North Korea Human Rights Act in October (see "Nightmares and Miracles," p. 29). The act raises the profile of human rights in all negotiations with the dictatorship and strengthens humanitarian assistance as well.
Michael Horowitz, senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, said a church-based coalition, working with politicians and several Jewish groups, made an "extraordinary difference in moving matters forward." At a critical juncture, a coalition led by the National Association of Evangelicals sent a letter to key Democratic Party leaders—including Joseph Biden, Tom Daschle, and John Kerry—urging Senate passage.
"There was a readiness on the part of evangelical groups to go to churches throughout critical [voting] states showing films of gulags and gas chambers," Horowitz said. "You'd better be sure that that played a role in the ultimate willingness of members of the Senate to negotiate."
Horowitz lauded the Korean Church Coalition, which held its inaugural conference during the last week of September, while the Senate debated the bill. The KCC released a statement on Christian responsibility in the crisis, with sections addressed to governments, the people of North Korea, and churches in South Korea. The KCC also held a 40-day prayer vigil before the conference. Acting director Philip Song said the KCC has a volunteer director in each of its 77 regions. So far, about 1,700 of the 2,000 member churches are in California.
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Stan Guthrie interviewed Michael Horowitz following the passage of the bill.
Weblog also commented on the bill.
The North Korean Human Rights Act of 2004 is available from the Library of Congress.
Other Christianity Today articles on North Korea include:
A Heartless Homeland | Why more North Koreans than ever are fleeing their country. (Oct. 06, 2004)
The Nightmare of North Korea | One man's story of brutality, courage, love, and freedom. (Oct. 05, 2004)
Criminal Faith | Going nuclear, North Korea allows worship only of its dictator. (July 08, 2003)
Helping Refugees Run Roadblocks | No nation wants North Koreans, but Christians rally to their cause. (March 17, 2003)
Fleeing North Korea | Christians among the thousands making their way to China. (Oct. 7, 2002)
Persecution Summit Takes Aim at Sudan, North Korea | Christian leaders issue second "Statement of Conscience." (May 2, 2002)
South Koreans Help Neighbors (Aug. 9, 1999)
Famine Toll Exceeds 1 Million (Oct. 5, 1998)
Editorial: North Korea's Hidden Famine | The poor and the weak should not have to starve due to the policies of their government. (May 19, 1997)
Evangelicals Plead for Korean Aid (April 7, 1997)
Bearing the Cross focused on North Korea in 2001.
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