Afghan Christians Facing Persecution

( [email protected] ) Sep 14, 2004 11:35 PM EDT

It was recently reported that Taliban terrorists had slit the throat of Maulawi Assadullah, a man accused of “propagating Christianity” in the remote Awdand province. The U.S. State department has not confirmed the June 30 death but there is still great cause for concern for religious freedom in Afghanistan.

Though the U.S. removed the Taliban totalitarian regime from power in November 2001, Christians are still facing difficulties with the new government. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) called the new government a “Taliban-lite” regime.

Nina Shea, vice chair of USCIRF noted, “The constitution was adopted without individual religious freedom. There is a provision in there that no law can contradict Islam. Blasphemy is a serious crime enforced by the state.”

For Afghan Christians, living in the countryside “is absolutely unsafe,” said Mark Morris, pastor for missions at Germantown Baptist Church in Germantown , Tennesee. After visiting Afghanistan for 10 days in late April and early May, he says “If family members find out that you’re Christian, they will force you to leave the faith or kill you.”

On the other hand, non-Afghan Christians are treated much better, except in the southern and eastern parts of the country. Morris says that they “are received well. The Afghan people are so open and readily converse about religious matters. They love to talk about God. It’s very natural to discuss religious values.” Based on this, Morris recommended that foreign Christians move to Afghanistan to serve as teachers, administrators, relief and medical workers.

Norm Nelson a radio broadcaster from Lancaster, California spent two weeks in Afghanistan and said, “the problem is that the government is not in charge of the country, except for Kabul,” (the capital) “It’s controlled by warlords and there are warlords who are definitely anti-Christian.”

Nina Shea of the USCIRF adds that Christians traveling there take a “big risk. If for some reason they are pulled over and their case goes to court, their testimony does not weigh nearly [as much as] that of an Islamic man.”

Nelso said that Christians should preach “through actions and attitudes. … I do it by saying I am a follower of Jesus. I don’t use the word Christian. … But Jesus is a very attractive and compelling person to them.”