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It’s Time for Media to Make Religious Persecution in China a Campaign Issue

There were so many important unasked questions in last night’s Democratic presidential primary debate. For example, would any of the candidates’ health plans require rationing? (Short answer, yes.)

But the glaring moderator and candidate failure in my book involved China. There was talk about the country in terms of climate change and trade. But no one on either side of the debate podiums raised the crucial issue of China’s brutal pogroms against religious minorities — Falun Gong, Uyghurs, and Christians.

What are we talking about?

  • It is well accepted now that Falun Gong political prisoners are tissue typed and murdered for their organs in China’s awful black market for transplants.
  • Uyghurs’ children are stolen from their parents and brought up in such a way as to erase their Muslim faith. More than a million have been rounded up and imprisoned in concentration camps, where they are subjected to murder, rape, slave labor, and torture. We know the camps exist because our satellites have taken the photos.
  • Christians are subjected to societal cancellation through the terrifying “social credit” system, where technology such as facial recognition and computer algorithms — some provided by American companies — can lead to excommunication of the “offender” and their children from society. The consequences of low social scores —  just going to church can lower them — can include job loss, inability to rent an apartment, or even the ability to use public transportation. It is one thing to tell a Christian father to chose between death and rejecting Christ. The Church has faced that kind of persecution since the beginning. It could be quite another to be told your children will have to live like Biblical lepers if you continue to follow your religion.

I am not excusing President Trump from this criticism. He has been so focused on his trade deals with the great tyranny that he has been loath to focus on China’s egregious abuse of fundamental human rights. But he has also pushed hard for religious freedom internationally, as in his recent speech at the UN, and secretary of state Mike Pompeo and ambassador for international religious freedom Sam Brownback have both spoken boldly (China is waging a “war with faith”) and with great clarity on this issue.

I know it’s tough because of our unwise financial reliance on China. But they rely on us too, and that provides leverage. If we fail to force our candidates to commit to the struggle, for all the talk of “Never Again” in the wake of the 75th anniversary of Auschwitz’s liberation, it will become clear that too many media types and politicians don’t care all that much about brutal persecution in our own day, at least when the consequence of resisting it could mean lower profits.

This is a test of our national idealism. Let’s not shrink from the challenge.

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