Christian Worldview

Selling Out the Church

  I don’t usually get angry, but I confess that today I am. Powerful forces are conspiring in Washington to block efforts to help the persecuted church. Let me tell you what’s going on and what you can do. In May, the House of Representatives, by a bipartisan vote of 370 to 41, passed the Freedom from Religious Persecution Act. Sponsored by my good friend Frank Wolf, the act would impose mild sanctions on nations persecuting religious minorities. The bill was then sent to the Senate—and that is where the trouble begun. Sen. Don Nickles, the assistant Majority Leader, filed a companion bill, and we were hoping that we could pick up some of the best provisions of the Wolf bill, merge the two, and get the bill through the Senate and sent to the president. But then big money interests moved in. Two Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Rod Grams of Minnesota and Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, have expressed opposition to the bill. So committee chairman Jesse Helms, though a supporter, may not be able to get the bill out of the committee. It could be pigeonholed and die there. That would be a tragedy. We’re up against tough opposition. Businesses that trade with China, along with the Clinton administration, have had their sights on this legislation from the beginning. We’re talking about big campaign money from companies like Boeing and Caterpillar. And they aren’t limiting their lobbying to the Senate. Recently, a full-page ad featuring side-by-side photos of Billy Graham and the Dalai Lama appeared in the Washington Post. The ads urged Congress not to start a trade war with China. That’s fair enough. But Senators read this as a signal from religious leaders not to crack down on China’s persecution. A group called the Alliance of Christian Ministries in China–a very reputable group—signed the ad. But I have learned they didn’t pay for it, nor did Billy Graham authorize the use of his picture or name. Previous ads like this, according to the Post, have been paid for by a group called USA Engage, a coalition of big businesses. What the big businessmen are saying is religious persecution is no big deal. Try telling that to Chinese pastors thrown into prison, or Sudanese Christians whose children are sold into slavery, or Christians in Saudi Arabia whose parents are shot for their faith. America has long been a champion of human rights both at home and abroad. But if the Nickles bill fails, the message will be clear: American principles are for sale to the highest bidder. There’s only one way to stop this from happening. I’ve been meeting with congressional leaders and they tell me that they need to hear from constituents on this issue. I know you’re asked a lot to get involved in issues on the Hill, but we need you now more than ever before. You’ll be hearing from Jim Dobson, Gary Bauer, and others asking you to do what I’m asking you to do right now: light up the Capitol Hill switchboards like never before. Tell your senators that they must get behind the Nickles bill, along with key provisions included in the Wolf bill, and pass a bill that gets to the president’s desk fast. And then most important, pray. I can think of no greater indictment of this nation than if we were to turn our backs on the suffering church for the sake of corporate profits. God forbid that that happen.


Chuck Colson


  • Facebook Icon in Gold
  • Twitter Icon in Gold
  • LinkedIn Icon in Gold

Sign up for the Daily Commentary