ADHRRF – On February 15, 2018, a seminar with the theme of “Religious Liberty as a Global Problem” was convened at the University Club of USC (the University of Southern California). The event aimed to further mutual understanding between different religious groups and promote freedom of religion. In attendance were well-known religion experts, religious studies professors, as well as delegates of various religious groups from countries such as the USA, Italy, France, and Mexico, totaling over 20 participants. Christians from The Church of Almighty God were also invited.
The seminar commenced at 2 p.m. local time and discussed issues of religious persecution that exist in certain countries. The protection of the human rights of Christians from The Church of Almighty God (CAG) became a focal point at the seminar, and some delegates from other groups expressed concern over the facts of their persecution by the Chinese government.
In the seminar, one CAG Christian revealed the tactics of monitoring, tracking, arrest and sentencing, and brutal torture used in China to persecute Chinese Christians. She also recounted her own true story of being forced to flee the country.
Another Christian discussed the Chinese government’s despicable tactics of oppressing The Church of Almighty God, even overseas. In recent years, the CCP has continued to dispatch secret agents and spies to other countries to stir up trouble and defame the Church. It has applied pressure to some other governments using economic or diplomatic means to hinder the applications for asylum of these Christians. For example: Out of several hundred Christians who have applied for refugee status in South Korea, not a single one has been approved; over 100 Christians in Europe have received departure orders and are facing deportation back to China. The situation is grave. The CCP has also found out the identities of Christians from performers in The Church of Almighty God’s films and videos, and has used this to threaten and interrogate their families in China.
Experts such as the French religious professor Bernadette Rigal-Cellard expressed that hearing the accounts of these two Christians from The Church of Almighty God gave them a greater understanding of the actual facts of the Chinese government’s persecution of the Christians of the Church. Some delegates from other religious groups took the initiative to request materials on the Church and offered to include relevant materials and videos on their websites in the hope that more people would show concern for the human rights situation of the CAG Christians.
During the seminar, Professor Massimo Introvigne, an Italian sociologist and the director of the Center for Studies on New Religions (CESNUR), along with Ms. Rosita Šorytė, the chairperson of International Observatory of Religious Liberty of Refugees (ORLIR), called on various sectors of society to show concern for the persecution of CAG Christians and the status of their asylum applications abroad. Ms. Rosita Šorytė stressed that their human rights and freedom of religious belief should be guaranteed. Efforts for freedom of religion must be implemented, and all sectors in society must work together to promote this freedom.
In addition, attendees also discussed the freedom of religion in Central Europe, Eastern Europe, and Mexico as well as the rejection of religious refugees’ appeals in those countries. Other delegates all discussed and spoke on the violation of the religious rights and interests suffered by their own group.
After four hours, the seminar came to a successful conclusion, and all the delegates expressed the need for more interchanges and communication between different religious groups, and the necessity of strong joint efforts for the sake of freedom of religion.