In-group bias is very real. It is the basis for tribalism, and is seen when we express a preference for those who are in the same group as ourselves over others, and it can be a dangerous facet of human nature.
Religious groups have always run the risk of facing in-group bias when roaming outside their own familiar communities, and Christians are no exception.
Today, while Christians in the West face a rather mild form of in-group bias in the form of Christian holidays falling out of favor with left-leaning institutions, Christians in parts of the Far East face persecution on a scale and severity comparable to ancient times. Of course, Christians in the Middle East, China, Africa, and occasionally in India have faced severe persecution, in recent times there may be no worse place for Christianity than North Korea.
Experts are saying that Christians in North Korea may be facing a level of persecution that is on par with the reign of Emperor Nero in ancient Rome. Last week, the major human rights organization International Christian Concern met with leaders in Washington to describe the plight of Christians under Kim Jong-Un’s regime. They urged lawmakers to lend their support to a piece of legislation that would renew the authorization for the North Korean Human Act of 2004.
Senators Ted Cruz and James Lankford and Representatives Ed Royce and Chris Smith joined the conference to urge policymakers to take a stand against the serious human rights abuses of the North Korean government, which has very nearly wiped out the Christian population in that country.
The executive director of the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea Greg Scarlatoiu addressed the committee saying, “As the tragedy of Korean separation continues after almost seven decades, we remember that the northern half of the Korean Peninsula was once of a cradle of the Korean Presbyterian Church in the region.”
Scarlatoiu explained that in 1946, the Provisional People’s Committee for North Korea condemned and shuttered churches that did not have the right number of people as prescribed by the law. This was only the beginning.
He continued, “Before the Communist takeover, the capital city Pyongyang was known as the ‘Jerusalem of the East. Christianity was once a way of life in North Korea.”
Soon after the Soviet-backed takeover, certain types of religions were forbidden entirely, beginning with Catholicism and Protestantism. The Communist party forbid Christian activities and made Sunday a mandatory day of work.
Forcing Christians to violate the Sabbath was a powerful strategy for making them stand out, or at least getting them to essentially abandon the practice of their faith. Those who would not obey would be easily spotted, and those who did would lose face with their communities.
“Under the pretext that the sound of religious songs disturbed public life,” Scarlatoiu went on. “The same committee asked churches to relocate. Communist Party agitators were inserted into Christian communities and church assemblies. They began criticizing the sermons as unprogressive.”
In 1962, North Korean leader Kim Il-sung told his security agency, “We cannot move toward a common society with religious people.”
In the year 1948, 25% of the population of North Korea was religious. Today, the ICC’s research shows that the number has dropped to less than 1%.
Throughout the 20th century, communism has killed hundreds of millions of people. They kill those who resist the collectivist form of government. They kill those who usher in the communist government after it seizes control – their own “useful idiots” who are too destructive and revolutionary to be left alone after the coup d’etat is complete. And they remove people of faith.
Christians are a primary target for communist regimes, but they are not alone. People who naturally resist tyranny, those who believe in the right of an individual to their own property and liberty are pushed out or slaughtered. Buddhists have also been a major target for communist regimes as the religion places a premium on independent thought.
But few religious faiths are as diametrically opposed to communist ideology as Christianity. You can see it in the Ten Commandments; the dictates to refrain from killing, stealing, bearing false witness, and above all- to love and obey God before all else. These values are totally incompatible with communism.
The Marxist philosophy demands faith in the beloved leader or the state. It demands obedience above all else. It proscribes the redistribution of personal property – which is theft. Above all, it is opposed to the central philosophical theme of the Christian way of thinking – that the individual contains the divine spark given from the breath of God, and must be respected.
~ 1776 Christian