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IRD Advises Church Officials: Take a Walk

"NCC delegations go all the way to Pyongyang to watch the Democratic People's Republic of Korea perform dog and pony shows for gullible Westerners. Surely, they can walk two or three blocks on Capitol Hill for the events of North Korea Freedom Week, to see what was hidden from them by the North Korean government."--Faith J. H. McDonnell, Director, Religious Liberty Programs

 

Contact: Loralei Coyle, 202-682-4131, 202-905-6852 cell, lcoyle@ird-renew.org; Radio Interviews: Jeff Walton, jwalton@ird-renew.org; both with The Institute on Religion and Democracy

 

WASHINGTON, April 24 /Christian Newswire/ -- The third annual North Korea Freedom Week is taking place in Washington, DC, and around the world this week. Events sponsored by the North Korea Freedom Coalition, of which the IRD is a member, run through Saturday, April 28. The North Korea Genocide Exhibit includes paintings of emaciated, ragged figures, and mementoes such as items of clothing retrieved from drowned refugees. It transports us to a world that is almost inconceivable. But it is particularly a reproach to church leaders who close their eyes to North Korea's egregious human rights abuses. The ribbon-cutting ceremony for the exhibit took place Tuesday, April 24, at Ebenezer's Coffee House on Capitol Hill--less than half a mile from the Methodist Building where many mainline denominations have their lobby offices.

 

IRD Religious Liberty Programs Director Faith J. H. McDonnell commented:

 

"This is just the right time for church members and church officials to discover the truth about North Korea. I especially recommend that they visit the genocide exhibit, an extensive display of artwork and memorabilia documenting the full gamut of human rights abuses by the Kim Jong-Il regime.

 

"The National Council of Churches (NCC), and even some evangelical groups, have criticized the United States for putting pressure on this Stalinist regime. But they rarely speak of North Korea's persecution of Christians and its sweeping oppression. We need to end the innocent ignorance of most church members about North Korea. At the same time, we need to disabuse some church leaders of their more willful ignorance.

 

"In November 2003, the NCC and Church World Service sponsored a trip to North Korea. The North Koreans arranged for the delegation to visit a church in the Nangnang district of Pyongyang, but kept it away from the thousands of Christians and other political prisoners in the regime's prison camps. The church officials had no real criticism for the lack of religious freedom, or for government-sponsored starvation, only for U.S. 'aggression' and escalation of 'war rhetoric.'

 

"NCC delegations go all the way to Pyongyang to watch the Democratic People's Republic of Korea perform dog and pony shows for gullible Westerners. Surely, they can walk two or three blocks on Capitol Hill for the events of North Korea Freedom Week, to see what was hidden from them by the North Korean government."