This transcript is taken from a Stand in the Gap Today program originally aired on April 19, 2022. To listen to the program, please click HERE.
Sam Rohrer: Well, as Russia intensifies its attack on Ukraine, so do the other threats of war increase. Have you noticed? China threatens Taiwan again, in a new way. Iran, just yesterday, threatened Israel. The King of Jordan, also yesterday, threatened to tear up the peace treaty that Jordan has had with the Israel prompted by disputes over the Temple Mount. Well, the US continues to threaten Russia. Russia threatens the US. North Korea threatens the entire world. But then, the globalists, the World Economic Forum and the central bankers threaten national sovereignty and individual freedom worldwide. Threats and intimidations and literal war are spreading worse, almost, than any virus. And with these threats come hardship and great pain, as we see in Ukraine at this very moment. Yet, like a raging wind-swept forest fire, there is literal pain, suffering, and agony, and death that is impacting million upon millions of people, 24 hours a day, and literally nothing is being reported.
And, by their screaming silence, governmental leaders at all levels around the world, and by their cynical silence, so many religious leaders around the world, suppress those screams of the tormented and literally by their silence and sinister policies enable the rape, and torture, and death of countless millions. Now, who are these who are suffering and dying with literally no civil, and few religious authorities actually coming to their end? Well, they’re primarily Christians in countries who shamelessly kill and torture those will not bow the knee to their atheist, Islamist, Hindu ,or other religious ideologies. And overshadowed by other headline news, the persecution of primarily Christians, not limited to only, but primarily Christians around the world is literally setting historically bad records. And the world sits idly by, like the churches did in Germany when the trains rolled down the tracks to Auschwitz. And to cover the noise, they just sang louder and ignored the screams.
So, today on Stand in the Gap Today, I thought it was time to update you, our listeners, on a reality of life that is being ignored, but one that we cannot ignore. My title for today’s program is this, Wake Up America: Worldwide Persecution and Death Increasing and Advancing. My special guest is Dede Laugesen, Executive Director of Save the Persecuted Christians, with a website at savethepersecutedchristians.org, and I’ll give that again in the balance of the program.
Now, in June 25th of 2020, Dede was with me and Dave Kistler here on Stand in the Gap Today. Our theme then was the Chinese Communist Party leading the way to persecution and death. And, today, we’ll update on China and its role in persecution. We’ll discuss persecution past and present, persecution perpetrators, identify the worst countries for persecution, we’ll discuss persecution and its political enablers, an update on the role of our past and present US presidents and their relationship to persecution policies. And then, we’ll conclude in segment four with persecution and its prognosis. How fast is it growing? And should we consider the potential of persecution here in America?
Well, all this and more today here on Stand in the Gap Today, and I and co-host Gary Dull, we’ll talk with Dede Laugesen, Executive Director of Save the Persecuted Christians in just a moment. Now, I want to tell you about our Ukraine initiative and 10 Men Project. I’m going to say nothing about that right now, other than the first segment of the program tomorrow, I’m going to have one of our original 10 Men teams of the first team will be with me tomorrow in the first segment, and we’ll devote the entire segment to his response and his involvement of being there on the ground in Ukraine. So, you don’t want to miss that.
With that, let me welcome back to the program right now, Dede Laugesen. Dede, thanks for being back with us.
Dede Laugesen: Hi, Pastor. It’s so good to be here. Happy Easter.
Sam Rohrer: Happy Easter.
Dede Laugesen: Thank you for having me on for this very important conversation.
Sam Rohrer: Well, I am glad that you are in the midst of this focus, because it is so important. And there’s so much we want get in today, but for right now, help us establish a foundation. Give us a perspective, an overview, if you mind, from maybe the statistical aspect of it, of persecution past and present. Put that in perspective for us.
Dede Laugesen: Sure. So, Save the Persecuted Christians as a coalition of organizations and human rights advocates who have come together to join our voices in one so that we can help elevate the stories of persecuted Christians around the world. We started in 2018. At that point in time, Open Doors USA, which has the preeminent report each year on the persecution of Christians worldwide in its World Watch List. In 2018, they reported 215 million Christians were experiencing heavy persecution every day of their life. They wake up not knowing if they will survive. That was 215 million Christians in 50 countries around the world. This year, Open Doors came out with their report, 360 million Christians now suffer this heavy persecution. Their lives are at extreme risk. That is a 67% increase in just four years, Pastor.
Gary Dull: Dede, It’s a delight to have you with us today. And thank you for being back on the program. And this whole concept of religious persecution is something that most of us, particularly those of us who know the Lord Jesus as our personal savior, are very concerned about. In fact, I just spoke on it several weeks ago here at the church where I serve. But, religious persecution, it’s sense is very broad. But we’re talking a lot today, and want to talk a lot today, about the persecution of Christians. Can you make a comparison between religious persecution in general and Christian persecution specifically for our audience please?
Dede Laugesen: Well, there are over a half billion people persecuted for their faith in the world. The vast majority of those are Christians. Muslims, also, are persecuted their own brothers and sisters in the world, but you do not see Christians raising their hands against others. Unfortunately, the story of Christian persecution is suppressed and marginalized. Even the stories of persecution of Christians is discriminated against in the world.
Sam Rohrer: And, Dede, boy, that takes us right up here. Ladies and gentlemen, when we come back in the next segment, we’re going to go in now to this further area of these nations, the nations who are the worst perpetrators. Dede’s going to announce that, and we’ll talk a little bit about what that persecution actually looks like in these various countries. Segment three, we’ll talk about persecution and the political enablers. We’ll talk about our own American leadership, presidents past, current, and what their involvement is. And then, we’ll conclude in the end by talking about, could we see persecution coming here to our shores here in the United States? Important program, stay with, we’ll be right back.
Well, our theme today is this, Wake up America: Worldwide Persecution and Death Increasing and Advancing. Our special guest today, Dede Laugesen. She is the Executive Director of Save the Persecuted Christians, a group that started in 2018. Their website, savethepersecutedchristians.org, and it’s an entity upon which I’ve appreciated being a part in a small advisory part. But the importance of this is really important. Christian persecution around the world.
If you’re just tuning in, Dede just said, 2018, 215 million Christians actively engaged in persecution, subjects of persecution, in 50 countries, to 2022, 67% increase, now 360 million Christians. That’s staggering, isn’t it? When I look at persecution, throughout scripture, I go there first of all, as we do on this program. But, throughout scripture, the incidence of persecution, often harsh and cruel, we know is not only recorded in scripture, but it’s prophesied. Important for us to keep all of this in perspective. And Jesus’ sermon on the mount is an example, Matthew 5:10-12, these words that you would hear, you’d find familiar. The Lord said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’s sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven. For so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
And Jesus reminded his disciples in Matthew 24, and elsewhere, that accompanying the end times, deception wars, threats of wars, plagues, and famines. There would be an increase also of truth usurpers, false prophets. And, with that, would arise persecution actually led by civil authorities. Matthew chapter 10:16-19, just a couple parts of those verses, Jesus says, and again, in part, “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. So, beware of men for they will delivery you over to the courts, and flog you in their synagogues or religious buildings. And you will be dragged before governors and Kings for my sake.”
So, Dede, the verse I just read predicts governments, and top government officials, will lead either to the direct persecution of Christians, or at least enable the persecution. So, in this segment, which I’ve entitled Persecution Perpetrators, I’d like for you to identify the lead nations who are directly promoting persecution. And if you can, can you start with the worst of the worst, to the least worst, if that makes sense?
Dede Laugesen: Absolutely. For the 360 million Christians persecuted around the world, that’s more than one Christian for every man, woman, and child in the United States. The top areas of persecution are Afghanistan, North Korea, Somalia, Libya, Yemen, Eritrea, Nigeria, Pakistan, Iran, and India. And, at number 11, Saudi Arabia.
These countries are guilty of allowing extreme persecution in their country, whether it be supported by the state, which in most of these countries, it is, or by non-state actors, for instance, in Nigeria, allowing terrorism to run rampant. These, are the nations where Christians are under very heavy duress. China comes in at number 17, but a lot of the reason for that is because reporting coming out of China is so very hard to receive. And, they persecute in a different way, which we’ll talk about a little later.
In the Western hemisphere, we have Colombia, Cuba, and Mexico. Many people are surprised to find that Mexico hits the list, but it has to do with the lawlessness there.
Gary Dull: It’s interesting, Dede, that you mentioned those names, and, of course, [inaudible 00:12:12] with those countries. And I like to follow that a lot through the voice of the martyrs and other sources that are out there. And, we realize that there are people simply who hate the Lord Jesus Christ, and that is, of course, what motivates them. But, other than the clear conclusion that all of these nations that you have identified care very little about human life, and as I said, they generally have rejected the Lord Jesus Christ, what would you say it is that really drives these nations to persecute people the way they do?
Dede Laugesen: In North Korea, and in China, you have communist states. They are seeking control and power over their citizens. They are atheists. And they cannot have anything competing with adoration and worship of the state. So, people there are seriously suppressed with regards to any form of religious worship. All forms of worship of are suppressed and heavily persecuted against. But, for Christians, it’s a daily task for them to remain hidden, and to stay safe.
For the rest of those on the top 10 list, the driver of persecution is Sharia supremacism. These are states that are Islamic republics, and they allow their adherence to Sharia to drive their persecution of other faiths, and specifically of Christians. So, it’s the Islamists, the radical agenda of Sharia is the driving factor for the majority of the countries on the list for Open Doors. And that is what we see is that, at the same time as we are called Islamophobics for speaking out about the persecution of Christians around the world, it is obvious and apparent that that driving ideology behind it is Islam.
Sam Rohrer: It’s interesting, I’m listening to you, and, again, we’ve talked about it here on the program. We’ll talk more about it, but worldviews, we’re talking about a worldview, a worldview that starts with God as creator, and then comes down through that. Judeo-Christian, we would refer to, as a general sense. But then, you’re talking about atheism, communism, and you’re talking about Islamism.
Okay, both of those are religions. People may not think of it that way, but they are religions. Yes, Islam, but so is atheism, a religion. Now, let me ask you this question in this segment. We’re talking about nations at this point, the worst perpetrators, and you gave an identification of them. But, in this unusual silence, why aren’t other nations, nations maybe like our own, or some European nations, but nations, or governmental entities at least at that point, that have a platform to communicate, [inaudible 00:15:22] why are they so silent? Obviously, it’s a communist country complaining about persecution in North Korea or China. They’re going to do that, but where’s the rest of the world? The non-Islamic, the non-communist world. Where is the world on this?
Dede Laugesen: Well, the world is truly being cowed into silence, because we are uncomfortable talking about the persecution. Because, at this point in time, with the coalescing of Islamophobia, and concerns about being seen as Islamophobic, or the globalist multi-faith, interfaith, ecumeninism, all of that has congealed together to create a political atmosphere in which it is not politically correct to speak about the persecution of Christians. It’s not the comfortable narrative, and to point out that Christians are persecuted, in large part because of the ideology of Sharia supremacism, then it is an uncomfortable conversation to have.
And, you see in the UN Human Rights Council, at least six of the 15 countries that are sitting on that Council are on this list as persecutors. So, when you have the very persecutors sitting on the Council that is supposed to defend the UN Human Rights Declaration globally, and yet they are sitting on that Council defending their own interest and their worldview, as you say, of human rights, it becomes very muddied. China sits on the Human Rights Council. Cuba, Nepal, and Pakistan. Pakistan is one of the most dangerous places in the world for a Christian to reside. These are the countries that are supposed to be defending human rights, and yet they are the perpetrators of the very violence that we are speaking about today.
Sam Rohrer: Ladies and gentlemen, when you hear Dede Laugesen explain that, I imagine what goes through your mind, the same thing it goes through my mind is, you have the foxes in charge of the henhouse. So, when you have actual government officials in heads of nations that forsake their obligation under God to enact justice, well, what then happens? You have the heads of government actually become the perpetrators of evil. And that is the basis of persecution. When we come back, I’m going to talk with Dede about looking back to US presidents and policy, and bring it up to the current, and what their involvement has been in this area.
Well, welcome back to Stand in the Gap Today. This is midpoint in the program. Again, just joining us, our special guest is Dede Laugesen, Executive Director of Save the Persecuted Christians, with a website at savethepersecutedchristians.org.
It’s been said that silence in the face of evil is evil itself. To not speak against that which is wrong is literally to enable that which is wrong. And, to not resist the devil is, in effect, to submit to the devil. Now, in God’s plan, God has ordained all authority, as is recorded in Romans 13:1, there God’s plan, civil authority is given the sword, as the Bible uses the word. That’s the authority, the ability to use [inaudible 00:19:15] God’s plan to enact justice, as defined by God himself. Which means, he says in that passage, to praise those who do righteously, to protect those who do right, and to punish, bring to justice, those who do evil, according to the definition established by God, not them. Now, that’s God’s plan. And when this is done, then Bible says that the people can rejoice, and freedom will exist. But, when God’s plan is rejected, the people will mourn, and slavery and misery will result. We just passed Easter, right? Pilate himself went answer to God for permitting the crucifixion of Jesus.
But, so will the religious leaders of that day. And, so will all political and religious leaders throughout time, give an account to God for their direct involvement in justice. If they do, injustice and persecution results, they will give an account. But, so will all leaders who, by their silence, become complicit, and therefore enablers of persecution, and injustice, and death.
So Dede, let’s come a little closer to home now. You gave the overall perspective, you identified the nations that are of the worst offenders, and there’s a long list of them. You gave 11 of them, I believe. But, let’s look at the role of the United States. Because, I had to ask you that question, that last segment, why aren’t other nations of the world, and national leaders, speaking out and doing something? And, you said, well, even in the United Nations, the Human Rights group that should have that positioned are dominated by the persecutors. The fox is literally in the henhouse. The perpetrators are the ones watching.
So, that would explain that. But, the United States has been, historically, the leader of the free world. We know we’ve got real trouble in these days, but, if you don’t mind, on this matter of persecution, go back a little bit. I don’t care whether you start with George W. Bush, or start with Barack Obama, but bring us up to date. Might help to put this in perspective what those respective administrations did in relationship to Christian persecution, or persecution of Christians.
Dede Laugesen: Well, if you don’t mind, I’ll step back just a little bit further to the administration of President Bill Clinton, who, in 1998, after many years of members of our coalition working hard to get the International Religious Freedom Act established and passed, President Bill Clinton signed that into law. It created, for the department of state, the Office of International Religious Freedom. It also set up an independent commission, the United States International Religious Freedom Commission. And, these are commissioners who are appointed by Congress and by the President to serve three year terms. And, they report and advocate on who the state department should designate as countries of particular concern, or countries that should be placed on the special watch list. And, that means that those countries are open for sanctioning because they allow the persecution for religious minorities within their bounds.
Following on that, George W. Bush, as we all know, was strained with the attacks of 9-11. But, before that, even then, he was building up relationships with Muslim entities, specifically the Muslim Brotherhood. The Muslim Brotherhood, before the Arab Spring, they were building their strength internationally, and forming relationships, and setting up front groups in nations around the world, and specifically in the United States. And so, with 9-11 you saw almost an overcompensation to ensure that the world saw that America, which is an exceptional nation from its beginning, it was a Christian nation that said our rights derive from God, our creator, we have the freedom of religion, and assembly, and speech.
But, when we came to the Obama administration, Obama took what George Bush did in elevating the cause of Muslims in the United States for also religious freedom. Which, of course, if one group can’t have religious freedom, the rest will all suffer. So, we hold to those values in America, but at the same point in time with Barack Obama, when he came in, he developed deep relationships with the Muslim Brotherhood. They foment terrorism around the world, and have ties to Hezbollah, and Iran, and others who seek the subversion of other religions, and, most specifically, Christianity, and the destruction of the United States.
So, during the Obama administration, you saw a lot of discrimination against Christian beliefs and values here in the United States, and an elevation of Islamic ideologies, and a protection of them. And, even in infiltration into US agencies of the Muslim Brotherhood, which many organizations have long sought to have designated as a terrorist group. They’re very active in the United States, and they received a lot of protection under the Obama administration.
When Donald Trump came on board, he was amazing. He said that the very first right that we have is that to religious freedom, that it is the first right from which all other freedoms flow forth from. And, he even elevated religious freedom to a national security priority. Because, when there’s persecution out there in the world that is running rampant, it is coming our way. And, with the United States being the world’s defender, we find that we are constantly having to extend ourselves into countries that allow for this kind of persecution, or drive it themselves. So, Donald Trump was really a hero for the religious freedom advocates in the United States. He was accessible. Ambassador Sam Brownback was a true leader in this regard, in so many ways, elevating, again, the fact that Christians were being persecuted. You even saw president Trump go to the United Nations General Assembly and speak specifically about Christian persecution, which had not been done before at the UN General Assembly.
Now, unfortunately, under the Biden administration, all those good gains that were made under the Trump administration have, essentially, been wiped away. President Biden has turned his focus from religious freedom, that is hardly ever talked about by the Biden administration, and instead to some defense of democracy is what President Biden wants to promote in the world. But, with regards to religious freedom, the designation to the countries of particular concern has been politicized. We’ve seen this most specifically and recently with Nigeria. We worked very hard to get Nigeria put onto the countries of particular concern list, and were successful in doing that with Secretary State Pompeo. But, unfortunately, in December, just prior to a trip to Nigeria, Secretary Blinken, it was a surprise to everybody, took Nigeria off the countries of particular concern.
And now, we’ve heard just this last week, that the US is preparing to sell a billion dollars worth of weaponry into Nigeria. Nigeria is the next Afghanistan. This is where you see a rise of incredible jihadism that is responsible, even just this year, so far, the deaths of 3000-some Christians. They’re being driven off their lands, and out of their communities. They’re being taken over by Islamists, and the government there, under President Buhari, is doing absolutely nothing. And, in fact, really providing them the area in which to grow and foment their violence against Christians.
Sam Rohrer: So, Dede, what a history. We didn’t want to interrupt you. You gave a tremendous overview. And, ladies and gentlemen, you understand the trouble? We had a reprieve, more or less, on this issue anyways, during the Trump administration. Truly a major change. And, what happened? But now, as Dede said, those gains are all wiped away. And now, this administration is actually prepared to send and give billions of military aid to Nigeria, one of the most egregious persecutors of Christians anywhere in the world. Isn’t it amazing how things can change? Well, when we come back, we’re going to talk about, now, this persecution, where’s it going? Unchanged, will it come here to America?
Our special guest Dede Laugesen, who is Executive Director of Save the Persecuted Christians, and that website, if you want to go there, lots of information there, savethepersecutedchristians.org.
As she stated earlier on the program, the incidence of persecution across the world is literally unprecedented. Historically, in both the terms of frequency, and the sheer numbers of people. Now, as she said, in a comparison to 2018, when, according to Open Doors at that point, 215 million Christians around the world were actively under the heel of persecution. That number now, in 2022, is 360 million Christians. That’s a 67% increase. Can you imagine 360 million people? That’s bigger than all the population of the United States. Can you imagine if this entire nation was actively being engaged in government sponsored, or government allowed persecution, that was resulting in all kinds of persecution? Not just saying bad things about people, but putting people into human trafficking, killing them, burning them, as they have. And I’ve seen so many pictures of burned Christians, just corpses, lying their on the ground, burned entire houses there in Nigeria. And, nothing happens. Taking young girls away, and making them slaves to other men in Islamic countries. They do that regularly. Can you imagine that?
Dede, the question is this. The result is that, at a time when the need is greatest, those willing to come to the aid of those in need seem to be the most scarce. As persecution has been increasing, it seems that the silence accompanying it has also increased. So, what should we expect? Should we expect that we, in the United States and the Western world, will remain free from persecution when so much of the rest of the world is not? And, if we say we will remain free, then why? And, if not, then why not?
Dede, I want you to do some summary here. We’ve looked at the historical aspect of the persecution, past and present. You did that in this first segment. We considered perpetrators [inaudible 00:31:48] persecution, these nations, these worst of the worst. And then, the political enablers. You gave a history of why, and what’s happened in the United States itself, our past presidents, with exceptional Donald Trump, really, who actually have cultivated alliances with Islamic persecutors, going all the way back to the Bush days. And now, enhanced under Barack Obama, and maybe even put on steroids under the Biden administration.
I’d like your expert opinion now, as we go into the prognosis here of persecution in the days and years ahead. If nothing is done, what will we see happen, on a general sense? And then, Gary, if you want to take it here to what’s going to happen in the United States. Generally speaking, where are we going?
Dede Laugesen: Generally, where we’re going is into hell. I’m telling you. We have Neo-Marxist globalist multiculturalists who are pushing a Godless agenda of no faith, of sectarianism, the secularization of society. That it would be better to wipe the world free of religious relief, it would just be easier. These all idolize the China model, control over population, a dumbing down of faith, or knowledge of God. These are the threats that we face, and it is certainly here among us now.
Gary Dull: Okay. Let’s get a little bit more specific with that, then, Dede, if you don’t mind. And, the question that I want to ask you, I’d like for a direct answer, and that is this. While the United States has been protected from some types of persecution that we see around the world, is there any reason why we should expect, particularly from a human perspective, to remain free from persecution here if something is not done soon?
Dede Laugesen: Absolutely not. All Christians will suffer. They will be placed upon the cross in some way in their lives. The division that we’re seeing here in the United States, and especially the marginalization and the discrimination against Christians and conservative Christian values has never before come under fire like it is here in the United States now. To be a Christian in the United States is challenging in the public square. And, more and more, we’re seeing a drive to push Christians out of the public square to quiet our voices. We cannot do so, we cannot be quieted. It is the challenge of our times to embrace our faith, and to speak loudly and boldly. And, if we do not, we will be persecuted.
It all starts with marginalization, discrimination, and then, finally, big hand comes down, and you find yourself being persecuted in ways we couldn’t imagine. They are currently making lists of Christians who oppose the vaccine mandates, or oppose the COVID restrictions that we came under when our churches were closed. These lists are being made by government agencies. You’re seeing a purging of the military of Christians who oppose critical race theory, or the gay rights agenda. You’re seeing Christians being purged, both from the corporate world, and also in the public sector.
Sam Rohrer: And, Dede, you answered Gary’s question. Gary, I want you to close this program in prayer, but ladies and gentlemen, we’re sharing this. This is not sensationalism. What Dede says, she is in this space, tracking this around the world. And we ended up talking about us here in the United States, because, you see, if the United States ceases to be a purveyor and protector of that which is good, can you see what happens to the entire world? And all that she said is true. She didn’t make this up. They are taking names. They are identifying those on all of the things that she just talked about.
So, the question is, ladies and gentlemen, are you already standing for truth? Or, have you been backing off? The only way to resist that which is evil is to pursue that which is good. And only those who know the truth can do that. So, it’s a challenge before our listeners.
Gary, some final thoughts from you. And then, if you could close this program in prayer, because we really do need God’s help.
Gary Dull: Well, we know that the word of God says that those who live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. So, for those of us who know the Lord, it’s important to become grounded in the Word of God, so that when persecution comes our way, we will be able to stand strong by the spirit of God.
Father, we just pray that for each and every one of us, we realize that standing up for you sometimes does bring persecution, particularly when we see that what’s taking place in the world around us violates biblical truth. And so, Lord, I just pray that you’ll give each and every one of us who have that relationship with you through Jesus Christ, the determination to stand for truth at all times.
And I pray to, Dear Lord, that you will give us wisdom and strength in the face of persecution, that we might even, through that, be able to bring glory to your name. And, Father, I do also pray for the persecuted Christian around the world, the underground church. Wherever they may be, and whatever they are facing right now, may they sense your presence, and your power, your provision in their lives. And we’ll be careful to give you the praise and the Thanksgiving for all in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Sam Rohrer: Amen. Thank you, Gary. Dede Laugesen, from savethepersecutedchristians.org, thank you so much for being with us. Wow. A hard topic to talk about, but so important, ladies and gentlemen, that we do. May God bless you, Dede, and all that you are doing. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for being with us. Take this program to heart. Share it with your friends and your family. They need to hear this. We need to be engaged in prayer. And then, as we say, pursuing the truth, and then standing in the gap for truth.