This post is the first in a weekly series highlighting the fifty most dangerous countries in the world for Christians.
The constitution of North Korea guarantees religious liberty with these words:
“Citizens have freedom of religious beliefs. This right is granted by approving the construction of religious buildings and the holding of religious ceremonies. Religion must not be used as a pretext for drawing in foreign forces or for harming the State and social order.” These words are found in Article 68 of the constitution of North Korea.
When you read the words of the North Korean constitution that ostensibly protect religion, your first impression would naturally be to assume that all religions are treated well. Yet like all legal language in any country, the words are simply a cover for the ideas embodied in them.
When an American reads the words, “This right is granted by approving the construction of religious buildings and the holding of religious ceremonies,” an American mind believes that there must be church buildings and worship services within. If a tourist visits Pyongyang, he might actually see a few church buildings where there are occasional “worship” events. None of them have anything to do with Christianity despite their names. Christians in North Korea must worship in secret and hope government spies do not penetrate their secret churches.
The American mind must be advised to read the statement again. “This right is granted.” Governments do not grant human rights. The role of government is to protect rights granted to humans by God.
North Korea is the most dangerous nation on earth for a Christian.
If the US government ever attempts to instigate registration of church groups or church buildings, wise citizens will defeat such initiatives on sight, because that is a sure sign that government intends to suppress Christianity.
Christians in North Korea are persecuted because Christianity is considered a pretext for bringing in foreign ideas, and Christians are accused of being spies for foreign governments. It is not known how many Christians are imprisoned in North Korea, but the estimate is between 50,000 and 70,000. The population as a whole suffers from inadequate food and shelter. The little information available for the prisons indicates that conditions are deplorable and inhumane. Torture and starvation are common.
The guiding philosophy of North Korea is Juche. From the website of the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea, these words describe this philosophy:
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is guided in its activities by the Juche idea authored by President Kim Il Sung. The Juche idea means, in a nutshell, that the masters of the revolution and construction are the masses of the people and that they are also the motive force of the revolution and construction.
The Juche idea is based on the philosophical principle that man is the master of everything and decides everything. It is the man-centred world outlook and also a political philosophy to materialize the independence of the popular masses, namely, a philosophy which elucidates the theoretical basis of politics that leads the development of society along the right path.
The Government of the DPRK steadfastly maintains Juche in all realms of the revolution and construction.
The North Korean man-centered outlook is the most extreme development of secularism on the planet. This worldview is the reason that the government asserts its power to “grant” or withhold rights that derive from the Creator himself. North Korea’s government acknowledges nothing higher than itself. Its worldview is man-centered, and the man at the center of this worldview is Kim Jong-un. The “masses” may be the motive force behind revolution and construction, but the power in North Korea lies in one man: Kim Jong-un.
We pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ who suffer in North Korea. We pray to be alert to developments in our own nation that move in the same direction as the philosophy that dominates North Korea.
- For the 50,000-70,000 Christians imprisoned in labor camps; ask God to sustain them
- For the many Christians who don’t have enough food to survive and are forced to flee to China
- That Christians may stay strong in their faith under unrelenting pressure from government spies
For more information visit http://www.opendoors.org
By Katherine Harms, author of Oceans of Love available for Kindle at Amazon.com.
Image: By US CIA (The World Factbook) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons