Date: July 1, 2019
Complicated US-Saudi Arabia relations impact persecuted Christians
Saudi Arabia (MNN) — If the United States and Saudi Arabia had a Facebook relationship, the status would be “it’s complicated.”
On the one hand, the U.S. enjoys friendly trade with Saudi Arabia, though it’s not a significant part of the American economy.
Also, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently visited Saudi Arabia to strengthen national alliances in light of tensions with Iran. During his visit, Pompeo allegedly did not address the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
On the other hand, the U.S. previously imposed sanctions on 17 Saudi officials for Khashoggi’s murder.
The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom also designated Saudi Arabia a “Country of Particular Concern” in its 2018 Report on International Religious Freedom — the 15th year in a row the kingdom has earned this notorious label. However, Pompeo waived the sanctions that should have accompanied Saudi Arabia’s CPC stamp.
Dr. David Curry, President and CEO of Open Doors USA, says designating Saudi Arabia as a CPC is a start, but not the end goal.
“I think they need to be harder on the religious rights issues in Saudi Arabia. I know they’ve been talking about it, but I think that conversation needs to be a lot more public and front-and-center because the freedom for women and the freedom for Christians and other religious minorities in Saudi Arabia is minimal — or non-existent in the sense of Christian faith.”
Saudi Arabia’s official religion is Islam. The Quran is the law of the land and the kingdom’s legal system is largely based on sharia law. There is no freedom of religion. Worshipping outside the Muslim faith or converting carries steep penalties.
According to Open Doors’ World Watch List, Saudi Arabia is the 15th worst persecutor of Christians in the world.
“The State Department gets briefed on the World Watch List; they know of it certainly. Ambassador Brownback is very familiar with it and others and Secretary Pompeo,” Curry says.
“There [are] 50 countries where there’s very significant persecution of Christians…. There [are] about 250 million Christians that live under severe persecution right now.”
Pray for Saudi Christians who are living their faith in secret. Ask the Lord to bless and comfort them as they walk in His truth. Pray for lonely believers in Saudi Arabia to connect with other believers and find spiritual encouragement.
Curry says you can also advocate for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Saudi Arabia.
“We have to get really educated as Americans — but also particularly for Christians who are here in the West — about what’s happening to Christians around the world and wake up to it. Let our voice be heard, be thoughtful, prayerful, and [approach] our view of the world and these individual countries with a very sober mindset.”