It is often said that in polite company you shouldn't discuss religion and politics. In the online world, these topics seem to bring the armchair experts out of the woodwork. They are also a vivid reminder of why people should only express an opinion on an issue if they understand it properly.
Australian missionary John Short has been arrested in North Korea for distributing Christian literature. According to former Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, he may end up in prison, or deported.
Channel Ten's news and current affairs program The Project facilitated a Facebook discussion on this news. If any excuse was needed for some Christian bashing, various people made comments along the lines of "it serves him right," "why can't we put all Christians in prison," "religion causes war," and the like.
These statements could not go unchallenged, and I was glad to see them corrected.
I responded as follows:
What predictable responses from all you "progressive" minded people, aside from the typos and punctuation errors. North Korea is a Stalinist backwater and listed by several NGOs as one of the world's worst human rights violators. Kim Jong-un's regime spends billions on armaments while his people starve. There is no freedom of religion, and being a Christian will likely get you imprisoned or killed.
Immediately I thought back to the Western missionaries who were held
hostage in Afghanistan in 2001 by the Taliban on alleged charges on
proselytizing. Unlike John Short, it was eventually revealed that they were set up. Even so, I distinctly remember a newspaper letter to the editor writer who said that the missionaries knew the risks of what they were doing of trying to spread Christianity in a hostile country, and it was their own fault. There was not the least bit of sympathy for them.
Put another way, how many of these people are really aware of the real issue here, which is that North Korea is ruled by one of the most evil and oppressive regimes in the world today? Perhaps they'd like a guided tour of one North Korea's many prison camps, whose inmates include thousands of Christians? A United Nations report released this week by former High Court of Australia Justice Michael Kirby, who headed a UN commission of enquiry into North Korea, gives us a stark reminder of this situation. I hope and pray that one day things will change there.