Unless concerned Christians, Jews, and Muslims act to change the laws and prevailing attitudes in Islamic and Communist countries, the 21st century will become a tragic repeat of the 20th.
This article is a call to action for those who care about their fellow human beings. Even if you are an atheist or agnostic, you will surely realize that the persecution of Christians abroad is not just a religious issue, but a human rights issue as well.
In Pakistan, Christians are put on trial for blasphemy, and death sentences are handed down by courts that practice Shariah, or Islamic, law. In such courts a Christian's word isn't accorded the same credibility as a Muslim male's, and a woman's word is hardly counted at all.
Specifically, this article is a call to action to help one persecuted in one particular country: Pakistan.
As Pakistan teeters on the brink of religious chaos, the Rev. Parvez Masih sits in a jail cell the size of a hallway closet. This schoolmaster has been imprisoned since April of 2001, when he was arrested for violating Section 295c of Pakistani law: "insulting the Prophet." Rev. Masih's jailers do let him out of his cell from time to time, so they can kick and beat him in their attempts to force him to renounce Christianity and accept Islam. He steadfastly refuses to convert, however, his alleged offense is breaking one of Pakistan's blasphemy laws, which have been used to brutally oppress that country's Christian minority. If a Muslim finds himself in a property dispute or business rivalry with a Christian, all he has to bring the accusation of blasphemy and his Christian rival is either hauled off to jail or torn apart by a Muslim mob. Such laws are also used by Islamic clerics to keep the local Muslim population in line.
The circumstances of Rev. Masih's arrest are not as important as the fact that a person can be arrested for blasphemy in the 21st century-in a country that is a nuclear power. Suffice it to say that he was accused by a Muslim cleric who was also operating a school in Pakistan's Sialkot District, and Rev. Masih's had surpassed this cleric's school in enrollments.
Not only are the blasphemy laws used to drive Christians out of business, they provide a "final solution" for dealing with those pesky Christians: the only penalty provided by Pakistani law for "insulting the Prophet" is death.
Unless Rev. Masih is acquitted or his release ordered by the President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan, he will be executed. Two factors militate against Rev. Masih getting a fair trial: the radical Muslims in Sialkot have threatened to kill any lawyer representing him, and a Muslim cleric's word counts for more than a Christian pastor's in a Pakistani court.
President Musharraf has the power to free Rev. Masih, but he faces opposition from the radical Islamic clerics in his country if he does so. Therefore, President Musharraf has to be convinced that the reasons for releasing Rev. Masih override those for letting him rot in jail or turning him over to an anti-Christian mob.
Your letters to President Musharraf and to your Congressional representative will help decide whether this brave Christian pastor will live or become another martyr to the faith.
Please write to President Musharraf and tell him that while we appreciate his help in the war on terror, our two countries cannot be true allies and friends as long as Pakistan has blasphemy laws on the books and executes Christians. And write to your Congressional representatives and tell them that you want pressure put on the government of Pakistan to release Rev. Masih and to repeal its blasphemy laws. Be sure to tell President Musharraf and your Congressional representatives that Pakistan's persecution of Christians and its blasphemy laws are in direct contravention of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted by the member states of the United Nations in 1949. This Declaration recognizes the rights of all human beings to choose their religion and to practice it freely.
You may write to President Musharraf by addressing your letters to President's House, Islamabad, Pakistan. The addresses of your senators may be found at
http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm, and addresses for Congressional representatives be found at http://www.house.gov/writerep/
This appeal is brought to you by the Scottish Knights Templar, an 884-year-old non-Masonic Christian Order with its headquarters in Scotland. The Scottish Knights Templar has priories, or chapters, in the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States, Lebanon, Pakistan, and New Zealand, and is affiliated with similar Knights Templar organizations in France, Germany, Italy, Austria, Croatia, Australia, and Russia. The two principal aims of this organization are to help the disadvantaged and to defend the persecuted church.
The Scottish Knights Templar have taken St. Paul's admonition in Hebrews 13:3 to heart: "Remember those who are in prison, as if you were in prison with them, and remember those who are tortured, as if you were being tortured with them."
Please write those letters today to save the life of Rev. Masih and to make it possible for Christians and others in Pakistan to worship freely!
For more information, please contact the Scottish Knights Templar at
James R. Reese
Knight Grand Officer
Grand Prior of the United States
Priory of the Holy Angels
Scottish Knights Templar
Autonomous Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem