By Erin Rodewald // November 20, 2018
(This blog post was originally written for and posted to 21Wilberforce)
The spectacles of Black Friday and Cyber Monday have infiltrated our cultural conscience. Thanksgiving, it seems, has become the starting block for the holiday buying season. Just hours after the last slice of pumpkin pie has been served, retailers begin offering deep discounts and shoppers start snatching up deals in a buying frenzy.
What if we changed the script this year and extended the spirit of Thanksgiving beyond our dining tables? Rather than getting deals, what if we set aside a day just for giving instead? That is the goal of #GivingTuesday, a global movement that harnesses the collective power of individuals, communities and organizations to encourage philanthropy and to recognize generosity worldwide. This year, 21Wilberforce has partnered with #GivingTuesday — which falls on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, November 27 — to give support to people worldwide who live under the threat of religious persecution.
The needs are great. Consider the plight of more than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims who fled Burma (also known as Myanmar) to escape death and destruction at the hands of government security forces. Today they remain in cramped refugee camps in Bangladesh, refusing to return home for fear of becoming victims of ongoing ethnic cleansing. In Nigeria, Fulani militants routinely attack Christian communities, killing and displacing residents, while Boko Haram terrorists continue their campaign of kidnapping and murder of Christians in the northeast.
In China, the government has detained as many as one million Uighur Muslims in “re-education camps” and uses sophisticated technology, including facial recognition and artificial intelligence, to track and control Uighur movements. China also has imposed a massive crackdown on Christianity, demolishing or closing hundreds of churches, arresting worshipers, and destroying thousands of public crosses.
Religious freedom violations remain grave in many other countries around the world as well, including North Korea, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Eritrea, and Russia. In its 2018 annual report, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) identified 28 nations in which governments or nonstate actors routinely target religious minorities for persecution. The most severe abuses reported include “genocide and other mass atrocities, killings, enslavement, rape, imprisonment, forced displacement, forced conversions, intimidation, harassment, property destruction, the marginalization of women, and bans on children participating in religious activities or education.”
Begin the holiday giving season by standing with embattled believers
21Wilberforce works year round to address the needs of those persecuted for their faith as we mobilize and equip partners, including mission organizations, youth organizations, churches and denominations, and religious freedom NGOs. On #GivingTuesday those efforts are magnified as collective attention and resources are poured into the mission. Together, we can begin the holiday giving season by standing with embattled believers to help them “Speak Freedom” and advance religious freedom globally.
On #GivingTuesday, join 21Wilberforce as we “Speak Freedom” on behalf of persecuted believers. Help us:
- Challenge unjust laws that repress religious freedom in countries around the world
- Advocate for the release of religious prisoners
- Provide practical training to persecuted groups and their leaders so they can defend their freedom of belief