21 nations in the world have laws that make it illegal to change religion. In 20 of these nations Islam is the majority religion. The penalty for apostasy varies from fining to death.
The vast majority of nations that have criminalized blasphemy and change of religions are located in North-Africa and the Middle East. According to Pew Research Center 14 of 20 nations (70 per cent) in this region have laws against blasphemy. 12 of 20 nations (60 per cent) have made it illegal to change faith. In the whole world 22 per cent of all nations ban blasphemy whereas 11 per cent prohibit change of religion.
– Most of the nations that ban change of religion have signed the The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The declaration underlines how everyone should have freedom of thought, conscience and religion. Article 18 also emphasizes that everyone should have the right to change religion or faith. It is important to create an international, political pressure against leaders in nations that ban change of religion. They should respect the declaration they have signed and give their people freedom of thought, conscience and faith, says Steinar Opheim. He is the managing director of the Norway-based resource center for tentmaking named Tent.
Both Global Opportunities and Tent have experienced that authorities, business leaders and other employers in nations that persecute Christians, have a desire to recruit Christian personnel.
– These are great opportunities that God has given us. Unfortunately, it is many times hard to find people who are willing to go. It is sad to get information about so many good job openings in these nations, and then be unable to recruit someone who could go as a professional and at the same time be an ambassador for God´s kingdom in a place where Christ is unknown, says Opheim.
He underscores that the people who take such jobs do nothing illegal.
¬– Most tentmakers share about their faith with friends in private settings. As soon as you leave the Western world, discussions about faith are a normal part of the daily conversations and such talks are not prohibited, says Opheim.
A survey done by Pew Research Center in January last year shows how religious persecution currently is increasing around the world. The social oppression from family, friends and the wider society grows the most.
Visit Pew Research Center (http://www.pewresearch.org/) to read more about blasphemy and bans on changing faith.
Photo by Istockphoto used with permission.