To illustrate the impact on people's daily lives, we offer two examples
from Austria. A woman who is one of Jehovah's Witnesses applied for an
apartment in a village. The mayor of that village has a say on such
decisions. At a meeting with the mayor, both parties came to an oral
agreement. Upon departing the mayor asked in passing: "You do not belong
to a sect, do you?" The woman said: "I am one of Jehovah's Witnesses." The
mayor did not say anything, but was visibly shocked. Later the Witness was
told that the apartment had to be given to someone else.
At times, when seeking work, a trial period or preliminary tests are
required for all applicants. The results of such trial periods have often
been very positive for applicants who are Jehovah's Witnesses. Employers
have advised them that they are very pleased with their work. However,
when employers learn afterwards that the applicant is one of Jehovah's
Witnesses, all interest in hiring them is dropped.
Most employers have only expressed their reluctance verbally, but one
letter explicitly stated: "We thank you for your application but we are
sorry to have to tell you that based on our long experience we do not
employ persons belonging to any kind of sect."
DIFFERENTIAL TREATMENT IN SWEDEN
The work of Jehovah's Witnesses began in Sweden in 1886. This year over
36,700 joined together in the annual celebration of the Memorial of
Sweden just instituted an arrangement for registering religions, thus
ending the existence of one official State religion. We are pleased to
report that on March 13, 2000, the government registered Jehovah's
Witnesses as a religious community. However, Sweden's labor and tax laws
evidently make no exceptions for members of religious orders or other
religious workers. Because of a lack of any acknowledgment of
"volunteerism" even based on religious devotion, the Swedish government is
in effect dictating how much time and energy one can devote to godly
endeavors within the context of a monastic arrangement. In fact, other
religions in Sweden no longer have volunteers, but have to rely on an
employed staff under central collective agreements with labor unions. For
Jehovah's Witnesses, volunteering our time and energy to promote true
worship is the whole- souled sacrifice that we desire to make to God.
In most nations Jehovah's Witnesses have a national office that
coordinates, under the direction of the Governing Body in New York, the
religious activities of adherents in that land. Those serving in these
offices belong to a religious order and provide their services free of
charge. This inures to the benefit of Jehovah's Witnesses worldwide by
keeping the cost of our religious endeavors to a minimum. Instead of
recognizing the monastic nature of our office in Sweden, the authorities
there are obligating each member of that office to pay a tax on any
service he or she receives from others who also serve there. Labors of
love, such as cooking, cleaning, or doing the laundry, contribute to a
family environment and expedite efforts of others to translate and
distribute our religious literature, and organize the worship of Jehovah's
Witnesses throughout Sweden. These helpful endeavors are being assessed at
the current "market value," that is, what it would cost to commercially
obtain such services. Thus, they have become prohibitively expensive to
those benefiting from those services, although no one is being paid. For
example, a volunteer member of our religious order in Sweden receives
approximately $100 to reimburse him for personal expenses incurred during
the month. The tax imposed adds up to $937, almost 10 times the cash
income that he receives.
By requiring a tax for volunteer efforts--anything perceived as a personal
service--the government has equated the self-sacrificing,
religiously-motivated lifestyle of members of the coordinating office of
Jehovah's Witnesses in Sweden with wealthy individuals who pay for such
services. As a result of this attempt to secularize the religious
activities of what takes place at our office in Sweden, we may have to
drastically reduce the number of volunteers who serve there.
Keeping this situation in mind, you may recall a Biblical event involving
Jesus and Mary, the sister of Lazarus. Matthew, Mark and John all record
the event, which took place not long before Jesus died. The account at
Mark 14:3-8 states, in part: "A woman came with an alabaster case of
perfumed oil, genuine nard, very expensive. Breaking open the alabaster
case she began to pour it upon his head." Many of Jesus' followers
objected to this act of kindness because of the cost of the gift. Jesus
reprimanded them saying, "Let her alone. She did a fine deed toward me.
She did what she could." The account estimates that Mary's gift of
personal service cost 300 denarii, which was the equivalent of a year's
wages.xiii If Mary had attempted to render such a service today, Sweden
would require Jesus to pay a tax of 10 times the value of the gift for
Mary's personal service, i.e., 3,000 denarii in cash. Mary would have been
precluded from rendering the service to Jesus and our Lord would have been
precluded from accepting it. What Jesus called "a fine deed" would never
have taken place. This well illustrates the dilemma facing our religious
order in Sweden.
Unhappily, this situation is not limited to Sweden, but is becoming more
frequent throughout Western Europe.
A case in point is a graduate of our missionary training school who has
been serving voluntarily in Sweden since 1961. She has devoted her life to
her religious work. She has acquired decades of experience as a translator
of Bible literature. Now she has been forced to reduce the amount of time
she formerly devoted to translation to cook her own meals, care for her
own laundry, and clean her own room because she cannot afford the
prohibitive tax that would be imposed if others were to care for those
needs, as is routinely done in other branch offices of Jehovah's Witnesses
throughout the world. In another case, a skilled worker had to decline
participation in a renovation project of a house of worship. He wanted to
donate his time, all costs involved with travel, and use of his tools to
the project, but decided he could not afford to pay the high daily tax for
the simple meals that would be prepared and served for free by members of
The concept of legally legitimizing religious discrimination is fraught
with problems, legally and morally. Yet that is what happens, when nations
adopt a multi-tiered system of religious recognition. International
agreements/xiv have attempted to eliminate discrimination due to religious
belief, but as we have seen, it still goes on. A new and worrisome trend
in Europe is the refusal to recognize the religious nature of activities
performed by volunteers. European labor and tax authorities are
arbitrarily imposing an "employer/employee" relationship to the religious
activities engaged in by those of Jehovah's Witnesses who are privileged
to become members of the Order of Special Full-Time Servants, as our
international religious order is known. Interestingly, the Supreme
Administrative Court of Brazil ruled that members of our religious order
in that land are not subject to taxes imposed on employees since the
activities involved were religiously motivated rather than of a pecuniary
nature.xv Are governments, who laud religious freedom and human fights on
the one hand, acting consequentially when they limit "religious
activities" to what they narrowly and arbitrarily define as "worship"?
What is the solution?
Personally, I am eagerly awaiting the fulfillment of the promise contained
here in the Bible, in Isaiah 32:16 through 18, which says: "And in the
wilderness justice will certainly reside, and in the orchard righteousness
itself will dwell. And the work of the (hue) righteousness must become
peace; and the service of the (true) righteousness, quietness and security
to time indefinite. And my people must dwell in a peaceful abiding place
and in residences of full confidence and in undisturbed resting-places."
Until that time arrives under God's Kingdom rule, I appeal to this
committee to use its influence to protect and reinforce the universally
recognized right of religious freedom in Western Europe.
i Justice Robert H. Jackson, West Virginia State Board of Education v.
Barnette, 319 U.S. 624, 642 (1943).
ii See the Bible at Exodus 20:2-5 or Deuteronomy 5:6-9.
iii See the Bible at Matthew 22:21; also Insight On the Scriptures, (New
York: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc., 1988), Vol. 1,
iv McCulloch v. Maryland, Wheaton (1819) p. 431.
v According to the report dated June 14, 1999, by the parliamentary
commission under Mr. Brard on sects and money, "the Tax Department has
availed itself of the possibility of inquiring about the source of gills
from hand to hand to sectarian associations in two cases: Jehovah's
Witnesses and Mandarom." (p. 223).
vi Reassessment notices dated December 27, 1996, and December 8, from the
Tax Department to the Association Les T6moins de Jehovah.
vii Article D. 432 of the Criminal Procedure Code provides that "each
prisoner should be able to meet the requirements of his religions, moral,
and spiritual life" and Article D. 439 of the same code authorizes
prisoners "to receive or keep in their possession those items for
religious practice and books necessary for their spiritual life."
viii Ecole des Pagodes, 305, Av. des Pagodes, 1120 Bmxelles.
ix Juvenile Court, Twentieth Chamber of First Instance of Bruges - October
x Justice of the Peace Court of the Filth Canton, Antwerp - January 11,
xi See the Bible at John 18:36.
xii The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states in Article :
"Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion;
this right includes freedom to chane his religion or belief, and freedom,
either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to
manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and
observance." Freedom to manifest his religion or belief, in worship,
teaching, practice and observance" is guaranteed by Article 9 of the
European Convention on Human Rights. Also, the German Constitution in
Article 4 states: "(1) Freedom of creed, of conscience, and freedom to
profess a religions or non-religious faith are inviolable. (2) The
undisturbed practice of religion is guaranteed."
xiii In the days of Jesus' earthly ministry, agricultural laborers
commonly received a denarius for a 12-hour work-day." Insight On the
Scriptures, Vol. 1, p. 614.
xiv Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 2; Declaration on the
Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on
Religion or Belief, Proclaimed by General Assembly resolution 36/55 of 25
November 1981; International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Part
II, Article 2 and Article 18:1.
xv National Social Security Institute, INSS/CAF-21,600,0 - Coordinator's
Office, on 11.12.97, Ref.: Term of Debt NFLD No. 018.702-0, 03.22.96,
Taxpayer: Sociedade Torre de Vigia de Biblias e Tratados, Matter:
Ministerial Avocation - Non-raising; and Ministry of Social Security and
Support- MPAS, National Institute of Social Security - INSS, General
Advisor's Office - Advisory, .200.13 - Collection Advisory Division,
Brasilia, May 06.
JOHN MCLAUGHLIN'S "ONE ON ONE"
GUESTS: SENATOR SAM BROWNBACK (R-KS) AND NINA HOPE SHEA, MEMBER, U.S.
COMMISSION ON INTERNATIONAL RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
TAPED: FRIDAY, MAY 19, 2000
BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF MAY 20, 2000
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Intolerance. At the dawn of the 21st century, one of
mankind's age-old curses still afflicts us. It is religious intolerance.
In China, Christians and so-called "cults" are the targets of brutal
government crack-downs. In the Sudan, antichristian riots have killed
hundreds. In Russia, antisemitism is rearing its despicable head. Is there
a cure for intolerance, a way to guarantee religious freedom? We'll ask
Senator Sam Brownback and Nina Hope Shea.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Senator Brownback, your committee this week held hearings.
What were those hearings about?
SEN. BROWNBACK: It was about the Religious Commission report on
international religious liberty and what has happened, in that report,
they're putting forward three countries that they're particularly citing
that have some of the worst cases of religious abuse, such as in the Sudan
and China, and one that we hold some of the most promise, but some of the
problems are rearing their head, in Russia. We held the hearings on that.
It was their first report that they've come out with.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Nina Shea, you're a member of that commission, are you
MS. SHEA: Yes, I am.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the official title of the commission?
MS. SHEA: The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: International Religious Freedom. Is this a new commission?
MS. SHEA: This was the first annual report of the commission. We were
founded in 1998 under the act that also established an ambassador for
religious freedom in the State Department, and we are mandated to make
recommendations to the president and to Congress about foreign policy
regarding some of the worst religious persecutors in the world.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So this is your first report?
MS. SHEA: That's correct.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What kind of standing does it have, officially?
MS. SHEA: It is --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you get cooperation from the White House? Did you get
cooperation from the State Department?
MS. SHEA: We are an independent panel created by Congress. We got -- our
cooperation from the State Department was so-so. We had some meetings, we
met with the president briefly. We met with Madeleine Albright, the
secretary of State, once. But one of the problems was that we were not
given access to important cables, especially on Sudan, from --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You were not?
MS. SHEA: We were not. So, at this point --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you register a complaint on that?
MS. SHEA: We have, and that's in the report.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And did you get any satisfaction from the State
MS. SHEA: We were told that they would correct that, so we're looking
forward to having a good working relationship with them next year.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I mention this because this is a brand new commission, is
SEN. BROWNBACK: Oh, it's brand new. This is their first report.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you find it odd that religious liberty, which is at the
backbone of this country, one of its key, if not its central underpinning
since the Pilgrims came here seeking religious freedom -- and I come from
the state, Rhode Island, where Roger Williams sought religious freedom
there. Do you find it odd that it's taken this long for the United States
Congress to focus on religious liberty?
SEN. BROWNBACK: I find it odd, but I'm also finding it a proud moment that
we're finally doing it. This country was founded on religious freedom. My
state of Kansas came into the union on the fight about freedom versus
slavery. And it was abolitionists that moved it out to Kansas, went out to
Kansas, that founded that freedom. But the U.S. is finally stepping up and
standing tall and starting to say this is a key human right, what you do
with your own soul. Indeed, it's the first human right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now, you've caucused with the members of the commission
because you are a member of the commission yourself; correct?
MS. SHEA: That's correct.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How were you impressed by your peers? And how many are
there, and who heads it up?
MS. SHEA: We have 10 members. There are nine voting members. It's very
diverse politically -- both parties are represented -- and very diverse
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who selects the members of the commission?
MS. SHEA: We have a couple selected by the president, a couple selected by
the majority in the House, majority in the Senate, who are the the
opposite parties of the president.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who heads up the commission?
MS. SHEA: Our chairman is David Saperstein (sp), who is a rabbi.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's a rabbi.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And is there a Mr. Siple (sp), or Reverend Siple (sp)?
SEN. BROWNBACK: He's the ambassador-at-large for religious freedom that
was also appointed in this act, Bob Siple (sp), excellent man, really a
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Was he with World Vision?
SEN. BROWNBACK: I understand that he was previously. So he has a
background and a knowledge of issues regarding faith around the world, and
he carries a passion with it, which is needed as well.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right.
Now, the commission decided that it would sharpen its focus in this
particular report and focus on Russia and China and the Sudan. Let's talk
about the Sudan. What is going on in the Sudan, which, by the way, is a
country in Africa? It's about four times the size of Texas, bigger than
Texas, that is. It's got about 35 million people. And it's about 52
percent black and about 35 percent Muslim.
MS. SHEA: We call Sudan -- the commission calls Sudan the world's most
violent religious persecutor, and that's why we took it up. Two million
people have been killed in a war that is largely about religion. That is,
a major factor of the war that's been going on for 17 years is about
religion. It was ignited when the government tried to impose Shariah law
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What is Shariah law? S-h-a-r-i-a-h, right?
MS. SHEA: Islamic law.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Islamic law.
MS. SHEA: It's a strict interpretation of Islamic law.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So you've got Muslims who are fighting and trying to
repress the Christians; correct?
MS. SHEA: Not quite correct. It's a Muslim extremist government that's
unpopular among its own people as well. It's a dictatorship.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is this the government in the north or the government in
MS. SHEA: There's only one government, and that's the government in
Khartoum, in the north.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, I'm talking about the government of the rebels in
the south. That, of course, is a Christian quasi- government, government
in exile, if you would. Correct?
MS. SHEA: There is a rebel force there that is comprised mostly of
Christians and animists and also some Muslims.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now, has there been much bloodshed in this war?
MS. SHEA: Two million killed.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Two million?
MS. SHEA: Two million killed.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Two million. That must be a kind of a record, isn't it?
MS. SHEA: More than Kosovo, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Bosnia combined.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Over how many years, Nina Shea?
MS. SHEA: That's over 17 years.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Seventeen years?
MS. SHEA: Yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is there any remission in the fighting, or is it going on
with the violence that it has had all along?
MS. SHEA: It's accelerating because oil has been discovered there and is
now being piped up. And enormous revenues are being channeled to the
government; that started last August. Foreign companies -- Chinese
government companies, Canadian companies -- Talisman Energy -- are pumping
oil for the government of Khartoum in a joint venture partnership. The
government's wealthy now; it can afford to really prosecute the war.
SEN. BROWNBACK: (Inaudible) --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is the government --
SEN. BROWNBACK: -- that's what they're doing.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- you have been there, right, Senator?
SEN. BROWNBACK: Yes, I have.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is the government instigating the violence there?
SEN. BROWNBACK: I believe that they are. I believe that they are, not only
doing it, they are also commissioning other people to do it. And they also
put things such as -- slavery is in practice in the Sudan.
I met yesterday in my office with a young man that had been a slave for 10
years in the Sudan, taken when he was 7 years old and wasn't able to
escape to freedom until he was 17 years old. And he was just -- he was a
slave. And that's happened in thousands of cases in the Sudan. Slavery
happens today somewhere in the world, and it's in the Sudan.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So we are talking about a Muslim government that is
SEN. BROWNBACK: An extremist Muslim government, because there are a number
of Muslim moderates that aren't satisfied or happy with this government at
all either. And they took power by force about 10 years ago.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What kind of proportionality are we talking about? What
percentage of moderate Muslims then, who do not try to impose their faith,
their belief, their purist Muslim belief?
SEN. BROWNBACK: The group that took power -- they had stood for election
prior to taking power by force, and they got less than 17 percent of the
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why is this -- is there something in the Muslim religion
that makes it prone to instigate a dimension and a quality of violence and
aggression? For example, Islama (sic) bin Laden, he clearly is motivated
by something that makes the West appear the harlot of the world, and he
hates it, and he wants to stop it. And he wants to impose the will of the
Muslim faith upon it. What is there about the Muslim faith where it is
felt in this type of extreme conditions -- what is there about it that
makes it so intense and violent and aggressive?
MS. SHEA: Well, I don't think that's quite fair; I don't think that Bin
Laden speaks for the Muslim faith. He is self-appointed. He is a Lone
Ranger. He goes out. He is very wealthy; he is able to hire armies, hire
terrorists. And I don't know what his true motives are, whether they are
religious or he is seeking power. Certainly, the government of Sudan is
seeking power and cynically cloaking itself in religious garb in order to
do this, to consolidate its power.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I don't wish to convey the view that I think that the
Muslim religion is anything else but noble and that there are these sects
or parts of pieces of the Muslim religion, which are extremely violent.
And they believe that everyone should convert to Islam; and if they don't
convert, then it's time for war. And, therefore, they conduct a jihad, a
so-called holy war. Correct?
MS. SHEA: That's what --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But what is there about that impulse? Is there something
in the tradition that would allow a Bin Laden and allow the government of
Khartoum to conduct itself the way it does?
SEN. BROWNBACK: I don't think it's there in that basis. I think this is --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh it's there and to some extent in Nigeria?
SEN. BROWNBACK: It is. But you are also seeing; there are Muslim groups
around the world that are persecuted for their faith, as well. And there
are moderate Muslims in some places in Islamic countries, that are being
persecuted and killed for their faith, too.
And I don't think you can associate it just there with that, because it
also happens in other faiths and religions, too.
MS. SHEA: I agree with what the senator said, but I also think that this
government is, he -- they are invoking Islam as a way of getting support
for this war, which they do call a jihad. Now, I don't think they are
representative of Islam; I don't think it's a legitimate form of Islam.
There are other forms I think we should -- the United States, as policy,
should be supporting moderate Islam. We are doing no favor to our friends
who are moderate Muslims by being silent about what's going on in Sudan.
I'm not --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Have you talked with President Clinton about this matter
in the Sudan?
MS. SHEA: Yes, I have.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What did he say to you?
MS. SHEA: He said, he only said, "I find it very frustrating." He was not
that engaged in the issue. We have really been begging him, the
commission, Freedom House, the senator --
SEN. BROWNBACK: I have. I've met with Secretary of State Albright, I've
talked with her three times. I've talked with the national security
advisor about this, asked for a meeting with the president about it. We've
been pushing to try to get this as a focus point, because of all the
countries around the world, religious persecution is taking place the most
and the worst in the Sudan.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Sudan is horrible. Horrible.
SEN. BROWNBACK: It's a horrible situation.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It stands alone as a perverse monument to intolerance. But
let me ask you this. When you were in Khartoum -- as you know, the
president was responsible for bombing the El-Shifa pharmaceutical factory
over there and it was a glaring mistake, and the CIA has all but admitted
it. And -- has that inflamed the passions of those -- of those violent
Muslims who are there, those violent Islamists who are there?
SEN. BROWNBACK: I have not detected that. Now, I have not been in
Khartoum. I've been in the southern part of the Sudan in the areas that
have been held by the rebels. I have not been in Khartoum.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So you saw the famine?
SEN. BROWNBACK: The areas I were in there was not a famine going on at
that time. I was at a refugee camp where people had been driven from the
famine territories, and I've heard and talked with a number of people who
have had family members killed, that have died --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So you don't detect any reaction to the erroneous bombing
of the El-Shifa pharmaceutical plant?
SEN. BROWNBACK: I think there has to be a reaction to that --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But we know there's a government reaction.
SEN. BROWNBACK: There is a government, and I'm certain there is in the
population as well. What I'm saying is that what's taking place by
government policy in Khartoum; they house terrorists, this is a terrorist
regime, they are conducting an ethnic and religious cleansing of
monumental proportions, and the United States should be stepping forward
and helping in the south, and we're not doing it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why? Why should we help? Humanitarian grounds alone?
MS. SHEA: Yes. I think past genocides haunt our leaders today. Our
newspapers to this day are filled with stories about past genocides.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can you make a geopolitical national security case out of
getting control of this lost, hopeless continent of Africa today? You've
got Sierra Leone, you've got Zimbabwe, you've got this situation there,
you have the ravaging of AIDS in the continent.
MS. SHEA: I think you have to distinguish the Sudan from all the other
areas because of the genocidal proportions of the conflict there, of the
deaths, the number of deaths.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But are there geopolitical dimensions to that?
SEN. BROWNBACK: Yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is Israel -- is any outside nation aiding either of the
MS. SHEA: As the senator said, this is a terrorist government that is
spreading terror around the world. They tried to assassinate the president
of Egypt. There has been links to bin Laden and so forth.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This goes to a larger point, and that is whether or not
Africa itself, in many of its locations, is becoming a terrorist
stronghold. And I've discussed this with other senators and they seem to
pooh-pooh the idea, but, you know, with the bombing of our embassy in
Kenya, this type of cooperation from indigenous citizens there does not
come unless there is a human climate that is hospitable to terrorism. And
bin Laden then can move in and arouse that stimulus. And I think it does
have a Muslim and Islamist extremist component that does render it
hospitable to conduct terrorist acts. So that makes it a national security
problem, does it not?
SEN. BROWNBACK: It is. And Sudan is the center --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So it goes beyond humanitarian aid.
SEN. BROWNBACK: But Sudan is the center point for terrorism in Africa, if
not globally. Actually, you'd probably have to look at Afghanistan as
being the center point for terrorism globally, as the lead country now,
but Sudan is not far behind. And it's clearly the node for Africa. That's
why we have a national security interest. And I can't believe that we
aren't willing to step forward and to speak up for these people in the
south that have been so killed, 2 million. We had 100,000 die of a
man-induced starvation in 1998 alone. You have slavery going on,
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, wait a minute. Are you complaining we don't send
foreign aid over there?
SEN. BROWNBACK: We are doing it, but it's at the direction of the Sudanese
government of where it can go to. So they actually say you can't go here.
We have people who are starving.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do we have any of our own AID workers on the ground over
there who are directing the flow of our humanitarian aid? Do we?
SEN. BROWNBACK: It's Operation Lifeline Sudan, which is a U.N.
over-arching type of operation, that's actually delivering human aid. But
it only goes where the Sudanese government lets it go.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But there's a larger question here, and that is the
incredibly paltry dimension of our foreign aid as a nation. Here we are,
the most powerful and wealthy nation in the world, and we stand at the
dead bottom of the top 20 nations that contribute. I think it's less than
1 percent of our national budget. It's about one-fourth of 1 percent of
our national budget.
MS. SHEA: It's overall very small, but I think in Sudan it's pretty large.
We've been giving about $100 million a year to Sudan for the last 10
years. That's a billion dollars in aid. But there's no policy, there's no
over-arching policy, so we don't do anything to stop the killing, we don't
do anything to stop this displacement of people. Five million people have
been driven from their lands, cannot grow agriculture, cannot produce,
cannot feed themselves, dependent on this humanitarian help.
SEN. BROWNBACK: When I was there, they weren't asking for more food aid,
for even food aid. They were saying, "Look, stop the bombings that are
taking place from the north. Let us get to peace here." That's what they
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We'll be right back.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Should the U.S. trade relationship with China be in any
way controlled, governed or regulated by China's treatment of its citizens
and their human rights?
We'll put that question to our guests. But first, here are their
Born Garnett, Kansas. Forty-three years of age. Wife, Mary. Five children;
two children recently adopted, a girl from China, a boy from Guatemala.
Methodist. Republican. Kansas State University, B.S. University of Kansas,
Doctor of Laws. State of Kansas, secretary of agriculture, seven years.
United States House of Representatives, Kansas, two years. United States
Senate, Kansas, four years and currently. Committees: Commerce, Science
and Transportation, Foreign Relations; Health, Education, Labor and
Pensions; Joint Economic Committee. Hobbies: reading history, working the
family farm, running. Samuel Dale Brownback.
Born Philadelphia. Forty-six years of age. Husband, Adam. Three children.
Catholic. Independent. Smith College, B.A. American University, Doctor of
Laws. Human rights attorney, emphasis on religious persecution, 21 years
and currently. Freedom House Center for Religious Freedom, director, four
years and currently. United States Commission on International Religious
Freedom, commissioner, one year and currently. Author: "In the Lion's
Den," a book subtitled "A Shocking Account of Persecution and Martyrdom of
Christians Today," 1997. Hobbies: baking cakes. Nina Hope Shea.
Senator Brownback, how serious is the repression of Christianity in China?
SEN. BROWNBACK: It's serious. It also appears to have some regional
impact. In some places, it's far worse than it is in some other areas. But
the point of it is, I think to China; if they consider themselves moving
forward towards freedom and being a great nation today, they really need
to say to their citizenry, "You are free to practice whatever you want to
do and to do with your own soul as you see fit," rather than the
oppression that's taking place.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In your hearings, did you concentrate on the repression of
religious freedom in Tibet?
SEN. BROWNBACK: We focused some on that. China was one of the three
countries that we hit, and Tibet is one of the most glaring examples. And
I personally have met with a number of Tibetan refugees; even in January
of this year, I was in Kathmandu, Nepal, talking with people who had spent
two weeks at least, walking over the Himalayas in the wintertime just to
get to freedom. And they had some incredible stories of that human spirit
and the willingness to be out and to be free.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And the United Nations recently accused China of using
torture; I think it was an Amnesty International report. Is torture used
to repress dissidents, do you know, Nina Shea?
MS. SHEA: Absolutely. And we have seen some torture deaths this year. A
Falun Gong woman was beaten --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Falun Gong?
MS. SHEA: -- Gong -- the spiritual movement --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.
MS. SHEA: -- in China that's being terribly repressed; 35,000 of them by
the government's own admission, were imprisoned. Some of those people have
And some have been tortured to death. A Catholic bishop was handed over to
his family in the early '90s, dead -- the body -- dead with marks of
torture all over it; Catholic priests found dead on the street, last seen
in custody last May, a year ago.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Should we use trade sanctions to modify China's behavior
towards religious dissidents?
MS. SHEA: The Commission on International Religious Freedom recommended --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's your commission, the new commission.
MS. SHEA: The new commission recommended that we not give PNTR to China at
this time. It sends the wrong message. We want to see substantial progress
in a range of categories.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know that the gentleman you're sitting next to favors
giving China permanent normal trade relation status, is that correct?
SEN. BROWNBACK: That's correct. I think it's the best way for us to move
China forward towards more freedom, including religious freedom.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you make that clear to the members of the commission
when you held you hearings this week?
SEN. BROWNBACK: We discussed that issue some, but it was also in an
overall context of --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You didn't make it clear what your own opinion was?
SEN. BROWNBACK: I don't think we discussed that at length at that --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you have unanimity from the members of your commission
on this point?
MS. SHEA: Yes, we did, and we have a wide range of people. We have a
Catholic bishop, we have a Jewish rabbi, we have a Baha'i, we have a
Muslim on our group, Protestants, and everybody agreed.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you hear the rationale of the senator for not
restricting trade relations, or denying them PNTR status, by reason of the
things that worry you?
MS. SHEA: Yes, and you know, the commission recognizes that in many of
China's neighboring countries that trade relations -- permit trade, normal
relations -- does open up countries politically. But we feel that to give
China this benefit at this time when there is such a sharp deterioration
in religious freedom now would send the wrong signal.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We'll be right back.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Antisemitism exists in Russia. How bad is it and what
measures is the U.S. government taking to try to induce Russia to
MS. SHEA: We're very concerned about antisemitism. It is rising, it's a
serious societal problem in Russia, and we're also concerned about the
religious registration law that requires all churches and all religious
groups to register or else be liquidated.
SEN. BROWNBACK: And that's the point of really what the commission is
looking at now, is Russia is setting the template for much of the Soviet
Union, and they're putting in these very restrictive religious laws, and
we don't want them to do it because if they do it, it's going to be
replicated in a number of areas.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is Russia engaged in antisemitism -- I mean, that segment
of the Russian population -- because of scapegoating?
SEN. BROWNBACK: Who knows, really, what all the underlying factors are
that takes place in it, but it exists and it's pretty rampant within that
country, and I think we've got to continually speak up and say religious
freedom is a key right for everybody, regardless of what their faith is.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you have a concluding thought, quickly?
MS. SHEA: That we should continue to support the Smith Amendment tying our
aid to Russia to religious freedom.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Thanks so much, Nina Shea and Senator Brownback.
SEN. BROWNBACK: Thank you.
MS. SHEA: Thank you.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Baha'i movement, and we can call that a religious
movement, that movement is key to the lives of 7 (million) to 8 million
people worldwide. There's terrible persecution of the Baha'is going on in
Iran, in Pakistan and, where, Russia?
MS. SHEA: There's some in Burma, I think some in Malaysia, yeah.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now, I know that the commission has focused on the
countries of China and Russia and Sudan and the more outstanding and
populated religions, but what about the Baha'is? You have a Baha'i member
on your commission, correct?
MS. SHEA: That's right. And we are going to be taking up Iran this next
report. We're very concerned about it because it's illegal to be a Baha'i
in Iran. It can be punishable by death. And they have killed 200 of them.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This goes to my point that where you have the Muslim
religion you do have a serious or more or less uncontrolled element of
aggression that comes to the fore that has a religious -- a
pseudo-religious origin that makes it almost beyond constraint. And this
is the case with the Baha'is. They cannot tolerate the Baha'is because
they're not from Islam.
MS. SHEA: It definitely is a -- they consider it a heretical sect, and
apostate, and, therefore, liable for death, have no rights under the
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It was founded by an Iranian in, what, the 1860s? Is that
MS. SHEA: Yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And let's move on to Scientology. There's another --it's
called a cult, which is kind of a dismissive word, which almost invites a
certain amount of oppression, doesn't it?
SEN. BROWNBACK: It does, or regulation, in some countries. Where I get
concerned is --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But it is, to those who practice Scientology, a true
SEN. BROWNBACK: It is. And where I get concerned is, like the First
Amendment, when you start cutting somebody's speech out somewhere, I get
concerned anywhere about it. And I think you ought to look at this the
same way. What people choose to do with their own souls is their right,
and it should be protected.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know, in Germany, the Scientologists take an
extra-heavy hit. Why do the Germans find Scientology so obnoxious? Do you
MS. SHEA: They don't consider it a religion, and I guess they feel
threatened by it. And I don't think governments, especially Germany,
should be in the business of saying, you know, what's a religion or not.
And I find it very disconcerting.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you find that India is a religiously free country, or
does it also persecute Christians? Because I've read about Jesuits in
northern India who have been either slain or wounded and members of their
schools likewise, or communities.
SEN. BROWNBACK: You can read about a number of horrifying stories in
India. But I would put on your radar screen North Korea. I'm reading some
absolutely terrifying stories, and I've had in my office people who have
witnessed individuals who were told, "Renounce your faith or we're going
to pour this molten iron over your head and kill you." And they wouldn't
renounce their faith, and they witnessed people killed that way, with
poured molten iron on their head. I've read of stories of people having
road equipment run over people because they wouldn't deny their faith, you
know, and this is governments doing it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This is because communism cannot withstand anything that
looks like a conflicting hierarchy; correct?
MS. SHEA: That's right. And we're seeing that today in Vietnam, as well.
And they're particularly harsh with the independent Buddhist church, but
also Protestants and also some Catholics in the tribal villages in
Vietnam, plus the Hoa Hao, which is an indigenous religion similar to
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Have some of your people from the commission been to
MS. SHEA: Some of them no doubt have, not as representing the commission,
but the commission has also met with delegations from Vietnam, delegations
of religious people who are oppressed, and that is one of the countries
that is on our list for next year.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I was in Saigon and in Hanoi about six months ago, and I
heard a little bit about the Buddhist persecution, but not as strongly as
you have put it. But apparently something is there.
SEN. BROWNBACK: The problem is, this is going on in so many places around
the world. And the beauty of what we're doing is it's finally starting to
get a little bit of focus, but it needs a lot more.