Tomorrow, people around the world will “wear red, light red” and post pictures on social media. It is a simple way that individuals, churches, or any faith or community group can raise awareness about global persecution. Awareness is crucial if people who suffer for their beliefs are to be allowed the religious freedom their dignity demands. Here’s why:
Recently Vice President Mike Pence announced that the U.S. would change its policy on how U.S. relief is distributed in Iraq. Christians, Yezidis, and other genocide victims will receive aid directly through USAID, faith-based groups and private organizations in an effort to speed up and streamline funding to these groups.
This policy change happened because various organizations, both in the non-profit sector and in government, used evidence to advocate for a policy change.
New information, alongside coordinated action on the part of many, generated a new understanding of the problem and fueled an urgency to act. This is the definition of awareness and advocacy: many people sharing new information in different ways with people who can make a difference. Awareness led directly to policy change. The process used to promote change in Iraq policy can be duplicated to help where other atrocities are taking place.
According to the Pew Research Center, 79% of people around the world live where there are high or very high levels of persecution. Persecution takes many forms. It can mean being attacked because you have the “wrong” beliefs. Your children might be stopped from getting a proper education, or the government could tear down your sacred space.
Religious freedom issues require dynamic solutions. In a democracy, policy makers can have an impact, but they have to know that voters and constituents want them to prioritize these issues. As a U.S. citizen, you have a powerful voice. And you should steward it for the sake of persecuted people. Research shows that it takes only 15 people in a district to get a congressperson to pay attention to an issue that is not currently a priority.
#RedWednesday is an important way to help your friends, family, and followers know about persecution. Help us build a world where men, women, and children have nothing to fear because of what they believe. The persecuted do not just need your compassion – they need your citizenship. They need you to get other citizens to stand for faith and freedom. #RedWednesday is the first step.
Director of Policy Relations
1. Download the Plan and Resources packet to see how easy it is for you to join #RedWednesday. We have memes that say “#RedWednesday” for you to share on social media, examples of pictures you can take, and suggested posts as well. http://bit.ly/2yNZThi
2. Go to the Facebook event and share that you are joining #RedWednesday. https://www.facebook.com/events/935469893285518/
3. Go to the “Take Action” section of the Plan and Resources packet and write a letter to two pastors imprisoned in Myanmar because they stood for religious freedom.
(c) 2017 Wilberforce Initiative