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Fighting persecution is right

On Sunday afternoon, after I had seen the two videos, I thought that if only God had a sense of packaging He would put them back-to-back on one cassette. Then he would drop them on the heads of all people who can worship in freedom but are indifferent to the suffering of those who cannot.

One video shows the overriding power of the new American value, international trade - and the decreasing influence of the values that had made America particular. Among them was the belief in the universality of the right to freedom of religion. The other video shows determination by some Americans never to forget that.The video I saw first was made by Boeing, a delighted account of its increasing airplane sales to China. Boeing reports proudly what else it did for Beijing to make China strong.

At one of the China-Boeing meetings in Beijing, a company executive tells how Boeing organized an American lobby to get the lowest possible tariffs for China - the most-favored-nation treatment.

First, he says, Boeing called on the hundreds of companies that sell it supplies to lobby politicians for those tariffs, in person and through a letter campaign. Moving up, he announces that Boeing then organized America's major companies to lobby President Clinton and former Sen. Bob Dole, successfully.

The Boeing folk do not say why many Americans fought those low tariffs - including Clinton during his first campaign. They wanted to link lowering tariffs with lowering of Communist repression of Chinese and Tibetan human rights.

It was the American missionary zeal for freedom that inspired the underground railroad to rescue American slaves. It led to legislation that opened America's doors to Jews and Pentecostal Christians of the Soviet Union. And it saved at least some Jews from Hitler.

The second video is about religious persecution of Christians around the world: the attacks on Christian bodies and churches in Pakistan, Egypt and Iran and the enslavement, yes, enslavement, of Christians in the Sudan.

And, of course, it deals with the decades of imprisonment, torture and perpetual harassment of Christians in China.

The video is called "Shatter the Silence" and was made by Christians who have been trying to do that for years. It is part of the prelude to Nov. 16, the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, which will be observed in churches across America. For information about the video and the Day of Prayer: 1-888-538-7772 or (www.persecutedchurch.org).

Christian groups preparing for the Day of Prayer hope it will be followed by actions - individual and church actions toward strengthening a growing national movement against religious persecution abroad, and support of legislation like the Wolf-Specter bill in Congress.

The bill calls for fairly mild penalties for persecuting Christians and other worshipers - banning American loans and non-humanitarian aid to guilty nations. But it is fought by the business lobby that Boeing helped create as if it were the devil's own work.

And to Beijing and its American servitors I suppose it is, because it is an embodiment of a message from an Iranian Christian heard on the Day of Prayer video: The opposite of love is not hate but indifference.