Toronto pastor sentenced to life in prison in atheist North Korea

A conflict of worldviews
A conflict of worldviews

Here’s the story from the radically leftist CBC News.

Excerpt:

North Korea’s Supreme Court has sentenced a Canadian pastor to life in prison with hard labour for what it called crimes against the state.

Hyeon Soo Lim, who is in his early 60s and is pastor at the Light Korean Presbyterian Church in Toronto, was sentenced after a 90-minute trial. He had been in detention since February.

Lim’s relatives and colleagues have said he travelled on Jan. 31 as part of a regular humanitarian mission to North Korea where he supports a nursing home, a nursery and an orphanage. They said Lim has made more than 100 trips to North Korea since 1997, and that his trips were about helping people and were not political.

[…]Charges against him include:

  • Harming the dignity of the supreme leadership.
  • Trying to use religion to destroy the North Korean system.
  • Disseminating negative propaganda about the North to the overseas Koreans.
  • Helping U.S. and South Korean authorities to lure and abduct North Korean citizens, and aiding their programs to assist defectors from the North.

State prosecutors sought the death penalty.

Now I would imagine that this is the kind of thing that our own radical atheist groups in America would celebrate, e.g. – the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the ACLU, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Human Rights Campaign, etc. They are very anxious to get rid of using public expressions of Christianity from the public square, and big government is their preferred weapon to achieve that. I would say that the opinion of Christianity among the North Korean elite is similar to the opinion of Christianity held by the secular elites in the Democrat Party, and I have blogged many times on their anti-Christian statements to that effect,here for example and here for another example and here for yet another example.  Personally, I would think that in the Obama administration, more work is done spying on Christians, pro-lifers and conservatives than on radical Islamists and radical environmentalists. Which is why we need to vote the Democrats out – they are not serious about the real threats we face as a nation.

Atheist regimes

Let’s go ahead and review what atheist regimes in other times and places are like.

Let’s take a look at what Josef Stalin did during his rule of Russia in the 1920s and 1930s.

The Library of Congress offers this in their “Soviet Archives exhibit”:

The Soviet Union was the first state to have as an ideological objective the elimination of religion. Toward that end, the Communist regime confiscated church property, ridiculed religion, harassed believers, and propagated atheism in the schools. Actions toward particular religions, however, were determined by State interests, and most organized religions were never outlawed.

The main target of the anti-religious campaign in the 1920s and 1930s was the Russian Orthodox Church, which had the largest number of faithful. Nearly all of its clergy, and many of its believers, were shot or sent to labor camps. Theological schools were closed, and church publications were prohibited. By 1939 only about 500 of over 50,000 churches remained open.

Let’s see more from a peer-reviewed journal article authored by Crispin Paine of the University College, London:

Atheist propaganda and the struggle against religion began immediately after the Bolsheviks seized power in 1917. While social change would, under Marxist theory, bring religion to disappear, Leninists argued that the Party should actively help to eradicate religion as a vital step in creating ‘New Soviet Man’. The energy with which the Party struggled against religion, though, varied considerably from time to time and from place to place, as did its hostility to particular faith groups. The 1920s saw the closure of innumerable churches and synagogues (and to a lesser extent mosques) and the active persecution of clergy and harassment of believers. From 1930, though, Stalin introduced a less aggressive approach, and wartime support for the government earned for the Russian Orthodox Church, at least, a level of toleration which lasted until Stalin’s death. Under Khrushchev antireligious efforts resumed, if spasmodically, and they lasted until the end of the Soviet Union.

An article from the pro-communism Marxist.com web site says this about Stalin:

During the ultra-left period of forcible collectivisation and the Five Year Plan in Four an attempt was made to liquidate the Church and its influence by government decree. Starting in 1929 churches were forcibly closed and priests arrested and exiled all over the Soviet Union. The celebrated Shrine of the Iberian Virgin in Moscow – esteemed by believers to be the “holiest” in all Russia was demolished – Stalin and his Government were not afraid of strengthening religious fanaticism by wounding the feelings of believers as Lenin and Trotsky had been! Religion, they believed, could be liquidated, like the kulak, by a stroke of the pen. The Society of Militant Atheists, under Stalin’s orders, issued on May 15th 1932, the “Five Year Plan of Atheism” – by May 1st 1937, such as the “Plan”, “not a single house of prayer shall remain in the territory of the USSR, and the very concept of God must be banished from the Soviet Union as a survival of the Middle Ages and an instrument for the oppression of the working masses.”!

Take a look at this UK Daily Mail article about a great achievement of the atheist Josef Stalin, which occurred in 1932-1933.

Excerpt:

Now, 75 years after one of the great forgotten crimes of modern times, Stalin’s man-made famine of 1932/3, the former Soviet republic of Ukraine is asking the world to classify it as a genocide.

The Ukrainians call it the Holodomor – the Hunger.

Millions starved as Soviet troops and secret policemen raided their villages, stole the harvest and all the food in villagers’ homes.

They dropped dead in the streets, lay dying and rotting in their houses, and some women became so desperate for food that they ate their own children.

If they managed to fend off starvation, they were deported and shot in their hundreds of thousands.

So terrible was the famine that Igor Yukhnovsky, director of the Institute of National Memory, the Ukrainian institution researching the Holodomor, believes as many as nine million may have died.

[…]Between four and five million died in Ukraine, a million died in Kazakhstan and another million in the north Caucasus and the Volga.

By 1933, 5.7 million households – somewhere between ten million and 15 million people – had vanished. They had been deported, shot or died of starvation.

This is what follows when you believe that the universe is an accident, that there is no objective good and evil, that human beings are just animals, that no God will hold us accountable, and that human beings are not made in the image of God for the purpose of freely choosing to come into a relationship with him. The Ukrainian famine is an action that came from a man whose worldview was passionate, consistent atheism.

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6 thoughts on “Toronto pastor sentenced to life in prison in atheist North Korea”

  1. And, that is one more bookmarked WK post – amongst dozens – thanks, WK! Nice connecting of the dots at the end, BTW – I will be quoting that, with proper credit of course.

  2. Atheist here. Those regimes are all excellent examples of why atheism should never be mandated by law. But I could point to multiple nations in the middle east and even some early colonies in the present day United States as examples of why religion shouldn’t be either. Even within a given religion there are a wide variety of interpretations and practices, and that’s part of the diversity of the human experience. I can’t speak for all atheists but I’m pretty active in the atheist blogging community on WordPress and I haven’t seen anybody there calling for oppression of Christianity, just the maintenance of the freedom to choose and express one’s beliefs or lack thereof, but do point me in the direction of one if you know an example.

    1. He named several organizations who have actively fought against Christians’ rights to express their religious beliefs publicly in the United States. You’ve also got Hitchens’s “Religion Poisons Everything” shtick (a lie), Dawkins’s “Mock them, laugh at them” act, etc.

      They’ll never call for an outright ban on religion, that would make them too many enemies, so they dance around the issue saying it’s about “freedom” then sue (ACLU, FFRF, etc), strong-arm (Jerry Coyne muscling Guillermo Gonzalez out of a tenure position because of his opinion about an unrelated field) and harass (gay activists vandalizing churches, etc) to deny freedom to Christians while cowering from Muslims (e.g. Penn Jilette’s “I have a family” admission as to why he doesn’t go after Muslims like he does Christians).

      1. Well you’re free to think that. I won’t defend Hitchens or Dawkins because frankly those are individual people and it’s not fair to expect those two to represent an entire group of people, small though it may be. I can’t speak about the other organizations but as far as I’ve seen, the FFRF is primarily concerned about taxpayer money being used to fund a religion–any religion, because the US is a diverse country that guarantees religious freedom and has a constitutional amendment that prevents the government promoting any specific religion. According to the first amendment, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” They’re literally just upholding the constitution and being a voice for atheists. How would you feel if every day when your child walked into a public school he or she had to listen to someone preach about Allah, and might be given handouts about Islam and copies of the Quran while his peers thought this was completely normal? How would you feel if the courthouse had giant stone tablets bearing Buddhist sayings and this was considered the epitome of morality and nobody said hey, but my religion is different, why does yours get a public display? Can’t we go about our business here without seeing our taxes squandered to promote someone else’s beliefs?

        Atheists are a minority in this country. We don’t have many gathering places taking collections every Sunday. We are largely connected through the internet.

        Gay, and LBTQ people are also a minority, who face rampant discrimination, especially in deeply religious communities. I have no problem with Christianity being practiced, but when people discriminate against minority groups in the name of their religion, I kind of have to care. You’re part of the big group. The one with the power. It should be your job to look out for the little guy, for the minorities, thanks to the position of power the many church communities in this country have. When parents disown their children for the way you believe your deity made them, you should care. When teens become homeless because of this, you should care. When children are bullied for being a little bit different–having a different religion, wearing clothing that’s a little different, what have you–you should be the first to say “Jesus wouldn’t treat people like this.” But too often, it’s the Christians doing the persecuting. Don’t get me wrong, I know plenty of religious Christians who are not doing these things, and who are even working to improve situations for these minorities, but if we’re talking about groups facing violence and discrimination in the US–and I’m limiting this to the US here–Christians have very little to worry about besides feeling offended when someone says “Happy Holidays to mean “Merry Christmas or Hanukkah and Happy New Year” at the same time. If you can show me an example of genuine Christian freedoms being denied in the United States from a reputable news source, I’ll consider what you’re talking about.

        1. Hitches, Dawkins, Jilette, Denett, et al represent a rabidly anti-theistic strain of atheism. Given the transient, small population of atheism, it’s hard to get a read on exactly how many share their views, but “new” atheism is undeniably front-and-center.

          FFRF being concerned with allocation of taxpayer money is complete horse crap. They repeatedly conflate a public employee having an opinion with violations of the establishment clause. They’re openly trying to shut Christianity out of the public square.

          http://aclj.org/religious-liberty/nothing-fails-like-a-freedom-from-religion-foundation-lawsuit

          http://www.standfirminfaith.com/?/sf/page/31408

          http://sytereitz.com/tag/ffrf-freedom-from-religion-foundation/

          You ask “How would you feel if every day when your child walked into a public school he or she had to listen to someone preach about Allah, and might be given handouts about Islam and copies of the Quran while his peers thought this was completely normal?”

          That is the case now, the difference is that the public school system is being underhanded in its promotion of Islam:

          https://pjmedia.com/trending/2015/12/16/public-school-students-told-to-practice-calligraphy-by-writing-there-is-no-god-but-allah

          Props to atheists, at least the more aggressive sort are open about their intentions, even if they insist on using lawfare to achieve their ends.

          “How would you feel if the courthouse had giant stone tablets bearing Buddhist sayings and this was considered the epitome of morality and nobody said hey, but my religion is different, why does yours get a public display?”

          I would feel a disconnect as Buddhist philosphy has nothing whatsoever to do with American legal philosophy while Judeo-Christian philosophy does. In effect, what you’re objecting to is a public display of anything that has to do with religion; this offends you and by making a case that it shouldn’t be displayed on first amendment grounds, you’re arguing that you have a right not to be offended. Believe me when I say that’s a can of worms you don’t want opened.

          “Can’t we go about our business here without seeing our taxes squandered to promote someone else’s beliefs?”

          Then let’s shut down libraries, colleges and every other learning institution because they promote ideas that someone might object to. Trying to claim religion is somehow separated from other types of learning when it’s foundational to several schools of philosophy and metaphysics is special pleading. If you want to have a conversation about exactly how taxpayer funds are allocated, we can do that, but you’re trying to make an argument in principle, meaning specific funding measures are irrelevant minutia.

          “Atheists are a minority in this country. We don’t have many gathering places taking collections every Sunday. We are largely connected through the internet.”

          And?

          “Gay, and LBTQ people are also a minority, who face rampant discrimination, especially in deeply religious communities.”

          Actually, the majority perpetrators of hate crimes against gays are young black men who have very low religiosity, most likely followed by Hispanics who the FBI labelled as White until a few months ago.

          http://downtrend.com/71superb/new-fbi-stats-blacks-more-likely-to-commit-hate-crimes-than-any-other-race

          “but when people discriminate against minority groups in the name of their religion, I kind of have to care.”

          Define “discrimination” and explain why being forced to associate with someone against your will is a good thing. As it stands, the major cases of anti-gay “discrimination” consist entirely of not wanting to bake a wedding cake, not wanting to take wedding photos, not wanting to rent a room at a bed and breakfast, and one pizza shop owner saying he wouldn’t cater a gay wedding. Sacre bleu! It’s like the Jim Crow south!

          “You’re part of the big group. The one with the power. It should be your job to look out for the little guy, for the minorities, thanks to the position of power the many church communities in this country have. ”

          Which in this instance means giving gays and atheists everything they want, even sacrificing our individual liberty and right to free expression and free association lest they be offended and conduct a campaign of legal war against Christians. Also, you haven’t supported your claim that “the big group” is under any moral obligation to support anyone, let alone minority groups. You’re just engaging in shaming tactics.

          ” Don’t get me wrong, I know plenty of religious Christians who are not doing these things, and who are even working to improve situations ”

          Church-going Christians are far less likely on average to engage in any of the behavior you mention, yet because we aren’t perfect (as you imply the definition to be), there’s a major issue for you. Why not tell gays to live and let live instead of enacting “revenge” against their “oppressors” by vandalizing churches, stabbing pastors and launching million dollar law suits?

          “but if we’re talking about groups facing violence and discrimination in the US”

          Mostly blacks at the hands of other blacks and Hispanics, making hate crimes a race issue much more than a religious one unless you’re talking about black and Hispanics targeting Jews.

          “Christians have very little to worry about besides feeling offended when someone says “Happy Holidays to mean “Merry Christmas or Hanukkah and Happy New Year” at the same time.”

          And losing our businesses, jobs, reputations, savings, and rights if we say anything mean about anyone (see the lawsuits listed above). Take, for instance, Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s declaration that the Justice Dept would prosecute anyone who said anything mean about Muslims (like, for instance, Allah is not God and their prophet was a warmongering, mass-raping slaver). Why do you think WK blogs anonymously?

          ” If you can show me an example of genuine Christian freedoms being denied in the United States from a reputable news source, I’ll consider what you’re talking about.”

          Here’s the slippery wording we all love so much. See, you can just claim any news source I list isn’t “reputable” and cling to your belief despite not being supported by facts, but let’s have a go:

          Right to freedom of association violated:
          http://www.wsj.com/articles/court-rules-baker-cant-refuse-to-make-wedding-cake-for-gay-couple-1439506296

          Right to freedom of expression threatened:
          http://dailycaller.com/2015/10/26/praying-football-coach-will-sue-washington-school-district-for-refusing-to-let-him-pray/

          Right to religious expression threatened in a set-up by gay activist:
          https://www.libertyinstitute.org/modderfacts

          Handing a student a Bible is enough to warrant firing, despite the role it played in western history:
          http://www.christianpost.com/news/evangelical-teacher-fired-for-giving-bible-to-student-supported-by-eeoc-ruling-132293/

          Christians sued for talking to strangers (charges were dropped):
          http://aclj.org/free-speech-2/victory-street-evangelists-exonerated-free-speech-protected

          This paper has more to say on the topic with a good handful of examples of the right to religious freedom being violated:
          http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2012/10/religious-liberty-and-expression-under-attack-restoring-americas-first-freedoms

          1. Excellent work, Jordan! Thank you for taking the time to write what so many of us think.

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