The Biggest Miss at the G-20 Summit

We can expect more violence from religious intolerance, a rise in extremism and related human tragedy after this past weekend.

As the G-20 summit was held this past Friday and Saturday, commentators focused on what resolutions would come from this meeting with the world's top leaders. Would there be a united commitment on sustainable and renewable energy? Would there be any progress in solving the migrant crisis?

While news contributors and analysts offered their perspectives, it became clear a significant issue impacting the global community was left off the agenda again: international religious freedom.

As the actions of a nation are no longer isolated but rather have global implications, it is vital to recognize lack of religious freedom is at the root of many of the top issues impacting our world today. Addressing challenges, such as the migrant crisis, without considering religious freedom violations is really just a Band-Aid—covering a wound without getting to the essence of the problem. In the case of the migrant crisis, many of the individuals fleeing are doing so because they are targeted for their faith, such as the Christians and other religious minorities who have fled Iraq, Syria, Eritrea and other nations.

More than 75 percent of people live in areas with limitations on religious freedom, and more than 215 million Christians, specifically, are persecuted for their faith. These aren't just shocking statistics; they represent real families and individuals such as Miriam, a widow displaced by Boko Haram in Northern Nigeria, who is now facing the horrific reality of the widespread famine caused by Boko Haram, which continues to target individuals like Miriam because of their Christian faith.

It is widely known and acknowledged that without religious freedom and freedom of conscience, free societies are simply not sustainable. Freedom of religion is a bedrock of healthy societies. And even more critically, the persecution of Christians and the rise of religious intolerance are often lead indicators of regions and countries tipping into chaos—the outcomes of which have been everything from ethnic cleansings and genocides to mass forced migration and sprawling humanitarian crises.

Six of the nations represented at the G-20 summit are on the Open Doors World Watch List, which ranks the top 50 countries where Christians face the most persecution. Yet international religious freedom was not an agenda item.

I urge world leaders, especially our president, to make religious freedom an agenda item next year. If we continue to ignore the role of international religious freedom in major problems, such as the migrant issue or famine, the problems will continue to grow. Literal lives are at risk...the world's top leaders must do better.

In Poland, President Trump asked the question "does the West have the will to survive?" By avoiding the most central issue to the most pressing human tragedies facing us today, all of the G-20 leaders may have unintentionally answered the President's challenge: no.

David Curry is the president and CEO at Open Doors USA, a global advocate for persecuted Christians that works in the most restrictive and oppressive countries for Christians.

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