Dr. Burkle retired from The Salvation Army in early 2019 where she oversaw an array of social services in a multi-state region. Along with the State Attorney General, Burkle Co-Chaired the Nebraska Human Trafficking Task Force. Dr. Burkle holds a doctoral degree in international relations. Her dissertation focused on religious persecution; specifically regarding Iran, Iraq, Sudan, China and Burma (Myanmar).
2019 was a year marked by heightened surveillance and persecution of Christians in China. According to China Aid, Christians living in President XI Jinping’s current regime have experienced more arrests, imprisonments, and church closures than at any other time since Mao’s Cultural Revolution. There were at least 5,576 attacks reported on churches last year, an increase of 171 from the previous year. David Curry, President and CEO of Open Doors USA, stated “The Chinese government is nearly single-handedly responsible for the steep increase in churches and Christian buildings attacked in 2019. The newest policies are penalizing minority Christians in unprecedented ways. If they continue down this path, they will be the single largest violator of human rights worldwide.”
Open Doors Watch List designated China as the 23rd worst country for religious persecution, up from its previous ranking of 27th. However, this ranking cannot completely reflect the government surveillance, social oversight, and oppressive limitations that are constantly increasing on all religions. The report cites examples of persecution such as the banning of online Bible sales, teachers and medical staff being pressured to sign documents saying they have no religious faith, the elderly told that their pensions will be cut off if they didn’t renounce Christianity, pastors being arrested without charges and sentenced to prison, children under the age of 18 being forbidden from attending church, and landlords being pressured to cancel rental contracts with churches.
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