One of the closest allies of the USA in the Middle East is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The USA has long been an ally and friend to the Saud family who rule the important desert (and oil) nation. Sadly, this means that that nation has long turned a blind eye to the many human rights abuses taking place within the Muslim nation – particularly crimes against Christians.

We’ve recently had another example of the dangerous climate of hate that Christians in Saudi Arabia have to deal with.

Fox News is reporting that a group of at least 28 Christians (including women and children) were recently arrested while meeting at the home of one of the congregants, and that none of them have been heard from since.

Islamist (religious) police stormed a prayer meeting in the city of Khafji and arrested every member of the congregation while also taking their Bibles. This is just the most recent event in a string of attacks upon the local Christian communities. Saudi Arabia’s Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice has been working overtime to persecute all non-Muslim minorities and other “undesirables” in recent days.

Akhbar 24, an Arabic language news channel, reported that the arrests came after the religious police got a tip about the home-based church. In Saudi Arabia it is a crime for a Muslim to become an apostate, or leave Islam. It is also illegal for members of other faiths to proselytize, to try and spread their faith, or to even practice their religion openly. This includes Christians and Jews. A judge can hand down a sentence of death to apostates and harsh hard-labor sentences to people caught practicing other faiths.

The director of the Washington-based Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious freedom told Fox News, “Saudi Arabia is continuing the religious cleansing that has always been its official policy. It is the only nation state in the world with the official policy of banning all churches. This is enforced even though there are over 2 million Christian foreign workers in that country. Those victimized are typically poor, from Asian and African countries with weak governments… The West should demand that its strategic ally, Saudi Arabia, release the Christians at once and allow them to pray according to their own faith traditions. Otherwise, Riyadh will appear to be validating the practices of the Islamic State in northern Iraq and Syria.”

US Representative Frank Wolf (R-VA) has said that he will ask the US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia to try to help the Christians who were arrested. “I hope our government will speak up,” Wolf said.

It is beyond ridiculous that our leaders do not do more to promote religious freedom around the planet. They often give lip service to religious freedom while in their travels around the globe – but they don’t do much more than that. In fact, our actions speak much louder than our words. While we chastise certain nations (like Saudi Arabia) for their aversion to religious liberty… we still pour billions of dollars into their coffers. The hypocrisy that exists in our dealings with these religiously intolerant nations is disgusting.

Years ago the nations of the West embargoed all dealings with South Africa because of their racist apartheid policies. I would argue that what is happening in Saudi Arabia (and other Muslim and atheist nations) is as evil and corrupt as apartheid. Yet, we do not hesitate to work hand in hand with these morally bankrupt nations. By so doing – their sin becomes our sin.