One hundred million people: that's how many died under the oppression of Communism.
Those victims have too often been ignored by much of the Western press—especially by members of the media who were sympathetic with the Communist ideology. But on Tuesday, the victims were remembered—and a Washington park was dedicated to their memory.
It's called the Victims of Communism Memorial Park. Rising above the park grounds is the statue of a woman, her arms lifting a torch aloft. It's a replica of the Goddess of Democracy statue carried by anti-Communist demonstrators in Tiananmen Square 18 years ago.
The statue and park are monuments to more than just a failed and fading ideology.
Conservative scholar Lee Edwards, who, along with former Ambassador Lev Dobriansky, came up with the idea for the memorial, says its purpose is not only to create the world's first memorial to all of Communism's victims, but also to honor those who resisted communism—sometimes at the cost of their lives. These include people like Vaclav Havel, Lech Walesa, Pope John Paul II, Father Jerzy Popieluszko, and Ronald Reagan.
As I write in my new book, God and Government, Christians and Jews were particular targets of atheistic communist regimes. They were hated because they owed allegiance to the one power greater than the totalitarian Communist state.
Christianity and communism have always clashed because they are irreconcilable in their basic premises. Each, in one sense, is a religion and each is inherently expansive and evangelistic.
Before the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Marxist Leninism functioned as a religion in the lives of the faithful. It offered a comprehensive explanation of reality and claimed to put adherents in touch with higher powers—namely, the inexorable laws of history.
Its eschatology is millennial. At the end of the class struggle against capitalism lies the classless society where exploiters are banished, the state withers away, and man's natural goodness flows forth. The laws of history will bring justice to the oppressed and wipe away every tear.
Communist leaders recognized then, and do today in Cuba, China and elsewhere, that a renewed and purified Christianity was the only force that could move the masses as powerfully as the Marxist ideal could. So they attacked Christianity as the enemy that it was—and still is—to communism.
Even today, not everyone recognizes communism as an evil system. That's why, as President Bush noted at Monday's memorial, "We have an obligation to future generations to record the crimes of the twentieth century and ensure that they're never repeated . . . Evil is real and must be confronted . . .Given the chance, men commanded by harsh and hateful ideologies will commit unspeakable crimes and take the lives of millions."
Indeed, communist oppression of Christians goes on in North Korea, China, Cuba, and elsewhere. And we are witnessing the rise of Islamo-fascist repression around the world, just as evil as communism.
You and I need to be praying both for those who still suffer under communism and for those who languish under Islam. They are false gods, as I argue in my book.
Communism's 100 million victims are a tragic reminder that we must stand up to tyranny in all its forms and we must never retreat.
From BreakPoint®, June 21, 2007, Copyright 2007, Prison Fellowship Ministries. Reprinted with the permission of Prison Fellowship Ministries. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or distributed without the express written permission of Prison Fellowship Ministries. "BreakPoint®" and "Prison Fellowship Ministries®" are registered trademarks of Prison Fellowship Ministries