Our magazine, while continuing its coverage of China, will open a new section with news and comments on worldwide religious liberty issues. We need your support.
by Massimo Introvigne and Marco Respinti
In May 2018, CESNUR, the Center for Studies on New Religions, started Bitter Winter, a daily magazine about religious liberty in China. There were several features that made it a new, ambitious project. First, the team we assembled included professional journalists but also academic scholars of religion. Second, while there were valuable magazines covering the persecution of mainline religions in China, we also focused on new religious movements—CESNUR’s specialty. Third, we based our magazine not only on wire agencies and (mostly Chinese) news media but also on reports and documents received directly from the persecuted and from activists and citizen journalists in China (some of whom were arrested for their cooperation with Bitter Winter, and indeed the pressure on them is increasing).
In two years and a half, we achieved a lot. For two years in a row, in 2019 and 2020, Bitter Winter was the most quoted source in the China section of the U.S. Department of State reports on religious freedom (in 2020, we were quoted 74 times, more than any other media outlet). Other governmental reports also quoted us extensively.
We believe we powerfully contributed to demonstrate that China is an egregious violator of religious liberty. But China is far from being alone. Many have asked CESNUR to offer, together with its academic publications intended for scholars (including The Journal of CESNUR), information in the shape of shorter articles that would be more easily readable for the general public—but still scholarly-level accurate—about violations of religious liberty throughout the world.
Rather than starting yet another publication, after consulting friends and colleagues, we decided to expand the coverage of Bitter Winter, making it international. We will still offer ground-breaking coverage of human rights and religious freedom issues in China, but we will also include news about abuses of religious liberty throughout the world. As CESNUR, we will pay special attention to new religious movements and marginalized minorities. But religious liberty is indivisible, and we will speak out for all those persecuted for their faith or belief.
We are committed to maintain Bitter Winter as a leading, unique reliable source of information about religious freedom. And we are extremely excited about the new international section of Bitter Winter, to be launched on December 1, 2020.
We ask for the support of our readers. We know our main asset is their loyalty and trust. Yet, we also need their economical support. While our journalists are volunteers, we do have operational costs. And the cost of translations was so huge that we have now discontinued all the non-English editions of Bitter Winter, although we maintain the corresponding Web sites as archives including thousands of valuable articles.
We do understand that the current status of world economy is not favorable to donations. But we still trust our readers can spare a few euros or dollars to support our unique magazine and religious liberty. Donating through PayPal takes just three minutes, and you do not even need to be registered with PayPal to support us. We need you, your three minutes, and your support.