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Wednesday, December 26, 2018

A Christian perspective?

As encouraging as it is to see UK Ministers introducing an ethical dimension into foreign policy, the announcement that there is to be an independent inquiry into the persecution of Christians around the world raises more questions than it answers.

The Independent reports that the foreign secretary has admitted that the UK should be doing more to help. He has appointed the Bishop of Truro, Rt Reverend Philip Mounstephen, to carry out the investigation, which will look into how Britain could improve its work overseas. The review is due to report by Easter, and will assess threats to Christians in countries in Asia, Africa and the Middle East:

It was launched after what officials described as a dramatic rise in the oppression of Christians in a number of countries.

The government estimates that 215 million Christians across the world face persecution because of their religious beliefs. Last year, 3,000 were killed because of their faith.

The review will look at how the government can help protect Christians in the same way it does other minorities, including the Yazidi people who faced brutal persecution by Isis in Iraq and Syria.

Announcing the inquiry, Mr Hunt said: “Britain has long championed international religious freedom, and the prime minister underlined our global leadership on this issue when she appointed my excellent colleague Lord Ahmad as her special envoy on freedom of religion or belief. So often the persecution of Christians is a telling early warning sign of the persecution of every minority.

This is very important of course, but the first question that springs to mind is, why just Christians?  There are a number of minorities around the world being persecuted for their beliefs, who follow other religions. Wouldn't it be better if the review was to look at how the UK could help alleviate the persecution of all religious minorities.

The other important question of course, and one which must surely test the sincerity of Ministers on this issue, revolves around the treatment of asylum seekers. If they are really concerned with helping persecuted Christians, isn't it about time that they started being more sympathetic to those presenting themselves to our authorities after fleeing torture and possible death in their own country? And that should apply to other religions too.
Any such efforts should also of course apply to those who choose not to believe in any particular religious persuasion who are also persecuted and murdered, in the name of one or another dominant religion,in various countries.
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