29 March 2016
Freedom of religion or belief must be at centre of foreign policy
Following the Easter attack on a children's park in Pakistan the Religious Liberty Commission (RLC) of the Evangelical Alliance is calling on the British government to act immediately to enshrine freedom of religion or belief in all UK foreign policy.
The RLC is made up of the following Alliance member organisations: Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Open Doors, and Release International.
With the Lahore bombings in mind, which deliberately targeted Christians, and the many other atrocities carried out around the world against people of faith, the RLC calls on the British government to greatly increase the status of freedom of religion or belief across all foreign policy in recognition of the essential role it plays in underpinning other human rights and civil liberties.
The RLC is also calling on the government to substantially increase the capacity of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in this vital work of promoting and defending freedom of religion or belief around the world. Much has been done to secure freedoms and challenge injustice, but so much more could be achieved with an increase in staff and resources.
Alongside developing practical policies to ensure respect for freedom of religion or belief internationally, the enhanced capacity of the FCO should also include an extensive drive to develop religious literacy across government departments.
Sunday's tragic events in Lahore highlight the persecution that Christians are currently facing in many countries, including North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Nigeria. And though Christians are the most persecuted faith community in the world they are not alone in facing persecution.
RLC spokesman, Dr David Landrum says: "At a time when so many parts of the world are experiencing oppression by those who wish to deny or destroy religious freedom, our hope is that Britain can strengthen its record of promoting human rights by placing freedom of religion or belief at the heart of foreign policy."
The RLC welcomed the prime minister's Easter message calling for the defence of Christian values in the face of terrorism.
"It is heartening that Mr Cameron has acknowledged the suffering of the Christian Church across the world," says David Landrum. "We are encouraged that he recognises that religious freedom is a fundamental right for everyone, and is an essential part of a free society, and we hope that this recognition will be expressed strongly in foreign policy."
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Notes to Editors
The Evangelical Alliance
We are the largest and oldest body representing the UK's two million evangelical Christians. For 170 years, we have been bringing Christians together and helping them listen to, and be heard by, the government, media and society. We're here to connect people for a shared mission, whether it's celebrating the Bible, making a difference in our communities or lobbying the government for a better society. From Skye to Southampton, from Coleraine to Cardiff, we work across 79 denominations, more than 3,600 churches, 600 organisations and thousands of individual members. And we're not just uniting Christians within the UK – we are a founding member of the World Evangelical Alliance, a global network of more than 600 million evangelical Christians. For more information, go to www.eauk.org.
The Religious Liberty Commission
The persecution of Christians worldwide has become such a significant issue that Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Open Doors and Release International have joined together to form the Religious Liberty Commission.
The Religious Liberty Commission (RLC) is a commission of the Evangelical Alliance that brings organisations working on behalf of persecuted Christians together to speak with one voice. Each member organisation has its own distinctive mandate, but all feel the issue of Christian persecution is so important they want to speak together regularly to raise awareness of key developments globally, ina significant and collaborative way. Visit www.eauk.org/rlc.