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03 February 2015

Future of global Christian community is uncertain, MPs warned

Future of global Christian community is uncertain, MPs warned

Parliamentarians were given a "harrowing" report on the future of Christianity in the Middle East following the recent increase in persecution.

More than 60 MPs and Peers attended the crucial discussion at Westminster last week regarding the breadth of persecution, hearing stories of recent attacks by Islamic extremists, including recent events in Paris and Nigeria, which they heard are part of a wider trend highlighted in a key report from Alliance member Open Doors.

MPs were left in no doubt of the severity of the situation, following evidence presented at the meeting of the rise of Islamic extremism in places like Nigeria, Kenya, Iraq and Syria, with "dramatic implications for the future of the global Christian community".  

With 60 years' experience of working in this field, Open Doors added its weight to the recommendation that the government appoint a UK special envoy for freedom of religion or belief as a visible indication of the UK's commitment to promoting and protecting this important right.

The Evangelical Alliance are formally launching the Religious Liberty Commission tomorrow in parliament, of which Open Doors are a member, and will also call for the government to introduce a special envoy to tackle this persecution.

Baroness Anelay, Minister for Human Rights at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, urged those at the meeting to take immediate action. "This report is a harrowing read, and makes us understand the true meaning of how one has to be so courageous in so many places to have a faith. There's a long way to go, but we all have a role to ensure freedom of religion is ensured for all people."

Open Doors also appealed to MPs to ensure that there is an effective and robust foreign policy in place to foster and protect freedom of religion. The charity urged the UK government to pay close attention to the constitutional, legal and cultural sources of persecution –noting early warning signs such as changes in law or jurisprudence, as well as overt violence. 

Commenting on the presentations made, Edward Leigh MP declared: "The truth is that the overwhelming path, strength, and intensity of religious persecution in the world is on Christians. This is a crisis of the world that the UK government must concentrate on."

Tomorrow the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby will be launching the RLC, introducing the new partnership of organisations that have been galvanised by the growing problem of religious cleansing and violent attacks against Christians.

The RLC is a commission of the Evangelical Alliance comprising of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Release International and Open Doors UK.

The RLC launch will take place in the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft, Palace of Westminster.

The Archbishop will be giving the keynote address.

Image: Open Doors. Parliamentarians at meeting.