Advocacy Campaign FAQs
What is Advocacy and why do we do it?
God commands us to 'seek justice' (Isaiah 1:17). Campaigning is one way to work for justice on behalf of the persecuted church using the freedoms you enjoy here to be their voice.
We recommend a standard 'sign off' in letters to Ambassadors/High Commissioners that are part of our campaigns. We advise supporters to use only their name (First name and Surname) and their country on their letters. This is a precautionary measure – we do not know if Embassies/High Commissions keep a record of addresses and we would not wish to jeopardise people's chances of obtaining a visa to travel in the future.
Where we believe this is not a risk, we will make it clear in the campaign that you can provide your full address.
Writing to MPs is different. The MP will want to know that you are one of their constituents, and should treat your details confidentially.
If you can take the time to write in your own words, it will make your letter stand out from the standard template. You are able to make changes to the letter while you are on the website.
If you want time to think about the content of the letter in order to personalise it, then when you are taking part in the campaign on the website, opt to have a Word document emailed to your inbox for you to print off and post. This gives you the option of making changes to the Word document off-line and in your own time before you print it off (or write it by hand if you have time) and post it to the address printed on the top of the letter.
Again, this makes your letter stand out from printed letters. This is particularly the case when you write to Members of Parliament/European Parliament.
Yes, if you proceed through the campaign you will come to a page specially designated for this purpose. Please note that this page has been designed to make this as quick and easy for you as possible. On the page it says "Feel free to change the message below to your friend but note that each friend's name is automatically input. Please do not change the web link or the tag for your friend's name." The software will automatically insert the names of your friends, therefore enabling you to alert any number of friends at the same time.
It may be that you have not entered your postcode in a format that our software system recognizes. Make sure you separate the two parts of your postcode and always use letters and numbers appropriately. If you do this and still receive an error message, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with details so that we can assist.
No, there is no need for you to send a copy to us. As long as you follow the guidelines provided for each campaign, your letter will be fine. Then follow the mailing instructions, which may offer an option to email immediately but more usually ask you to post your letter direct.
Many campaigns have a long-term focus and we need to take a correspondingly long-term view on achieving ultimate goals. A classic example of this would be the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade: William Wilberforce persistently and regularly introduced motions in Parliament for eighteen years before 'success'.
Measuring the success of campaigns can be difficult. The ultimate goal would be that a Christian is released from prison or that laws which limit Christian activities are abolished. On the way to these ultimate goals there are other successes, such as increased awareness of those with political power about the plight of Christians, improving treatment/respect of Christians in their current situation, and generating increased prayer is essential as well.
One of our 2008 campaigns was for the Church in Algeria. Thousands of supporters got behind Open Doors' campaign, and worldwide other organisations also spoke up about the situation. Our combined voices made a difference and this was confirmed by reports Open Doors received from co-workers in Algeria. Within a short period of time, churches stopped being ordered to close and although some Christians were prosecuted they only received suspended sentences.
In 2011 things have once again got difficult. Partly because of the success of the campaign in 2008, church leaders in Algeria once again asked to come to the UK. Open Doors arranged a meeting at the Foreign Office and a briefing at Parliament. These meetings resulted in MPs producing written questions in Parliament to the Foreign Secretary, writing to the Foreign Office and tabling an Early Day Motion on Religious Freedom in Algeria. The meetings in Parliament were really positive and all the attending MPs were highly engaged by the issues raised. Furthermore, the Algerian Church leaders were incredibly grateful for all the emails that supporters sent to their MPs and also the Algerian Ambassador, and firmly believed that they made an impact.
Finally, we are convinced that God can achieve great things on behalf of the persecuted church through our efforts. We offer up our loaves and fish and ask God to multiply and use them according to His good purposes. That is what He commands us to do.
Getting all the background information we need from the field and setting up the campaign means that we can only focus on a selection of the situations of injustice for Christians around the world. We simply do not have the resources to respond to every one - and sometimes our colleagues in the field advise us that a public campaign might do more harm than good. But there is nothing to stop you voicing your concern about any incident to the Ambassador of the relevant country.
Keep your letter polite; do not mention Open Doors at all, and especially as the source of your information (say ‘I understand it has been reported that...); make no derogatory remarks about any other religions; ask the Ambassador to pass on your concerns to his/her government and request that you are told what response the government plans to make.
Our ministry is guided by the requests for help from leaders of the persecuted church and our field staff. Our co-workers in the Field are able to provide us with information of injustices which they want us to speak up about and we have found that many of our supporters want to speak up about them too.
Open Doors has been doing advocacy for several years but since 2008 we have taken a more intentional approach. Advocacy is seen as a positive and vital part of Open Doors overall ministry, making it more complete, more biblical and more effective in highlighting and challenging violations of the right to freedom of religion or belief.