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New Prime Minister Boris Johnson has committed to support persecuted Christians

As Boris Johnson has now been announced as the next Prime Minister of the UK, Open Doors is pleased that he has already committed to prioritising religious freedoms around the world, and urge him to deliver on this promised support. 

 

Henrietta Blyth, CEO of Open Doors UK and Ireland, says “I am delighted that Boris Johnson said that he would ‘prioritise protecting religious freedoms’ as Prime Minister and that he ‘would stand up for those facing persecution’. I look forward to seeing quick action to deliver greater protection for religious minorities.

“Open Doors is committed to working with all politicians to ensure that real and meaningful change is delivered to persecuted Christians through the implementation of the recommendations of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s review into the persecution of Christians abroad.”

There is consensus for this commitment across the political spectrum, with shadow Foreign Office minister Liz McInnes voicing the shadow cabinet's support for the review commissioned by the Foreign Office. She also urged the Government to consider two of Open Doors' three recommendations (below) - calling on the Foreign Office to recognise priority countries where Christians are persecuted (noting the need for increased capacity in Nigeria) and for the role of PM’s Envoy on Freedom of Religion or Belief to be made an expanded, permanent role. 

We urge Prime Minister Boris Johnson to actively support our persecuted brothers and sisters. With a probable cabinet shuffle ahead, it's crucial that this topic remains on the agenda. Please do continue to contact your local MP to highlight the issue.

 

UPDATE: FOREIGN OFFICE REVIEW INTO CHRISTIAN PERSECUTION OFFICIALLY LAUNCHED

16 July 2019

The Bishop of Truro’s report into the UK Government’s response to Christian persecution worldwide was published last week and formally launched on 15 July. Henrietta Blyth, CEO of Open Doors UK and Ireland, was among those who attended the launch, at which speakers included Lord Tariq Ahmad, the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief, and the Bishop of Truro, Bishop Mounstephen. Below, Henrietta speaks with Archbishop Angaelos, Coptic Orthodox Archbishop of London, about the implications of the report and what you can do for your persecuted family.

Lord Ahmad pointed out in his speech that the situation has significantly worsened for Christians in some countries in recent years: there were 35,000 Christians in Mosul, Iraq before the so-called Islamic State invaded, and now there are only 40.

The Bishop of Truro was keen to emphasise that this persecution was a global phenomenon with multiple causes, “even though there are many who would like to attribute it to one cause alone – and to do that is to seriously underestimate and undervalue the nature of the problem”. 

A welcome step is the dedication of £12 million from the Department for International Development budget to address the problem in key countries.

“We can no longer say that this is a sidebar issue for a special interest group,” Bishop Mounstephen added. “The time for inaction and indifference is over.”

We certainly agree. Now that the report has been launched, it’s important to maintain the momentum. Open Doors has highlighted three key recommendations that we’re asking of the UK Government.

You can lend your voice to these recommendations by contacting your local MP. This is an important way to stand with your persecuted brothers and sisters worldwide. The time for action is now.

 

OPEN DOORS WELCOMES FINDINGS OF FOREIGN OFFICE REVIEW INTO UK GOVERNMENT SUPPORT FOR PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS WORLDWIDE

8 July 2019

As the persecution of Christians across the world continues to rise at a shocking rate, Open Doors has welcomed the Bishop of Truro’s Independent Review for the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office into how the UK government can better support persecuted Christians worldwide.

Henrietta Blyth, CEO of Open Doors UK and Ireland, said: “The UK Government must act now. It must focus attention on the countries where persecution is most severe and where the situation is rapidly deteriorating. Christian persecution is not a party political issue. We believe that the Prime Ministerial post of Special Envoy on Freedom of Religion or Belief should be a permanent role so that its existence is not subject to any political agenda. This will also ensure that persecuted Christians are rightly placed at the heart of government decisions on trade and aid.”

Read Open Doors’ three policy asks of the UK government

Open Doors produces the World Watch List every year, ranking the 50 countries in the world where the persecution of Christians is most extreme. North Korea has been number 1 since 2002. Pakistan, India, China and Nigeria are all on the list. The data also helps to identify countries like India and Nepal where the persecution of Christians is increasing dramatically. Recently, Pastor Kuldeep was brutally attacked while praying on the verandah of his house in rural India. He was rushed to hospital and barely survived. “You have converted! You are against our gods!” his attackers said. Pastor Kuldeep had faced accusations like this before but the violent attack on him was unprecedented. Thirty years after his conversion from Hinduism to Christianity, Kuldeep says he does not feel safe. “India has certainly changed a lot,” he said.

Give to help the world’s most persecuted Christians survive

Henrietta Blyth welcomed the Review itself saying: “I believe that freedom of religion or belief is one of the major issues of our time. This review is a good first step to addressing this. For it to be effective it must deliver real, tangible and lasting change for those suffering persecution.”

Open Doors estimates that 245 million Christians face high levels of persecution in 2019. This is an increase from 215 million in 2018 – showing that the situation is deteriorating rapidly.

Henrietta Blyth added: “Persecution is a global problem. Governments must act to enforce Article 18 of the Declaration of Human Rights - the freedom to choose a religion or belief or to choose no religion or belief. This is not about politics, it’s about freedom. Sadly, in many countries Christianity is criminalised and there are thousands of Christians locked up because of their faith. Many are tortured. It’s wrong.”

Give to support Christians living in the top 10 countries on the World Watch List

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Pray

  • That the Foreign Office will respond positively to Open Doors’ recommendations and take bold action to improve the lives of persecuted Christians across the world
  • That the persecution of Christians and other religious minorities will continue to be a priority for future foreign secretaries and decision makers
  • That the review will bring about real and lasting change for our brothers and sisters across the world