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.
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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.”
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Your gift today can help the world’s most persecuted Christians survive
- 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