REUTERS / TOBY MELVILLE
An estimated one-third of the world’s population suffers from religious persecution in some form, with 80 percent of them being Christian, the report claimed. The findings tally with research conducted by other religious advocacy groups.
The UK government should be prepared to impose sanctions against countries persecuting Christians, a report by Philip Mounstephen, bishop of Truro, commissioned by the Foreign Office has recommended.
The report was commissioned directly by foreign secretary and Conservative party leadership candidate Jeremy Hunt to examine the extent and nature of Christian persecution and assess the UK government’s response – he has said he’d enact all the recommendations if he became prime minister, and agrees with the report’s conclusion Christians were the most persecuted religious group in the world.
London should also adopt a definition of anti-Christian discrimination and persecution similar to those already applied to Islamophobia and antisemitism, the report says, with Whitehall staff, both in the UK and overseas, given mandatory training in religious literacy in order to equip them to understand the scale and significance of the issue.
Very grateful to @pmounstephen for his excellent but shocking report on state of Christian persecution worldwide. Hundreds of Christians are killed every month for their faith. Political correctness has for too long stopped us speaking out – no longer https://t.co/470oKYKGhf
— Jeremy Hunt (@Jeremy_Hunt) July 8, 2019
Its findings were endorsed by charity Open Doors, which monitors Christian persecution around the world – the body estimates on average each month 345 Christians are killed for faith-related issues. In all, 245 million Christians face persecution with one in three Asian Christians face persecution.
Open Doors produces the World Watch List every year, ranking the 50 countries in the world where the persecution of Christians is most extreme. Pakistan, India, China and Nigeria are all on the list, with the data suggesting persecution of Christians in India and Nepa 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. 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.
“It must focus attention on the countries where persecution is most severe and where the situation is rapidly deteriorating. I believe 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. In many countries Christianity is criminalised and there are thousands of Christians locked up because of their faith. Many are tortured. It’s wrong,” Open Doors Henrietta Blyth said.
The report also found Christian persecution had “multiple drivers” and as such “it deserves special attention”, given it has become “a bellwether for repression” since if Christians are discriminated against in one context or another, “you can be confident other minorities are too”.