Religious freedom is something that should not be taken for granted. Many people around the world are not open to worship the one and true God without repercussion.
Even here in the West, anti-Christian persecution is beginning to creep in, even from our own governments.
That’s why it’s so refreshing to hear that Jeremy Hunt, Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom, has taken action.
He has ordered an independent investigation into the persecution of Christians around the world.
Realizing that the problem has grown exponentially in recent years, Hunt is working painstakingly at protecting the rights of Christians globally.
The Guardian reports:
“The foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has ordered an independent, global review into the persecution of Christians of all nationalities amid claims that not enough is being done to defend the rights of nearly 200 million Christians at risk of persecution today.”
The Foreign Office review led by Rt. Rev. Philip Mounstephen, Bishop of Truro, is looking for applicable solutions to Christian persecution around the world.
Focus will be on the Christian faith, as opposed to those of any religious group being threatened, because Christians are facing the most attacks.
Hunt thought that it was only fitting to direct resources to Christian persecution as well, because it is the United Kingdom’s primary religion. The comprehensive report that is a first of its kind is set to be presented by Easter, according to the Guardian.
A shocking and saddening 3,000 Christians were killed in 2018, double the amount of lives taken in comparison to last year. One could only imagine the growing number of attacks in the years to come if assistance is not provided to those of faith suffering.
Attention was brought to the injustices Christians face through the highly publicized case of Asia Bibi. The Christian mother of five from a small farming village in Ittan Wali, Pakistan spent 8 years on death row for allegedly insulting the Muslim prophet Muhammad.
The Supreme Court of Pakistan acquitted Bibi of her charges months ago, but she is still being held in custody at an unknown location. Authorities claim that her life is at risk by Islamic extremists who still want her dead, according to the Guardian. Bibi’s husband and children are still in hiding as well.
Being a Pakistani Christian in a predominantly Muslim country is not easy, and Bibi’s neighbors from her hometown prove such with their unforgiving hostility toward the peaceful mother.
A 62-year-old farmer from Bibi’s village, named Shawkat Ali was reported by the Christian Post saying, “If the Supreme Court has some faith in religion and if they are Muslims, they should execute her.”
Not offering sanctuary for Bibi and her family, has put the United Kingdom under the microscope when it comes to international Christian support.
Theresa May, Prime Minister of the UK, denies that the government turned the family away, and says that she is working with other countries to find the best solution.
The Guardian reports on PM May’s comments on the issue:
“We could approach this in two ways. We could go out there and say something, just to show that the UK is doing that, or we could ask what is right for Asia Bibi. We are working with others in the international community and with the Pakistani government to ensure that our prime aim – the safety and security of Asia Bibi and her family – is provided for.”
Bibi’s lawyers are working tirelessly for the family to be given asylum in a European or North American country where religious freedom is established. Although many countries have extended a helping hand, no plans have been confirmed as of yet.
Offering assistance to the Christians that need it the most will not be easy with many of the countries’ top offenders being those in which the UK has sensitive diplomatic relations with. The yearly report by Open Doors, surveying countries that persecute Christians, had Iraq, Yemen, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Nigeria, Libya, and India in the top 20.
Britain is no stranger to fighting for religious freedoms, and Hunt’s colleague Lord Ahmad knows this on an intimate level when his family fled India to the UK, because of their faith. He states that religious freedom is a “fundamental human right”, according to The Guardian. Historically, Britain has lent support to Jehovah’s Witnesses and Yazidis as well.
So many believers around the world are being targeted simply for putting their faith and trust in Jesus Christ. Governments that look to false gods see a strong unified religion as a threat to their power, much like the Romans in the time of Jesus’ persecution.
Pope Francis sees the parallels in the church of today and believers of the past, as reported by The Guardian:
“It seems that the cruel and vicious persecution of the Roman empire has not yet ended. A new Nero is always being born to oppress believers solely because of their faith in Christ. Cabals and cliques new and old live by feeding on hatred and hostility to Christ, the church and believers.”
There will be some tough questions broached as Britain compares its ambitions with bureaucracy. However, Hunt seems to be motivated to turn the Christian persecution review into a dedicated plan of action.
Offenses against the Christian faith are reflective of restrictions of individual freedoms in general, and speak to the rising global efforts to increase government control. The review by the foreign office will not only face a growing concern, but will shed light onto an intrinsic right being violated to the highest degree.
Please let us know in the comments section how you see the problem of global Christian persecution being addressed.
And please pray that this investigation will be fruitful and lead to real action to prevent further persecution against our fellow believers.