Though the liberal media rarely reports on it, there has been a sharp rise in persecution against Christians in certain locales around the world.
Whether it be the oppression of underground Christian churches in communist China, ideological prosecution for “blasphemy” against Islam in central Asian nations like Pakistan or horrific and brutal violence against them in Middle Eastern nations, Christians are indeed being persecuted in disturbing numbers.
However, while the media may ignore what is happening to Christians in places where they constitute a religious minority, that distressing plight has not gone unnoticed by U.K. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who just urged his nation to “do more” to address the increasingly dire situation.
Sky News reported that experts recently estimated that some 215 million Christians worldwide faced discrimination, persecution and violence in 2017 due to their religious beliefs, part of a “dramatic rise in violence” against Christians that left an average of 250 of them murdered every month.
Hunt said that the U.K. “can and must do more” to help and ordered that a special independent review be conducted into the matter, a review that would be overseen by the Bishop of Truro, the Rt. Rev. Philip Mountstephen.
The review will reportedly include three primary goals: mapping out the “key countries” where persecution of Christians was taking place in Africa, Asia and the Middle East; providing an “objective analysis” of what sort of support the U.K. government could offer; and providing the government with recommendations for a “cohesive and comprehensive policy response.”
“Britain has long championed international religious freedom and the Prime Minister underlined our global leadership on this issue when she appointed my excellent colleague Lord Ahmad as her Special Envoy on Freedom of Religion or belief,” Hunt said. “So often the persecution of Christians is a telling early warning sign of the persecution of every minority.”
“Today I have asked the Bishop of Truro to look at how the British Government can better respond to the plight of persecuted Christians around the world,” he added. “We can and must do more.”
Mountstephen seemed pleased to have been tapped by the foreign secretary to chair the review, as it was centered on “an issue close to my heart.”
“Part of the Christmas story tells how Jesus was himself the victim of persecution, so it seems particularly timely to launch this review at this season,” Mountstephen said. “I’ll be taking an objective look at how the British Government can better respond to the pressing plight of persecuted Christians around the world.”
Though it is but one case among many others, the current plight of persecuted and prosecuted Pakistani Christian Asia Bibi appears to be one impetus for the British government’s review of the widespread persecution of Christians in countries where they are the minority.
Eight years ago Bibi had been found guilty of blasphemy against Islam and sentenced to death for that crime. Her conviction was recently overturned by the Pakistani Supreme Court, however, and she is now being held in “protective custody” by the Pakistani government due to outraged protests and threats against her life by the nation’s Muslim majority.
There are reportedly a number of nations currently negotiating with Pakistan to secure her release for a grant of asylum. However, the U.K. is not one of them, perhaps out of fear of how such an offer would play with the substantial Muslim population that now lives in the U.K.
The decision by the U.K. government not to extend an offer of asylum to Bibi drew sharp criticism from the U.K.’s previous foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, who said, “we cannot allow the threat of violence to deter us from doing the right thing.”
He added that Bibi and others who share her plight had an “overwhelming claim for compassion from the British government.”
It remains to be seen what sort of conclusions and recommendations are reached by the official review, not to mention what — if any — actions are taken by the U.K. government to address the plight of persecuted Christians around the globe.
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