U.K. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt wrote an opinion editorial published in The Telegraph in which he as Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs warned that political correctness is hindering Christians from being helped in the Middle East, where they are “on the verge of extinction”. This is not the first time an important English official has come out in favour of persecuted Christians; in 2018 there were a number of promising statements and actions from political and religious leaders in the UK.
There have been some encouraging happenings in the United Kingdom in 2018, regarding the phenomenon of the persecution of Christians. As we reported earlier, a British Muslim politician and businessman, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon had been appointed as the UK’s first Special Envoy on Freedom of Religion or Belief. The British government declared that the role “will promote the UK’s firm stance on religious tolerance abroad, helping to tackle religious discrimination in countries where minority faith groups face persecution”.
Following the appointment, during this past year important personalities such as Prince Charles, the duke of Cornwall and the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby have spoken out, during this past year, in support of those who are persecuted for their Christian faith.
This Christmas U.K. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt wrote an opinion editorial published in The Telegraph, in which he warned, that political correctness is hindering Christians from being helped in the Middle East. He went on to say that,
Christians in that region – once the cradle of Christianity, are “on the verge of extinction”.
“Yesterday, my family and I walked a short journey to our local church and enjoyed an uplifting Christmas service” – wrote Mr. Hunt. “We attend [church] as a simple matter of personal choice, but since being appointed Foreign Secretary, it has struck me how much we take that choice for granted: others around the world are facing death, torture and imprisonment for that very right.”
Hunt also lamented the fact that there is only a trace of Christians now in the birthplace of Christianity in the Middle East, which is now dominated by Islam and its adherents.
“It is distressingly poignant at Christmas to hear recent warnings that the persecution facing Christians across the globe is now most stark in the region of its birth,” Hunt continued.
With Islamic terrorist groups – such as ISIS in Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Palestinian-occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip in Israel – declaring war on Christianity in the Middle East, most believers have been dispersed outside of the Middle East.
“The Islamic State terror group, in particular, has forced multitudes of believers to flee the region in the past several years, with many unlikely to return,” The Christian Post (CP) reported.
“A century ago, 20 percent of the people of the Middle East were Christian; today the figure is below 5 percent,” Hunt divulged in a piece published on the U.K. government’s website. “It is not hard to see why. On Palm Sunday in 2017, a suicide bomber in Egypt attacked a Christian Cathedral that has existed since the inception of Christianity, brutally killing 17 of the congregation. This is an extreme example, but it is by no means isolated.”
He went on to describe Christian persecution in Iraq – another Middle Eastern nation where Christians are not welcome.
“Last week, I met an Iraqi doctor who told me how patients had threatened her and her family with beheading when they heard she was a Christian who refused to convert,” Hunt added. “Step by agonizing step, we are witnessing the erosion of Christianity as a living religion in its heartland.”
It was then explained that targeting and punishing Christians for their beliefs is by no means contained in the Middle East, noting that Open Doors divulged that 215 million Christians are currently being persecuted around the world, while sharing that the International Society for Human Rights revealed that Christians experience 80 percent of all religious discrimination.
“Like the Christian family I met recently who were accused of blasphemy in Pakistan; they told me how extremists targeted them, attacked their young sons by ripping school uniforms off their bodies, and shot at the mother,” Hunt shared. “There were striking parallels with the case of Asia Bibi – a Christian Pakistani woman who was beaten, imprisoned, and, despite being acquitted, still lives under constant guard because of the threat of mob justice – whose plight has moved the hearts of the British public.”
As the U.K. has been inundated by terrorist attacks due to its tolerance of Islam, its government has also fought for Christians’ liberty for some time.
“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 for Freedom of Religion or Belief,” Hunt pointed out. “So often, the persecution of Christians is a telling early warning sign of the persecution of every minority, but I am not convinced that our response to the threats facing this particular group has always matched the scale of the problem – nor taken account of the hard evidence that Christians often endure a disproportionate burden of persecution. Perhaps this is borne out of the very British sense of awkwardness at ‘doing God’.
Perhaps it’s an awareness of our colonial history, or because Britain is a traditionally Christian country some are fearful of being seen to help Christians in desperate need.”
He then blamed “misguided political correctness” for getting in the way of protecting Christians and people of other faiths before asking some tough questions and offering recommendations to change problematic policies.
“Britain has – in my view – the best diplomatic network in the world, so how can we use that to encourage countries to provide proper security for minority groups under threat?” Hunt asked.
“Have we been generous enough in offering practical assistance, and does the level of U.K. support match the scale of the suffering? Have we always got our foreign policy priorities right, in terms of advocating for and expressing solidarity with this group?”
He noted how Prince Charles, the Archbishop of Canterbury and British Parliament have addressed the problem of Christian persecution numerous times, but insisted that something more must be done in the U.K.
“But with Christianity on the verge of extinction in its birthplace, it is time for concerted action that begins to turn the tide,” Hunt asserted. “Britain has a strong history of standing up for the rights of all religious communities. I am proud of the way the U.K. has led the world in condemnation of the ethnic cleansing of the Muslim Rohingya community in Burma; as well as our response of passionate anger to the recent resurgence of anti-Semitism in our own society.”
He called upon Britons to stand up for what their ancestors have relentlessly fought for over the centuries.
“It is not in our national character to turn a blind eye to suffering,” Hunt insisted.
“All religious minorities must be protected and the evidence demonstrates that in some countries, Christians face the greatest risk. We should be willing to state that simple fact – and adjust our policies accordingly.”
He then incited Britons to action by Paul’s words.“It is time to echo that message of hope to the persecuted Church around the world; with our deeds, as well as our words,” Hunt concluded.
Sources: The Telegraph, One News Now
Photo: Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby (centre, front row) are joined by some survivors of Christian persecution (BBC.com)