Earlier this week in Parliament at least 74 MPs attended the launch of the Open Doors report, Freedom of Religion and the Persecution of Christians, highlighting the scale and severity of persecution faced by Christians around the world.
MPs heard from Dr. Ron Boyd-MacMillan (Director of Strategic Trends and Research for Open Doors International) and FCO Minister for Human Rights Baroness Anelay, as well as Nigerian Pastor Rev Daniel Awayi, who described life in the shadow of Boko Haram.
Baroness Anelay, Minister for Human Rights at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, said “This report is a harrowing read, and makes us understand the true meaning of how one has to be so courageous in so many places to have a faith. There’s a long way to go, but we all have a role to ensure freedom of religion is ensured for all people.”
Urging MPs to act Dr. Ron Boyd-MacMillan warned, “There’s a rising tide of antagonism against Christians all around the world, and it’s getting harder to be a Christian everywhere.”
Over 6,000 Open Doors’ supporters had sent an invitation to their MP to attend the event, which was hosted by Naomi Long MP, who reflected, “This report puts in perspective the scale and the difficulties of the issue of persecution against Christians around the world.”
Open Doors appealed to MPs to ensure that there is an effective and robust foreign policy in place to foster and protect freedom of religion. The charity urged the UK government to pay close attention to the constitutional, legal and cultural sources of persecution – noting early warning signs such as changes in law or jurisprudence, as well as overt violence.
In particular, the report presented to MPs today highlighted the gender dimension of persecution: the double-vulnerability of female Christians who often face discrimination based on both their gender and their religion. Open Doors called on policy makers to explore the value and impact of raising freedom of religion or belief as a dimension of women’s rights.
The charity publish this annual, detailed research tracking trends and severity of global persecution against Christians, in order to ensure MPs remain informed of the extent and severity of the situation facing Christians and to recommend ways in which to tackle it.