Aid to the Church in Need have launched Persecuted and Forgotten? A report on Christians oppressed for their Faith 2013-2015 in Parliament, accompanied by an endorsement from Prime Minister David Cameron.
He wrote “The persecution of Christians, and indeed individuals of all faiths, anywhere in the world, is of profound concern to me. The freedom to practice, change and share your faith or belief without discrimination or violent opposition is a fundamental human right that all people should enjoy. I believe that societies which aim to guarantee freedom of religion or belief are stronger, fairer and more confident.”
“Every day in countries across the world, Christians are systematically discriminated against, exploited and even driven from their homes because of their faith. No believer should have to live in fear, and this is why this government is committed to promoting religious freedom and tolerance at home and around the world.”
The report assesses the deepening plight of Christians in 22 countries of concern. Drawing on testimony from witnesses of persecution, the report shows why Christians are the world’s most persecuted faith group.
- At a time when numbers of displaced and refugees hit an all-time high, Islamist groups have carried out religiously-motivated ethnic cleansing of Christians notably in parts of Africa and the Middle East. If this continues, the Church’s survival in these regions is threatened.
- The fear of genocide – in many cases well founded – has prompted an exodus of Christians, notably from the Middle East and parts of Africa
- As a result of this exodus, Christianity is on course to disappear from Iraq within possibly five years – unless emergency help is provided on a massively increased scale at an international level
- A massive exodus of Christians in other parts of the Middle East, notably Syria combined with increasing pressures on the faithful in Saudi Arabia and Iran mean that the Church is being silenced and driven out of its ancient biblical heartland
- The rise of militant Islamist groups in Nigeria, Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania and other parts of Africa is destabilising the Christian presence on the one continent which until now has been the Church’s brightest hope for the future
- Christians have been targeted by nationalist religious movements – Muslim, Hindu, Jewish and Buddhist – many of which increasingly see Christianity as a foreign ‘colonial’ import, worthy of suspicion as a result of its perceived links with the West which is seen as corrupt and exploitative
- The decline of Christianity in many countries of concern has potentially profound significance regarding prospects for peace as Christians have traditionally been important ‘peace builders’ in society
- Totalitarian regimes, including China, have put increasing pressures on Christianity which is perceived as a threat not least because of growing ‘underground’ support