The United Kingdom wants to build an international coalition of countries to address the persecution of Christians around the world, its Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said at the launch of an independent review of the issue today, 30 January, in London.
Hunt announced the initiative of an independent review into Christian persecution and what the British government is doing globally in response, on 26 December. He has asked the Bishop of Truro, Philip Mounstephen, to chair it.
The Foreign Secretary, a Christian himself, said he wanted to do this “not just because freedom of worship is a fundamental human right, but because also freedom of worship is the invisible line between open societies and closed societies”.
He added that evidence shows that 80 per cent of the people suffering religious persecution are Christians, mostly living in the global South.
“We sometimes think that when it comes to the rights of Christians this is really about wealthy people. It isn’t. The people who are suffering are some of the poorest people on the planet,” he said.
He suggested that the country’s imperial history, “because of the concerns that some people might have in linking the activities of missionaries in the nineteenth century to misguided imperialism”, might have led to a hesitation “to look at the issue [of Christian persecution] properly”.
He invited the Bishop of Truro to speak to him “without fear or favour” about issues the Foreign Office needed to address.