A global summit on persecution against Christians has taken place in Washington D.C.
The summit, organised by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, brought together “more than 600 victims, advocates and leaders from 130 countries” to help raise awareness and do something about the crisis.
US Vice President Mike Pence spoke at the summit and said the faith of those in attendance ‘inspired and humbled’ him.
“The reality is, across the wider world, the Christian faith is under siege. Throughout the world, no people of faith today face greater hostility or hatred than the followers of Christ”, said Pence.
Adding that: “America will continue to stand for religious freedom of all people, of all faiths, across the world”.
The summit was held just weeks after the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) released its annual report concluding that “the state of affairs for international religious freedom is worsening in both the depth and breadth of violations”.
Speaking as the report was released, Thomas Reese, Chairman of USCIRF, asked the US Government to “stress consistently the importance of religious freedom abroad, for everyone, everywhere, in public statements and public and private meetings”.
The report recommends any country “whose government engages in or tolerates particularly severe religious freedom violations that are systematic, ongoing, and egregious”, also be declared a “country of particular concern” or CPC.
It identifies 16 countries as meeting its CPC standard including North Korea and Iran.
Russia was also identified for its use of anti-extremism law which criminalises religious meetings outside of state-registered venues. Reese said that: “Religious freedom should not suffer under the guise of seeking to ensure national security.”
In January this year, a UK-based Christian charity found that the global persecution of Christians is still increasing.
In its 2017 World Watch List, which monitors countries where religious persecution is at its worst, Open Doors stated that over 200 million Christians experience a high level of persecution for their faith.