MPs have called on the Government to do more to oppose religious persecution abroad during a debate in Westminster this week.
Jim Shannon MP, chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom of Religion or Belief highlighted the global persecution of Christians and the need to protect religious freedom.
The debate was the first in Westminster Hall since the General Election.
‘Convert or die’
In his opening speech Shannon said that there is a direct correlation between countries with little religious freedom and countries with high levels of violence or terrorism.
He particularly spoke about Christian persecution in Iraq and Syria, where Christians have lived for two thousand years, who now are being forced out of their homeland by Islamic extremists.
He said: “In those areas, Christians are often given the ultimatum: convert to Islam or die.”
Shannon also reminded the Government of the Conservatives’ manifesto pledge to combat “violence against people because of their faith”, and of Theresa May’s recent statement that people of all religions should be able to practice their beliefs openly and in safety.
Christian MP Fiona Bruce also called on the Department for International Development (DFID) to do more to “proactively prevent civil disturbances where the root is lack of religious freedom”.
She also pointed out that many of the countries with the worst religious freedom receive UK aid, and that the DFID should address this properly.
While the debate centred on Christian persecution abroad, the issue of Christian marginalisation in the UK was also raised.
David Simpson MP said that the persecution of Christians is “nothing new”. He said: “Those who believe in the biblical truth of the gospel have always been persecuted.”
He added that even in the UK, “street preachers and others are told to remove themselves from the streets.”
“If we live in an age of equality, that should be rectified”, he added.
Lisa Cameron MP echoed his sentiments, adding that many churches and church groups in her constituency “feel that their beliefs are marginalised in this country, too”.
When ‘diversity rules’ are used to justify suspending a nurse who offered to pray for a patient’s recovery, as happened to Caroline Petrie on 17 December 2008, something has gone very wrong in modern Britain. This report examines the growing marginalisation of Christians and catalogues cases of discrimination.