A new special envoy for freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) is to be appointed, the UK Government has announced.
Minister for Asia Nigel Adams has reaffirmed the Government’s “unwavering commitment” to FoRB and said an appointment would be made shortly.
The role was made permanent last year, following an independent review for the Government by the Bishop of Truro – Rt Revd Philip Mounstephen – on persecuted Christians.
When the bishop published his findings, the Government committed to adopt his recommendations “in full”.
During a parliamentary debate on the persecution of Christians, the Minister outlined progress made on the “challenging” recommendations and acknowledge that not all had been implemented.
However, he said: “The Prime Minister is resolute in his commitment to freedom of religion or belief, and I can confirm that a new special envoy will be appointed in due course.”
Taiwo Owatemi MP raised concerns about: “Christians who are being denied food aid in Bangladesh and India during the pandemic, nurses in the Gulf who have been denied personal protective equipment, and those who have reportedly been attacked during lockdown in Nigeria”.
Stephen Doughty MP highlighted the plight of Rohingya Christians who had suffered “threats and violence” in refugee camps in Bangladesh.
freedom of religion is, indeed, the linchpin on which other freedoms restDr Lisa Cameron MP
He also said: “In Algeria, there is an ongoing campaign of church closures against the Protestant Church of Algeria, which serves the Berber population—13 churches have been closed over the past three years.”
Dr Lisa Cameron MP added: “In much of the world, freedom of religion is, indeed, the linchpin on which other freedoms rest — such as the freedom to congregate, freedom of speech, and freedom of expression. Those rights are interdependent and absolutely inseparable.”
Speaking at the launch of the Bishop’s report in 2019, then Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “As the Christian doctrine of original sin reminds us, the capacity for wickedness is inherent in the human condition.
“We’ll never be able to extirpate anti-Christian bigotry but nor must we shrug and walk on the other side of the road.”
It is a sad fact that Christians are the most persecuted religious group in modern timesJeremy Hunt MP
“At home we all benefit from living in a tolerant, diverse society and we should not be afraid of promoting those values abroad.”
He added: “It is a sad fact that Christians are the most persecuted religious group in modern times. I am determined to show that we are on their side.”