If Christian nations don’t support global Christians, no-one will

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

The government has ordered a review into the plight of persecuted Christians around the world.

Jeremy Hunt, the foreign secretary, has asked the Bishop of Truro to carry out the investigation.

One of the key aims of this project is the mapping of persecution in key countries in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. We need to know if these horrific reports of 250 Christians on average being killed each month are accurate, or maybe over-stated, or perhaps even under-stated.

As Mr Hunt says, the UK must do more, as a nation that “has long championed international religious freedom”.

Britain is a hugely generous overseas donor. We need to see a major tightening of that approach, with stipulations given alongside aid. If countries are not helping their own poor or if they are riddled with corruption or if they engage in the persecution of particular groups, or indeed if they make trade hard for the UK, then they must not get our assistance.

Similarly, Britain should be unapologetic about its Christian heritage, and stand up for Christians who suffer overseas.

Note how, for example, an extremely rich Islamic country, Saudi Arabia, did not take Muslims who fled Syria in the refugee crisis. Where were the pro asylum activists in their criticism of that wealthy nation when they were demanding that Europe open the floodgates?

There is a powerful argument that Britain should have given priority to Christians from Syria in 2015. After all, if Christian countries are not going to stand up for Christians elsewhere in the world, who will do so? It is hardly likely to be China, for example, an increasingly powerful country that does not have a good record of tolerating freedom of religion.

Also, the appalling treatment of Asia Bibi, sentenced to death for blasphemy in Pakistan and later reprieved to the anger of mobs, is a reminder that the west does things differently.

No country in Europe or America tolerates execution on such grounds, nor has done for hundreds of years. We have more tolerant values, rooted in our JudeoChristian history, and fostered over centuries.