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9 James bundy

Waking up to the scale of global Christian persecution

Christian persecution around the world is much worse than we thought, writes James Bundy

Christianity is the most persecuted religion in the world, and rates of these persecutions are on the rise. Our brothers and sisters are being killed, tortured and silenced because of their Faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. We have a duty to be aware of this persecution and to offer our brothers and sisters the support they need, as well as grow in our Christian Faith.

Reading about the persecution Christians go through is a painful experience. Beheadings, bombs and gunshots are what millions around the world face every day simply for practising their Faith. Yet, they still go to Mass, Confession and proclaim the truth everywhere they go. Their love and commitment to our Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Mother Church should inspire us all.

With more Christians facing the prospect of persecution every day, it matters more than ever that we in the West wake up to the scale of this persecution and respond to help those in need.

Eye opening report

It is why I make a commitment to keep up to date with the latest reports on Christian persecutions, parliamentary debates and, sadly, the most recent tragedies.

One such report was conducted by the Bishop of Truro after being established by the then Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary, Jeremy Hunt MP. This report served as an eye-opener to me, but more importantly, to a number of MPs as well.

This report made clear that Christians were ‘the most persecuted group’ in the world. The same report also cites the Open Doors World Watch List Report 2019 Key Findings by stating that ‘approximately 245 million Christians living in the top 50 countries experience high levels of persecution or worse.’ The widespread nature of Christian persecution is also made clear by references to attacks in Egypt, Pakistan, Indonesia, Myanmar, Sudan, and North Korea.

Call for action

The World Watch List for Christian Persecution also emphasises the wide-ranging nature of the problem by listing North Korea, Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya and Pakistan as the top five nations on the World Watch List. On top of this, the report concludes that, in 2019 alone, 2,983 Christians worldwide were killed because of their Faith, 9,488 churches and other Christian buildings were attacked and 3,711 believers were detained without trial, arrested, sentenced or imprisoned.

In the West, and particularly in the United Kingdom, we have been far too slow to react to this growing persecution. The only incident of Christian persecution I remember getting any sort of coverage in the mainstream media was the atrocious Easter bombings in Sri Lanka—and much of that coverage was because Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton referred to those persecuted as ‘Easter worshippers.’

The Christian news story that appeared to get the most media coverage last year was the burning of Notre-Dame Cathedral. It was a tragedy, as it was a beautiful building designed to aid us all to God, but is it as sad as the death of over 2,500 Christians? Of course it is not!

The previous UK government decided to wake up to the growing problem with Jeremy Hunt MP commissing the report on Christian persecution. Mr Hunt said: “I am not convinced that our efforts on behalf of Christians have always matched the scale of the problem, or indeed have reflected the evidence that it is Christians who frequently endure the heaviest burden of persecution.”

‘Misguided Political correctness’

When reflecting why the United Kingdom did not react more quickly, Mr Hunt bravely argued: “Perhaps because of a misguided political correctness—or an instinctive reluctance to talk about religion—British governments have not always grappled with this problem.”

I agree with this insightful comment. For too long, Britain has been running away from its responsibility due to the fear of political correctness, and now I fear that we are heading back in this direction. The positive steps taken when Jeremy Hunt was Secretary of State appear to have come to a halt.

This is a huge disappointment. The United Kingdom prides itself for standing up for those most in need around the world. It stands up for freedom of worship, and proclaims to the world how progressive we are for meeting our 0.7 per cent of GDP target for International Development. However, our country is not standing up for any of these things if the government and our society turns a blind eye to this persecution.

In the past month, Christians have been persecuted in Nigeria, Pakistan, Iran, Uganda, India, China and in many more countries. This should shock us to our very bones. It should make us cry at night.

Pray for persecuted Christians

Perhaps this is why we turn a blind eye. If we were truly aware of the suffering people went through we would be ashamed. We would be ashamed that we live relatively well-off peaceful, and secure lives compared to the horrors that our fellow Christians go through. We would be ashamed that we have stood back and done nothing for so long whilst the situation for our brothers and sisters continues to get worse.

However, we can change this. We must pray for persecuted Christians around the world (particularly during the season of Lent). We must give to charities that support Christians around the world. We must write to our elected representatives (MPs and MSPs) raising our concerns with the growing scale of persecution.

We are part of one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church. An attack on one of its members is an attack on us all. Let us support those in our Church who are most in need by taking the necessary steps which will allow our government to make the defence of all Christians around the world one of its main priorities.

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