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Christian persecution report released by Foreign Secretary

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and the Rt Revd Philip Mounstephen, speak during a joint conference at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in central London, to launch the Bishop’s independent review into the Foreign Office’s response to the persecution of Christians. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo Alastair Grant/PA Wire

By Press Association 

The report into the persecution of Christians around the world has been released, alongside recommendations and critcisms by the Bishop of Truro. 

Commissioned in December by Jeremy Hunt, the findings today show that 80% of religiously motivated attacks in the world are against Christians and that this should now be called ‘Christophobia’. 

The Bishop of Truro, Philip Mountstephen recommended that the government be prepared to impose sanctions, ensure they are able to respond to immediately atrocities and establish a ‘John Bunyan’ fund, named after the author of Pilgrim’s Progress, to go towards helping persecuted Christians. 

It also suggests Britain aspires to be the global leader in freedom of religion and belief and to ensure that those values underlie its operations abroad, with a specific commitment to upholding the rights of minorities. 

Speaking at the launch of the report, the Conservative leadership candidate Mr Hunt said: “I’m 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 in persecution.”

“Perhaps because of a misguided political correctness or an instinctive reluctance to talk about religion, British governments haven’t always grappled with this problem.”

He said it is not fair that Christians abroad have received so little attention and that if he becomes the next Prime Minister he would “accept the recommendations in full”. 

One of the developments was the naming of this discrimination as Christophobia and that all Foreign Office staff should undergo mandatory training on religious literacy, subject to resources. 

Mr Hunt ended by saying: “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 our shoulders and walk on the other side of the road”. 

The Bishop of Truro, Philip Mountstephen told Premier Christian Radio’s News Hour: “The Foreign Office really needs to get on the front foot and mainstream this issue.”

Bishop Philip added that he’d been personally struck by the scale of the problem but also how many other issues the topic of persecution had uncovered, saying: “If you lift the stone that’s marked ‘persecution’ you find all sorts of really unpleasant and sinsiter things underneath it – you find militant nationalism, you find authoritative regimes that brook no opposition, you find religious fundamentalism of various sorts that are often very intolerant of Christian minorities.”

Bishop Philip said he was shocked that the most dangerous place in the world to be a Catholic priest was Mexico because they often stand in the way of organised crime and that the situation in Nepal, China and India had worsened a lot in the last few years. 

Speaking of Mr Hunt’s efforts, he said “I have been very impressed with him. I think he is a man of integrity and conviction and this is not an issue that he has just hitched his carriage to recently. He has been concerned about this issue for a long, long time…and I think it’s a conviction and a passion that he holds quite dearly”. 

One of his recommendations was that the government be prepared to use sanctions. When asked what these would be, he replied: “I think the question of what sanction would be appropriate would change from context to context and of course whether you’re talking about individuals or whether you’re talking about states but there’s a tool kit of possibilities that are out there that governments have used in the past.”

Source: Premier



Christians ‘most persecuted religious group in modern times’, says Hunt

British Foreign Secretary and Conservative leadership candidate, Jeremy Hunt.
Photo: Jane Barlow/PA Wire

Mon 08 Jul 2019

By Press Association

Christians are the “most persecuted religious group in modern times”, Conservative leadership candidate Jeremy Hunt has claimed.

If he wins the Tory leadership race, Mr Hunt said he will seek to protect Christians around the world as Prime Minister by enacting all of the recommendations of a review he commissioned as Foreign Secretary last year.

The Bishop of Truro’s independent review, published on Monday, looks at the Foreign Office response to the persecution of Christians.

Speaking ahead of the launch, the Rt Rev Philip Mounstephen said: “Addressing this issue with the seriousness it deserves represents a step change for democratic governments.

“My hope is that in adopting my recommendations the Foreign Office will be able to bring its considerable experience and expertise to bear in helping some of the planet’s most vulnerable people.”

The bishop recommends the UK Government pushes for a Security Council Resolution urging all governments in the Middle East and North Africa to protect Christians and other persecuted minorities, and allow UN observers to monitor the necessary security measures.

The report also calls for the UK Government to consider imposing sanctions against those who commit human rights abuses against religious minorities, including Christians.

Mr Hunt said the UK must take a firmer stance on the persecution of Christians around the world.

He added: “The sense of misguided political correctness that has stopped us standing up for Christians overseas must end.

“At home, we all benefit from living in a tolerant, diverse society and we should not be afraid of promoting those values abroad.

“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.”

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, the Prime Minister’s special envoy for freedom of religion or belief said the Government has already “acted on the rising tide of Christian persecution across the world with some success”.

He added: “We, therefore, note the findings of this independent report and will consider the recommendations carefully and how they may further enhance our work in tackling Christian persecution specifically and in strengthening our work on freedom of religion or belief.”

Source: Premier



Nigeria: I Will Bring Back Christian Girl, Leah Sharibu, And Other Abducted Girls, Says President Buhari

“We want to reassure the affected families and friends that this administration will not relent in its efforts to bring back all the remaining girls including Leah Sharibu, who has become a postal child for the heinous activities of Boko Haram insurgency.”

President Muhammadu Buhari on Saturday promised to ensure that Leah Sharibu, the only Christian school girl in Boko Haram captivity after the Dapchi school girls Kidnap. 

Buhari made the pledge at the Grand Finale of the 2019 Nigerian Army Day Celebration and Combat Support Arms Training Week at Ikeja Cantonment Parade Ground, Lagos, represented by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo.

He said, “The challenge for us is to recognise this sick extremism of Boko Haram for what it is and form alliances across faith, ethnicities, to destroy an evil that confronts us all.

“We will continue to demonstrate the political will and determination towards ensuring that our land is rid of insurgency and that criminality is kept at the barest minimum.

“There are also other situations of insecurity in our midst, the Fulani herder and farmer conflicts, random killings, banditry and kidnapping.

“In different parts of the country, there are challenges that the army has had to intervene in, on many occasions.

“We assure all Nigerians that these challenges are been seriously tackled by the Federal Government working with the states through a multi-pronged approach, working with the Nigerian Army and all our security forces and law enforcement agencies.

“Nobody will be allowed to maim, kill or commit other crimes and escape. It is our duty to apprehend and punish these criminals and we are doing that and we will continue to do so.

“It is now up to our Judiciary to ensure that justice is meted out, not just comprehensively, but in a timely manner,” he said.

“We want to reassure the affected families and friends that this administration will not relent in its efforts to bring back all the remaining girls including Leah Sharibu, who has become a postal child for the heinous activities of  Boko Haram insurgency.

“We will reunite them with their families and friends by the Grace of God.”

Source: Sahara Reporters



Catholic Church in Diocese of Yujiang Raided and Shut Down

Clergy and believers refusing to join the Patriotic Church cannot evade the CCP’s continuous crackdowns and persecution even in the most remote rural places.

by Wang Yong

Following the Vatican-China Deal of 2018, the CCP has mandatorily required all Catholic clergy to join the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association (CPCA) and accept the principle of an “independent, autonomous, and self-administered” church in China. The clergy who refuse are being persecuted and often arrested, their churches are frequently harassed, religious symbols destroyed, and many are eventually shut down. On June 28, the Vatican released new guidelines stating that the Holy See will not mandatorily require Catholic conscientious objectors to join the CPCA.

The meeting venue before and after being ransacked.

On May 6, local government officials raided a Catholic meeting venue in the Diocese of Yujiang, in the southeastern province of Jiangxi. According to members of the congregation, to avoid persecution and surveillance, the place of worship was set up in a remote mountain village and was disguised to look from the outside like a regular ancestral hall – a traditional Chinese temple dedicated to deceased family members. However, despite their attempts, the believers could not escape the heavy hand of the CCP.

No members of the congregation were present at the time of the raid, and all faith-related symbols inside the venue were maliciously smashed and destroyed.

“After we arrived, we discovered that the crucifix on the front wall had been dismantled and thrown into a ditch outside, at a nearby mountain. The framed holy paintings that hung on both sides of the wall were smashed and thrown on the floor. Even the monogram of Jesus Christ and the cross on the front of the altar table were removed,” a churchgoer who requested anonymity recalled what he saw after the raid.

“After we arrived, we discovered that the crucifix on the front wall had been dismantled and thrown into a ditch outside, at a nearby mountain. The framed holy paintings that hung on both sides of the wall were smashed and thrown on the floor. Even the monogram of Jesus Christ and the cross on the front of the altar table were removed,” a churchgoer who requested anonymity recalled what he saw after the raid.

Holy paintings were smashed, the JHS monogram and cross on the front of the altar table were removed.
Holy paintings were smashed, the JHS monogram and cross on the front of the altar table were removed.

On May 13, officials illegally searched the meeting venue once again. They also raided a small two-story building adjacent to the meeting venue and seized all the Catholic keepsakes inside the building. A slogan “Strengthen the management of religious venues and resolutely resist the infiltration of xie jiao” was written on the outside wall of the meeting venue.

The slogan “Strengthen the management of religious venues and resolutely resist the infiltration of xie jiao” was written on the outside wall of the meeting venue.
The slogan “Strengthen the management of religious venues and resolutely resist the infiltration of xie jiao” was written on the outside wall of the meeting venue.

After the meeting venue was ransacked, government officials prohibited churchgoers from holding mass there and threatened to arrest the priest and demolish the church if they disobeyed.

The CCP is taking full control of the churches operated by conscientious objectors who refuse to join the CPCA by any means possible: be it constant harassment and threats or arrests of the clergy, hoping that without bishops and priests, they will collapse and believers will eventually disperse. To prevent this from happening, believers ask priests not to take the risk of coming to places of worship. “It doesn’t matter if we’re arrested, but we definitely must protect the priests,” some elderly believers said.

All the Catholic keepsakes inside the adjacent two-story building were confiscated.
All the Catholic keepsakes inside the adjacent two-story building were confiscated.

“The CCP is waging a comprehensive investigation of religious belief under the pretext of ‘cleaning up gang crime and eliminating evil,’ demanding each village official to investigate villagers in their respective areas of responsibility. If persons of faith are identified, they must be reported to the higher authorities. If the investigation continues this way, no religious venue will be omitted. No matter how well-concealed a meeting venue is, it will still be discovered,” said the churchgoer.

He also revealed that during the campaign to “clean up gang crime and eliminate evil,” government officials have made visits to meeting venues that refuse to join the CPCA across the Diocese of Yujiang to monitor and intimidate them. Homeowners were prohibited from hosting gatherings of believers, threatened with 200,000 RMB (about $ 30,000) fines. “We have gone a very long time without conducting Holy Mass, nor do we dare to hold activities at will,” the believer added.

Source: Bitter Winter



Violent attacks on Christians on increase as Africa faces “unprecedented” humanitarian emergency, says UN

An unprecedented humanitarian emergency is looming in the Sahel region of Africa following a surge in armed violence, warned UN aid agencies and NGOs in a report on 27 June.

Around one million people fled their homes in the past year, bringing the total number of people displaced across the Sahel to 4.2 million, the report said. Displacement has increased five-fold in Burkina Faso and Niger, which have also recently seen a sharp rise in Islamist attacks against Christians.

“The impact of the crisis, in one of the world’s most vulnerable regions, is dramatic. The extent and intensity of the attacks have left communities suffering untold devastation,” said Chris Nikoi, regional director of the World Food Programme. “Millions of people have yet to recover from last year’s food and nutrition crisis,” he continued.

Houses in Karamai village, Nigeria, that were burnt out in one of the brutal attacks by Fulani militants early in 2019 that killed nearly 300 Christians in Kaduna State

Rising violence across the Sahel, including Burkina Faso, northern Cameroon, Niger, Nigeria, Chad and Mali, is putting communities at even greater risk of food insecurity, malnutrition and epidemics, the report warns.

It says more than seven million people are struggling with food insecurity, and five million children are at risk of malnutrition. Children’s education is also suffering, with more than 4,000 schools out of action and 900,000 children affected.

Barnabas Fund has reported a number of separate incidents of lethal Islamist attacks against Christians in the past six months. Our contacts in Burkina Faso reported early in June that 82 pastors and 1,145 Christians fled different locations in the north of the country to the city of Kaya, Sanmatenga province, following a series of attacks by jihadists that had killed at least 100 people.

In Nigeria, the death toll in Christian villages across Kaduna State reached almost 300 in February and March alone after a merciless killing spree by Fulani militants.

A woman and a 16-year-old boy were the latest victims murdered in northern Cameroon by Boko Haram militants close to Grossi village in early June, the scene of at least two previous attacks this year. Boko Haram is also active in south-eastern Niger where, on 11 June, they told Christians to flee for their lives or be killed.

Source: Barnabas Fund