To mark the end of Lent, the Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has written 40 letters to persecuted Christians, church groups and leaders from across the globe.
The letters, written to encourage and bolster Christians under attack, highlight the Foreign Secretary’s commitment to supporting the plight of the world’s most persecuted religious group.
Last year saw 245 million Christians persecuted, and on average 300 Christians were killed every month because of their faith.
Mr Hunt’s first letter was to 90-year old Dutch missionary Brother Andrew, founder of Christian NGO Open Doors. During the height of the Cold War, Brother Andrew risked his life to support persecuted Christians by smuggling Bibles to them.
In his letter to Brother Andrew, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said:
“As a man of faith, free to practise in line with my conscience, I am appalled at the plight of the 245 million Christians worldwide currently facing persecution as a result of their belief.
“I want you to know that the UK stands in solidarity with persecuted Christians around the world.
“Freedom of Religion or Belief is a human right enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It must be respected. People from all faiths or none should be free to practice as they wish. I will continue to make this case for the millions who suffer as a result of their beliefs and British diplomats will continue to advocate for all those denied the right to practise their faith.”
The UK’s foreign policy response has not always reflected the suffering of persecuted Christians. That is why the Foreign Secretary has commissioned an independent, global review into the persecution of Christians led by the Bishop of Truro, Rt Reverend Philip Mounstephen.
Henrietta Blyth, CEO of Open Doors said:
“I welcome the Foreign Secretary’s independent review into the extent of UK government support for Christians facing persecution for their faith.
“This review is a great first step but the proof of the pudding will be if it delivers concrete change for persecuted Christians and if its recommendations are also adopted by other government departments.”
Bishop Mounstephen will make recommendations on the practical steps the government can take to better support persecuted Christians.
The review is due to report in the summer.