Barnabas Fund welcomes Foreign Secretary Mr Jeremy Hunt’s recently launched government review on the global persecution of Christians. The UK can and “must do more” for the many Christians facing persecution and discrimination worldwide, as Mr Hunt has admitted in his call to action.
But first of all, the UK government must look to its own discrimination against Christians – at home and overseas.
The Sunday Times has stressed in a recent article the UK government is “repeatedly failing to give sanctuary in Britain for a fair proportion of Christians” and warning that policy “appears to discriminate in favour of Muslims risks embarrassing the government”.
We strongly urge the government to stop discriminating against persecuted Syrian Christians seeking a safe haven in the UK. As our research and Freedom of Information requests to the UK Home Office have shown, resettlement figures consistently underrepresent Christians, with a tiny percentage of just 0.2% being accepted by the UK in 2017.
Underlying these shameful statistics is the Home Office’s apparent admission, in their own equality assessment, of implicit discrimination against Christians in policies that “disproportionately advantaged” Muslims.
Even in New Zealand, a Commonwealth country with a history of upholding religious liberty for all, Barnabas Fund recently learned the disgraceful fact that not a single Christian was among the intake of 277 Syrian refugees for resettlement in the past year. New Zealand politicians also admit that Muslims are being favoured in government refugee policies.
And in the UK, are Christians taking the precious freedom of religion they enjoy too much for granted? Leading politician Rt Hon Sir John Hayes CBE MP has warned, “The ‘golden era’ of religious liberty may be coming to an end”.
Speaking at the launch of a Barnabas Fund publication celebrating Britain’s historic role in the global development of religious freedom, Sir John urged that “people stand up for freedom”, highlighting in his foreword to the Barnabas booklet that, “Religious believers are, once again, facing increased pressure to restrict their faith to the ‘private sphere’. We now see regular, and increasingly unapologetic, persecution of Christians who remain committed to Biblical teaching, refusing to bow to liberal, secular orthodoxies.”
We pray that the UK government will heed the urgent calls of Mr Hunt, and others, to re-evaluate its role in relation to the persecution Christians are facing every day across the world. We also ask the Lord to bring wisdom to Western governments and leaders who now need to preserve, in their own nations, the freedom of religion and belief that was won over centuries after much struggle and sacrifice.