Persecution of Christians

26th July 2019

The UK has always championed freedom of religion or belief for everyone. As a country that has always been a beacon for freedom and tolerance, I passionately believe the UK should not shirk its responsibilities.
 
Today, about 245 million Christians worldwide are believed to face persecution for their faith. The evidence suggests the problem is getting worse. The number of countries where Christians face religiously-motivated harassment rose from 128 in 2015 to 144 a year later, according to the Pew Research Centre. Perhaps because of a misguided political correctness - or an instinctive reluctance to talk about religion - British governments have not always grappled with this problem.
 
That is why I am glad the Independent Review of Foreign and Commonwealth Office support for persecuted Christians, conducted by the Anglican Bishop of Truro, the Right Reverend Philip Mounstephen, has been published. As you may know, the Review is the conclusion of a project that began in December 2018, when the Foreign Secretary asked Bishop Mounstephen to carry out this important research with the full support of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).
  
I welcome Bishop Mounstephen's report and its recommendations. The Review was independent and, in some respects, is critical of the FCO's approach. The FCO must accept such criticism in the constructive spirit in which it was intended.
 
I will continue to engage with Ministers across government as they agree a formal collective response.

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1. The UK passed the world’s first Climate Change Act over a decade ago with cross-party support. This gave us both a framework to set statutory carbon budgets and set up the independent Committee on Climate Change.

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