Steve Brine MP

for Winchester & Chandler's Ford

20 JAN 2015

Report launch on religious freedom

Steve Brine joined over 60 MPs as he attended a crucial discussion held at Westminster on Tuesday 20th January regarding the disturbing increase and breadth of persecution against Christians around the world.

Recent attacks by Islamic extremists including the tragic events in Paris and Nigeria are part of a wider trend highlighted in a key report from the charity Open Doors, which attracted an unprecedented number of parliamentarians to attend the meeting yesterday and leaving them shocked by the scale and severity of the issue.

MPs were also left in no doubt following the evidence presented at the meeting, that the rise of Islamic extremism in places like Nigeria, Kenya, Iraq and Syria has dramatic implications for the future of the global Christian community. With 60 years' experience of working in this field, Open Doors added its weight to the recommendation that the government appoint a UK special envoy for freedom of religion or belief as a visible indication of the UK's commitment to promoting and protecting this important right.

Baroness Anelay, Minister for Human Rights at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, addressed those attending, urging MP's to take immediate action. "This report is a harrowing read, and makes us understand the true meaning of how one has to be so courageous in so many places to have a faith. There's a long way to go, but we all have a role to ensure freedom of religion is ensured for all people."

Open Doors also appealed to MPs to ensure that there is an effective and robust foreign policy in place to foster and protect freedom of religion. The charity urged the UK government to pay close attention to the constitutional, legal and cultural sources of persecution – noting early warning signs such as changes in law or jurisprudence, as well as overt violence.

Steve Brine said: "A number of constituents flagged this event up to me and encouraged me to drop-in. I am very glad I did because Open Doors 2015 report is fascinating reading and very sobering for us Christians. The event saw a huge turnout from MPs from across the House and I think we all learned a great deal and were grateful for the insight provided by the speakers, especially Dr. Ron Boyd-MacMillan from Open Doors who outlined the report brilliantly for us."

Commenting on the presentations made, Edward Leigh MP declared, "The truth is that the overwhelming path, strength, and intensity of religious persecution in the world is on Christians...This is a crisis of the world that the UK government must concentrate on." The group of MPs also heard from Nigerian pastor Rev. Daniel Awayi, who addressed the group sharing from his personal trauma of living in the shadow of Islamic extremism. The room was silenced on hearing his shocking experiences.

In particular, the report presented to MPs today highlighted the gender dimension of persecution: the double-vulnerability of female Christians who often face discrimination based on both their gender and their religion. Open Doors called on policy makers to explore the value and impact of raising religious freedom as a dimension of women's rights.

Others addressing the gathering today included Naomi Long MP, and Director of Strategic Trends and Research for Open Doors International, Dr. Ron Boyd-MacMillan. Urging MPs to act Dr. Ron Boyd-MacMillan warned, "There's a rising tide of antagonism against Christians all around the world, and it's getting harder to be a Christian everywhere." Whilst Naomi Long MP reflected, "This report puts in perspective the scale and the difficulties of the issue of persecution against Christians around the world."

The charity publish this annual, detailed research tracking trends and severity of global persecution against Christians, in order to ensure MPs remain informed of the extent and severity of the situation facing Christians and to recommend ways in which to tackle it.


More information ...

READ more from Open Doors here

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