Freedom fighters Baroness cox (left), Baroness Berridge and former MP Andy Reid at the launch of the APPG website

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KILLING PEOPLE FOR THEIR RELIGION is a worldwide mega-problem which politicians of all parties have agreed to tackle together.

MPs and peers, while already working together to lobby for awareness of religious persecution, have now backed the launch of a new website, Freedom Declared.

Freedom Declared is the new online face of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Freedom of Religion or Belief, which was founded by Baroness Elizabeth Berridge, former chair of the Conservative Christian Fellowship, in July 2012.

Politicians and the public alike jostled to get into the website’s launch event on 9 June. Baroness Berridge told the packed audience that she hopes the website will be a first-class resource for anyone worried about faith-related human rights.

She explained: “An estimated 76 per cent of the world’s population live in countries with high levels of government restrictions on freedom of religion or belief, or where they face high-level hostility due to their religious affiliations, and this figure is rising. That’s why I initiated this APPG – it’s time to act, and for Parliamentarians to take a lead.”

Launching the initiative alongside Baroness Berridge were well-known Christian campaigner Baroness Caroline Cox, and Andy Reid OBE, former Loughborough MP and representative of the Christian mission Interserve.

Baroness Cox spoke about the importance of linking aid to freedom of religion or belief to encourage a better defence of this right.

Andy Reid stressed that persecution needs to be a mainstream, not a marginal issue. However, all political parties need to get involved, he said.

“Freedom of religious beliefs is as important as other human rights but is often overlooked or misunderstood for fear of misinterpretation. I am delighted to give this website my backing as all human rights are important.”

Voters should contact Members of Parliament before the General Election next year, the organisers agreed, to say that persecution matters.

The new site’s editor is advocacy consultant Stephen Rand, who has had communications and advocacy roles with Tear Fund and Open Doors. He also leads and administers Fresh Streams, a church leaders’ network.

 

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