UK HOSTS MAJOR RELIGIOUS FREEDOM CONFERENCE
Liz Truss quotes Bible in support of religious freedom
Britain led a major international conference on Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) in London on 5 and 6 July.
The government is also conducting a review of the Truro Report into Christian persecution, having previously pledged to fully implement its findings.
The conference hosted over 600 faith, belief, government and civil society leaders from 100 countries to promote action to protect religious freedom around the world.
80 per cent of the violence against faith groups worldwide is directed against Christians
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss announced £500,000 of funding and focused in particular on abuses in China, Nigeria and Afghanistan, adding that religious persecution is “collateral damage” in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Christian anti-persecution charity Release International called on the UK government to hold to its promises. Release’s CEO, Paul Robinson, asked: “How many more Christians Foreign Secretary Liz Truss launched a Network of Freedom have to die for their faith before governments around the world take decisive action?
Religious persecution is “collateral damage” in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
“The Truro Review has recognised that 80 per cent of the violence against faith groups worldwide is directed against Christians.”
Speaking at the conference, Liz Truss said: “Authoritarians and oppressors feel threatened by the freedom of religion or belief, fearing it will encourage people to think freely and question their authority. We cannot allow them to win. That is why we’re deepening links with our allies and partners to build a Network of Liberty around the world. “As St Paul told the Corinthiians: ‘Be on guard, stand firm, be courageous, be strong.’”
EVANGELICALS TARGETED BY RUSSIAN SEPARATISTS
In areas of Ukraine under Russian control, some evangelical Christians have been forced out and not allowed to return.
Russian soldiers have driven evangelicals out of their buildings
According to Christian Today, evangelical buildings have been confiscated and worshippers forbidden from congregating.
Release International also reports that Christians have faced searches by separatists who have taken equipment, demanded registration documents and closed churches. Voice of the Martyrs says Russian soldiers have also driven evangelicals out of their buildings.
CHRISTIANS BURNT TO DEATH
A report by Amnesty International says Christians are being targeted in Myanmar.
Julia Bicknell of Christian religious freedom charity Open Doors welcomed the report and told Premier News: “We’ve seen firm evidence of attacks against unarmed civilians in the predominantly Christian state of Kachin… I think we need to remind our politicians that we owe Myanmar at least a debt because it used to be part of the British Empire.”
“We owe Myanmar a debt because it used to be part of the British Empire”
Myanmar’s Christians are not attacked just for their faith but for political and racial reasons. However, the violence is shocking. Bicknell gave an example in which 35 men, women and children were burned to death, and said there have been air strikes on refugee camps.
TODDLERS GUNNED DOWN WHILE WORLD FOCUSED ON TEXAS SHOOTING
Gunmen shot least 50 people as they worshipped in a Catholic church on Pentecost Sunday – including children of two and three years old.
This atrocity failed to gain anywhere near the same news coverage as the Texas attack, even though more people died. Bishop Jude Arogundade of the Ondo Diocese said some gunmen invaded the church, while others waited outside to kill churchgoers who were fleeing in terror.
However, MPs did debate the growing violence in Nigeria in the House of Commons, led by Christian MP Fiona Bruce.
Gunmen waited outside to kill fleeing churchgoers
Morning Star News reported that, even a month after the attack, it was not known which extremist group was responsible. Officials in Nigeria reportedly blamed the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), whereas locals suspected Fulani herdsmen.
Last year more Christians were martyred for their faith in Nigeria than any other country, according to Open Doors.
CHRISTIAN MP HOUNDED BY STATE PROSECUTOR
The Finnish MP and bishop who are being taken back to court for ‘hate speech’ are hoping that the case will bring a victory for freedom of speech.
As reported in our last issue, Christian MP Päivi Räsänen and Bishop Pohjola were accused of hate speech for sharing the Bible’s teaching on homosexuality on social media, but were cleared of all charges. In March a lower court dismissed the case and ordered the prosecution to pay over 60,000 Euros in legal costs, resulting in Finland’s state prosecutor applying for a new hearing.
The state prosecutor wants them to be fined and censored in print and on social media
But the Helsinki Court of Appeals is re-opening the case against them as the state prosecutor wants Räsänen and Pohjola to be fined and censored in print and on social media.
Päivi Räsänen said: “After my full exoneration in court, I am dismayed that the prosecutor will not let this campaign against me drop and yet, the prosecutor’s decision to appeal may lead to the case going all the way to the Supreme Court, offering the possibility of securing a positive precedent for freedom of speech and religion for all Finnish people.
“Also, I am happy that this decision will lead to the discussion of the Bible’s teachings in society. I am ready to defend freedom of speech and religion… as far as the European Court of Human rights, if necessary.”