Originally published in Aleteia
A report commissioned by the British foreign secretary has found that Christianity is the most persecuted religion in the the world, and recommends that sanctions should be imposed on the perpetrators of this oppression.
The report, compiled by Philip Mountstephen, the bishop of Truro, and commissioned by foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt, found that one-third of the world’s populations suffers from religious persecution and that 80% of those affected are Christian.
The report says: “Evidence suggests that acts of violence and other intimidation against Christians are becoming more widespread.”
“In parts of the Middle East and Africa, the ‘vast scale’ of the violence and its perpetrators’ declared intent to eradicate the Christian community has led to several parliamentary declarations in recent years that the faith group has suffered genocides according to the definition adopted by the UN,” it says.
In his introduction, Mountstephen notes that the persecution of Christians touches the “global poor” first and foremost.
“Despite the impression those in the West might sometimes have to the contrary, the Christian faith is not primarily an expression of white Western privilege. If it were we could afford to ignore it – perhaps,” he says.
“But unless we understand that it is primarily a phenomenon of the global south and of the global poor we will never give this issue the attention it deserves. That is not to patronise, but it is to be realistic. Western voices that are quick to speak up for the world’s poor cannot afford to be blind to this issue,” reads the report.
In addition to sanctions against perpetrators of religious persecution, the report urges the government to tailor its policies so as to view the persecution of Christians by the same principles it views the persecution of other religions.
The report also calls for more research and monitoring of human rights abuses as they relate to freedom of religion, and the establishment of an early-warning system and an immediate response to genocidal atrocities.
The report documents violent and non-violent oppression of Christians throughout the world, noting that the “persecution of Christians is perhaps at its most virulent in the region of the birthplace of Christianity — the Middle East and North Africa.”
In south Asia, the reports notes, a growing militant nationalism has driven the persecution of marginalised Christians, while conflicts with Muslim-majority cultures have fuled it in sub-Saharan Africa.
The report also highlights the persecution of Christians has been observed in east Asia, Central East Asia, and Latin America.