The Prime Minister, Theresa May has responded to questions about persecution of Christians in Parliament. Michelle Donelan, Member of Parliament for Chippenham, asked whether part of the money the UK sends as international aid should be earmarked for Christians suffering persecution. In response, Prime Minister Theresa May spoke of her meeting with Open Doors partner, Father Daniel, from Iraq and his experience of persecution. Amazing!
The Prime Minister said, “I have to say to my honourable friend this is an issue that I know is of concern to many members of this house and I was pleased, a matter of weeks ago, to meet Father Daniel from Nineveh who talked about the very real persecution that his congregation were suffering and had suffered in the past. He presented me with a Bible which was burnt, which had been rescued when a church had been set on fire.
“This is a real issue. All of our aid is distributed on the basis of need to ensure that civilians are not discriminated against on the basis of race, ethnicity or religion. We are working with governments, the international community and the United Nations to support the rights of minorities and to ensure our aid does reach those in need. But we will of course further explore what more support we can give to knock the persecution of religious minorities.”
This brilliantly positive response is a direct result of all the campaigning done by Open Doors supporters! This has put the issue of Christian persecution much higher on the government’s priority list and has increased the pressure on the government to respond to the calls of Christians in Syria and Iraq. These calls were summed up in the Hope for the Middle East petition which was signed by over 800,000 people from all around the globe, including over 160,000 people from the UK and Ireland.
Given the great momentum that this success has brought, we now, now more than ever, need to continue to drive the message of the persecuted church forward.
The third call of the Hope for the Middle East petition asked for a prominent role for faith-based leaders in reconciling and rebuilding a future in Iraq and Syria. There is now an opportunity for this to become a reality through a forum organised by Open Doors and hosted by Lambeth Palace which will bring UK faith leaders with networks in the Middle East together with representatives from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) so that the church leaders can speak into the UK government’s foreign policy. Minister of State at the FCO, Alistair Burt, has already promised high-level representation from the Foreign Office for these meetings.
We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.