Freedom of Religion should no longer be niche interest’ says MP

Feb 1, 2024 by

from Church of England Newspaper:

The government’s envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief, could be put on a statutory footing as a Bill received its Second Reading in the House of Commons this week.

The Private Members Bill put forward by the current special envoy, Fiona Bruce, MP, follows the Truro review, by Bishop Philip Mounstephen which recommended the government develop the role of Special Envoy with resources and authority to work across the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Bruce pointed out that the current ForB Envoy appointment is “at the discretion of the Prime Minister of the day” and therefore “there is no guarantee that such an appointment will be made under any future Prime Minister.”

She argued, “By making the role statutory, the Bill would remove any risk of the envoy’s role being at the whim or interest of any future Prime Minister, whatever their political colour.”

Bruce said it was important to challenge the perception that ForB is a “niche interest”.

She said, “Perhaps for those who have strong religious beliefs. It cannot become a niche interest, because hundreds of millions of men, women and children around the world suffer persecution and discrimination, whether under the hard arm of authoritarian regimes or at the ruthless whim of militant mobs, and they need not just our voices but our partnership; not just our words, but our actions; and not just our good will, but our good deeds.”

Church of England Newspaper February 2 2024

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