International Freedom of Religion or Belief Conference 2022

Jul 3, 2022 by

by Archbishop Cranmer:

The inaugural International Freedom of Religion or Belief Conference takes place in London this coming week, on 5-6th July, under the aegis of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). Some 500 faith leaders, foreign ministers, and non-governmental organisations will gather from around 50 countries to discuss and agree action to tackle religious persecution and discrimination around the world.

It has been a while since the Government accepted all 22 recommendations in the review produced by the Bishop of Truro, the Rt Rev’d Philip Mounstephen, which was commissioned by Jeremy Hunt when he was Foreign Secretary (possibly with a slight nudge from the Rev’d Jonathan Aitken).

It has, in fact, been three years since this report was accepted, during which time, while the world contended with a global pandemic, some 360 million Christians endured significant persecution for their faith, and 6,000 were killed for their faith last year alone. Open Doors maintains a Watch List of the 50 countries where Christians face the most extreme persecution: more currently die in Nigeria for their faith than in all other countries combined.

It is encouraging that the current Foreign Secretary has made this a priority for the newly formed FCDO. She hasn’t yet been in the job for a year — and has of course been rather preoccupied with Russia’s butchery in Ukraine and China’s belligerence toward Hong Kong — but she intuitively understands, as Jeremy Hunt came to understand, that freedom of religion and freedom of worship are not only fundamental human rights, but an invisible line between open societies and closed societies. As Jeremy Hunt observed: “Where freedom of worship is hampered or prevented, then usually that’s a sign of lots of other things going wrong, and we wanted to make sure that the UK is doing everything to champion the values that we all believe in.”

Read here

See also:

Release International highlights persecution in Africa in Westminster

Minister says International Religious Freedom Conference will ‘turn words into action’, by Donna Birrell, Premier

Freedom of religion or belief – government admits there is more to do, by Ruth Peacock, Religion Media Centre

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