MPs debate the effect of Covid on freedom of religion

Nov 28, 2020 by

from Christian Concern:

Tim Dieppe comments on this week’s Westminster Hall debate on the effect of the current pandemic on freedom of religion.

Yesterday (Thursday 26 November) there was a Westminster Hall debate in Parliament to discuss the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on freedom of religion or belief.

Crisis exploited to violate human rights around the world

Much of the debate focused on how governments around the world have exploited the Covid crisis to violate human rights, and in particular the right to freedom of religion or belief. Fiona Bruce MP spoke first and highlighted how minority religious groups have often been blamed for the spread of the disease. She also spoke of how China has used the pandemic to increase surveillance of Buddhists and Christians. She said: “Some church members who tried to meet for online worship were detained and had police stationed at their homes to prevent them from joining online services.”

There have also been cases where lockdown policies have been used as an additional means to curtail freedoms, and prisons where prisoners of conscience are “held in unsanitary, ill-equipped and life-threatening conditions, where insufficient access to water, food or medical facilities makes their plight desperate.” In other cases, there has been discrimination against religious minorities in aid distribution or employment.

Christians are the most persecuted group in the world

Andrew Selous MP reminded MPs that Christians are the most persecuted group in the world.  He highlighted more than 5,500 churches being destroyed or closed down in China, as well as attacks against Christians in India and Nigeria.

Danny Kruger MP spoke powerfully about these issues, reminiscing about his personal experience of visiting the Anglican church in Baghdad in 2003. He also encouraged MPs not to ignore the tremendous breach of freedom of religion at home with the closure of churches through the lockdown. Much of his speech is worth quoting at length:

Read here

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