At Christmas, the Foreign Secretary asked the Bishop of Truro, Philip Mounstephen, to conduct an independent review into the UK's response to the persecution of Christians abroad. The review aims to map levels of persecution and other discrimination against Christians in key countries around the world. It will provide an objective assessment of the impact and levels of Foreign and Commonwealth Office support, and make recommendations to the Foreign Secretary.
An interim report has now been published by the Bishop of Truro, which has been welcomed by the Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt. It estimates that one third of the world's population suffers from religious persecution in some form, with Christians being the most persecuted group. The interim report sets out the challenges for Christians in different regions, and makes for stark reading. It can be found at https://christianpersecutionreview.org.uk/interim-report/.
The UK has played an important role in bringing together other countries that share our values and giving a voice to those who don't have one. I look forward to studying Philip Mounstephen's final report in due course, which will review specifically the work of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office at all levels over the last five years in its role to support the 80 per cent of persecuted believers who follow Jesus Christ.
As Philip Mounstephen makes clear, the challenge for Government will be to turn these recommendations into workable solutions and for the rest of the community to partner with some of the finest diplomats in the world to ensure that the freedoms that Britain was at the forefront of creating become a reality for both Christians, and people of all faiths and none, around the world today.