Approximately four of five people persecuted for their religious beliefs are Christians, according to an interim report prepared for the British government.
The Rt. Rev. Philip Mounstephen, Anglican bishop of Truro, which is located in the United Kingdom, prepared an interim report focused on persecuted Christians, delivering it to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office last Friday.
According to the lengthy interim report, 80 percent of persecuted believers around the world are Christians, with Bishop Mounstephen labeling it “an inconvenient truth.”
In footnote number 344, Mounstephen explained that while the statistic derives from 10-year-old research by the International Society for Human Rights, it remains accurate.
“Although this figure no longer appears on the ISHR website this is simply because it is now ten years old,” wrote Mounstephen in the note.
“However in private conversation with leading figures in ISHR they stand by the figure and suggest that it is now a conservative estimate.”
The interim report cited other research, including a Pew Research Center study from 2017 which found that Christians were targeted for their beliefs in 144 countries.
“Christians have been harassed in more countries than any other religious group and have suffered harassment in many of the heavily Muslim countries of the Middle East and North Africa,” stated Pew, as quoted in the interim report.
The report went as far as to say that Christian persecution worldwide was not only increasing, but “arguably coming close to meeting the international definition of genocide.”
“The eradication of Christians and other minorities on pain of ‘the sword’ or other violent means was revealed to be the specific and stated objective of extremist groups in Syria, Iraq, Egypt, north-east Nigeria and the Philippines,” states the interim report.
“An intent to erase all evidence of the Christian presence was made plain by the removal of crosses, the destruction of Church buildings and other Church symbols.”
Mounstephen explained that a final report is expected to be completed sometime in the summer, including detailed information on “focus countries” where Christians face especially harsh treatment.
“Over the course of the next two months I will be engaging with FCO Embassies and High Commissions in a discussion about what actions have or have not been taken,” he wrote.
“I will also be considering the role of Ministers and policies at the centre of the FCO. I will consider the role of the FCO in representing the UK with like-minded partners, both in bi-lateral partnerships and within a multi-lateral context.”
British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said in a statement released last Friday that the interim report was “a truly sobering read.”
“There is nothing more medieval than to hate someone on the basis of their faith. That it is on the rise should shock us all,” stated Hunt.
“I look forward to seeing the Bishop’s final report in the summer, and identifying further specific steps the FCO can take to do more to address the fate of persecuted Christians around the world.”