In December 2018 the Foreign Office commissioned a report about the scale of persecution of Christians around the world with the intention of producing recommendations for actions by the UK Government. In July 2019, just a couple of days ago in fact, details were released at a press conference held jointly by Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and the report’s author Philip Mountstephen, Anglican Bishop for Truro. The full report should be published later in the month.
It is indeed welcome news that HMG is moving towards recognising what people like Raymond Ibrahim and Patrick Sookhdeo of the Barnabas Fund have been saying for years but the report is compromised from the start by its reluctance to identify the main cause.
Here are some excerpts, with my comments following:
“An estimated one-third of the world’s population suffers from religious persecution in some form, with 80% of them being Christians.”
Do we know who 80% of the persecutors are? I think we do but the Bishop downplays the issue.
“Christian persecution has multiple drivers and as such it deserves special attention. More specifically it is certainly not limited to Islamic majority contexts. So this review is not a stalking horse for the Islamophobic far right, nor does it give the Islamophobic right a stick to beat Islam with.”
No, it is not limited to Islamic contexts but the great majority of the persecution of Christians is carried out in Islamic contexts, by Muslims. This list shows the details (it sometimes takes a couple of attempts to load it). We all know that but it seems that to acknowledge it means being automatically consigned to the “Islamophobic far right”.
The Bishop naturally finds space for a spot of nos quoque self-flagellation.
“One thinks with shame of the Crusades, the inquisition and the pogroms….”
Those Crusades will be the belated and very limited response to several hundred years of jihad around the Mediterranean, no doubt. If you have not seen this graphic juxtaposition of jihad and the Crusades by Bill Warner, now is the time to do so.
The report recommends that:
“The UK should be prepared to impose sanctions against perpetrators of FoRB (freedom of religion or belief) abuses and should seek a [UN] security council resolution urging all governments in the Middle East and North Africa to protect Christians and other persecuted minorities.”
Fine, something must be done, but it is the following two recommendations which really caught my interest:
“Foreign Office staff should be given training in religious literacy and belief dynamics.”
What does that mean? You can bet your bottom dollar it won’t mean getting to grips with the two things in Islamic doctrine that really matter, Islamic supremacism and the means to bring it about, jihad. Without understanding those the Foreign Office staff will be as clueless as the clergy, the difference being that the latter are wilfully so.
“The government should name the phenomenon of Christian discrimination and persecution, and undertake work to identify its particular character alongside similar definitions for other religions.”
According to the Press Association report this means giving the malice behind the persecution of Christians a name – Christophobia – to bring it into line with Islamophobia and Anti-Semitism.
The problem with this is that the overwhelming source of this malice is not identified so, for all the naive reader of this report will know, the problem is just one of free-floating Christophobia. Moreover, the reservoir of hatred in Islam is not reserved for Christians – they just happen to be on the border of Islamdom in Africa or among Muslims in the Middle East – but for all unbelievers.
Allah is quite open about it in the Koran. He made it very clear that anyone refusing to submit to him can expect unpleasantness in this life followed by extreme unpleasantness in the next. Therefore while Christians adopt and popularise the word Christophobia the rest of us should point out that it is just a subset of KAFIRPHOBIA. Lets spread the word.