The deadly persecution of Christians around the world is something the Church of England takes profoundly seriously. The average member of the global Anglican Church lives in a place of conflict, post-conflict or persecution. The Bishop of Truro’s landmark 2019 review into the persecution of Christians laid bare the scale of this global phenomenon and its impact on Christians of all denominations. It has strengthened our commitment to advocating for freedom of religion or belief for Christians and all faith communities around the world.
Over the last 40 years, I’ve travelled extensively to be with Christians suffering for their beliefs: smuggling Bibles into Eastern Europe in the 1980s, standing by a mass grave of murdered Christians in Nigeria, sitting with a man who had lost seven children and his wife, and worshipping with Christians in Pakistan in the wake of devasting church bombings. I’ve prayed with bereaved and traumatised survivors of the Easter 2019 attacks in Sri Lanka — in a church whose walls and icons were still stained with blood. I’ve been held at gunpoint in northern Nigeria, in one of dozens of visits to support Christians living there amid great struggle and suffering.
This is not about stating credentials, but rather emphasising the seriousness with which we view the suffering of our brothers and sisters. It’s a privilege to stand alongside these Christian communities and to advocate for them in this country and internationally. We do this frequently and we will keep doing it.
The Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem, with whom I co-wrote an article in this week’s Sunday Times, has every right to speak about the threat facing his community.