There needs to be a “sea-change” in how the UK treats worldwide anti-Christian persecution, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said.
Hunt had ordered a review into the issue. He said that the UK should be prepared to sanction abusers of religious rights, adding that the government’s response to discrimination hasn’t always “matched the scale of the problem”.
He said he would fully accept the report’s recommendations if he becomes PM.
The report highlights the shocking impunity with which discriminatory laws, fear and violence are used by state and non-state actors to discriminate appallingly against Christians in countries across the world.
The report, written by the Bishop of Truro the Right Reverend Philip Mounstephen, also suggested the UK should adopt a definition of anti-Christian discrimination.
It said the Foreign Office should identify the “particular character” of discrimination against Christians, alongside “similar definitions for other religions”.
Hunt said he thought officials should clearly call out specific anti-Christian hatred using the term ‘Christophobia’.
The bishop’s report estimated estimated that one in three people suffer from religious persecution, with Christians the most persecuted religious group.
It said this ranged from routine discrimination in areas such as education and employment, to “genocidal attacks” in certain parts of the world.
It added there has been an “exodus” of Christians from the Middle East and North Africa, where they are estimated to make up less than 4% of the total population, down from 20% a century ago.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said he hoped the “powerful” report would prompt further government action.