Custom Search 1

Persecution of Christians on the rise

DESTROYED: The remains of a church destroyed by a bomb in Iraq. Pic: Christian Post

FROM OUR living rooms in the UK, many of us watched with horror the violent uprisings in the Middle East.

There have been many heartbreaking moments from these conflicts but among them is the fact that thousands of Christians have been forced to flee because of persecution in Iraq.

The threat by the ultraconservative extremist group, Islamic State (ISIS) - who warned Iraqi Christians they had one week to convert or die - is enough to send chills up the spine of any Christian.

There have been growing concerns over groups such as ISIS which experts said have grown amid conflict in countries such as the Iraq.

While the threat may seem far away for some of us, with rising persecution of Christians, could there be similar conditions growing here that could see British Christians forced to flee, abandon or hide their beliefs?

Concerns are already being raised. In fact an article in the Express newspaper on August 26, columnist Douglas Murray pointed out that among the growing crimes taking place in the Middle East is ‘the crime is the wholesale eradication of Christianity from the continent.’

Apart from Israel, Murray said, Christians in several other Middle East countries have had to abandon their homes or have been killed for refusing to renounce their faith.

“As the dictators began to fall - in 2003 and then in the so-called "Arab Spring" from 2010 onwards - these societies gave way to civil wars of unimaginable brutality. They were Muslim on Muslim. But Christians ended up becoming the focal point,” Murray wrote.

“When Egypt was briefly ruled by the Muslim Brotherhood tens of thousands of Egyptian (Coptic) Christians fled. Others stayed and died, some last seen crossing themselves as the Muslim Brotherhood's tanks crushed them.”

Murray suggested that extremists such as ISIS would love to wipe out Christians across the globe - and others have raised fears that radicalised Brits now serving with extremist groups like ISIS could one day turn their attention to home.

“Britain still purports to be a Christian country and today we have a chance to show it,” Murray wrote.

But there are others in Britain who have also expressed concern that Christians are already under fire in the UK, with many Christians already forced, like many in Iraq, to go into hiding.

The pressure, they said, is not coming from extremist groups such as ISIS but a violent avalanche of another sort – aggressive secularism.

In fact, in an interview with the Telegraph on August 23, former attorney general, Dominic Grieve, warned that Britain was at risk of being “sanitised” of faith because an “aggressive form of secularism” in workplaces and public bodies was forcing Christians to hide their beliefs.

“I worry that there are attempts to push faith out of the public space. Clearly it happens at a level of local power. You can watch institutions or organisations do it or watch it happen at a local government level. In my view it’s very undesirable,” Grieve, a practising Anglican, said.

“Some of the cases which have come to light of employers being disciplined or sacked for simply trying to talk about their faith in the workplace I find quite extraordinary. The sanitisation will lead to people of faith excluding themselves from the public space and being excluded. It is in nobody’s interest that groups should find themselves excluded from society.”

There have been a series of high-profile cases in which people have been banned from wearing crosses at work or sacked for resisting tasks which went against their religious beliefs.

Among them is Nadia Eweida, who was sacked by British Airways (BA) in 2006 after wearing a cross to work.

The airline said Eweida had violated its no jewelry uniform policy and won a UK employment tribunal.

But the European Court of Human Rights later ruled that Eweida faced religious discrimination. BA has also changed its uniform policy to allow jewelry that expresses faith.

Other high profile cases, also heard by the European Court of Human Rights, were those of nurse Shirley Chaplin, 57, whose employers prevented her from wearing a cross on a necklace and Gary McFarlane, a marriage counsellor who was sacked after stating he might object to giving sex therapy advice to gay couples.

Lillian Ladele, a registrar at a London council also faced disciplinary measures after telling employers her faith meant she could not conduct same-sex civil partnership ceremonies but could refer them to other staff.

The court did not rule in favour of Ladele, McFarlane or Chaplin.

There are other signs of Christianity being under siege in Britain.

For example, the Telegraph also reported that two years ago the Government changed the law to ensure that councils could not face legal challenges for holding prayers before town hall meetings after the High Court backed a controversial campaign to abolish such acts of worship.

Grieve said Christianity was a “powerful force for good” in modern Britain and warned that Christians should not be “intimidated” and “excluded” for their beliefs.

He said politicians and public figures should also not be afraid of “doing God” and that they have a duty to explain how their beliefs inform their decisions.

He also told the Telegraph that “appalling” scenes in Iraq, which have seen Islamic extremists behead and crucify religious minorities including Christians, showed that it was “more important than ever” for people to express their religious beliefs.

“I do think Christianity has played an enormous role in shaping this country. It’s a very powerful force in this country [but] I think it’s underrated, and partly because in the past it has failed to express itself as clearly as it might. Recognising people’s right to manifest their faith and express it is very important,” Grieve said.

But in allowing the slow eradication and marginalisation of Christianity in Britain, could we be inviting a similar fate as Iraq? Only time will tell.

Subscribe to The Voice database!

We'd like to keep in touch with you regarding our daily newsletter, Voice competitions, promotions and marketing material and to further increase our reach with The Voice readers.

If interested, please click the below button to complete the subscription form.

We will never sell your data and will keep it safe and secure.

For further details visit our privacy policy.

You have the right to withdraw at any time, by clicking 'Unsubscribe'.

Facebook Comments