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Prime Minister promises to help persecuted Christians

West Europe

Prime Minister promises to help persecuted Christians


Prime Ministers Official Portrait. Picture by Andrew Parsons / i-Images

In a Downing Street reception the British Prime Minister promised to work with British churches to address the persecution of Christians and religious minorities around the world.

“It is hard to comprehend that today people are still being attacked and murdered because of their Christianity,” she declared at her annual reception for representatives of the churches in Downing Street.

“We must reaffirm our determination to stand up for the freedoecm of people of all religions to practice their beliefs in peace and safety. And I hope to take further measures as a government to support this,” she added.

She did not specify what action she might take. Her government has been criticised for failing to recognise the genocide that is taking place in the Middle East against Christians, in sharp contrast to declarations by the EU and the US State Department. The British government has also been criticised by the churches for its failure to give sanctuary to Syriac and Iraqi Christians fleeing from persecution in Islamic State controlled areas.

Theresa May is one of the first British Prime Ministers in recent times to be comfortable at talking about her faith. Tony Blair was a Christian but his Press Secretary very firmly told journalists ‘We don’t do God’. Her predecessor David Cameron said his faith was “like the reception for Magic FM [radio station] in the Chilterns: it sort of comes and goes”.

She is the daughter of a Church of England clergyman. She told her visitors to Downing Street: “Growing up in a vicarage, I know first-hand the many sacrifices involved and the hard work that so many of you do, from the services and ministry in your churches to the comfort and guidance you provide to millions in our country at some of the most difficult moments in their lives.”

She urged the churches to celebrate the role of Christianity in this country.

“We have a very strong tradition in this country of religious tolerance and freedom of speech, and our Christian heritage is something we can all be proud of. We must continue to ensure that people feel able to speak about their faith, and that absolutely includes their faith in Christ,” she declared.