Supporting freedom of religion in Parliament

While Brexit is understandably in the spotlight, there have been many other debates and events taking place in Parliament this month.

Without question, one of the most important was the launch of the 2019 World Watch List, compiled each year by Open Doors, listing the 50 countries in the world where it is most dangerous to live as a Christian.

Those who seek to worship in these nations may find their local church has been closed by the government, they may be denied a job because of their faith, and individuals can even be arrested simply for possessing a Bible.

Around 245 million Christians are at risk of high, very high or extreme levels of persecution, with Russia entering the list for the first time since 2011.

It is perhaps unsurprising that North Korea was named the most dangerous country for Christians to worship. Many Christians there do not even tell their children about their faith until they are older teenagers, in the fear that they may inadvertently discuss such beliefs.

More than 3,700 Christians have been killed in Nigeria for their faith. After the launch of the report, I raised this in the House of Commons with a call for the Foreign & Commonwealth Office to help stop such persecution.

I remain grateful to the Crawley residents who contact me in support of Open Doors’ efforts; not just coinciding with the launch of their annual World Watch List, but throughout the year.

In December, it was confirmed that the Bishop of Truro will be leading an independent review of British Government support for persecuted Christians. It is expected to look into how British diplomacy provides security for minority groups under threat, in addition to practical assistance and foreign policy priorities.

Henry Smith MP