Thank you for contacting me about the persecution of Christians.
The UK has always championed freedom of religion or belief for everyone. As a country that has always been a beacon for freedom and tolerance, I passionately believe the UK should not shirk its responsibilities.
Today, about 245 million Christians worldwide are believed to face persecution for their faith. The evidence suggests the problem is getting worse. The number of countries where Christians face religiously-motivated harassment rose from 128 in 2015 to 144 a year later, according to the Pew Research Centre. Perhaps because of a misguided political correctness - or an instinctive reluctance to talk about religion - British governments have not always grappled with this problem.
That is why I am glad the Independent Review of Foreign and Commonwealth Office support for persecuted Christians, conducted by the Anglican Bishop of Truro, the Right Reverend Philip Mounstephen, has been published. As you may know, the Review is the conclusion of a project that began in December 2018, when the Foreign Secretary asked Bishop Mounstephen to carry out this important research with the full support of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
The recommendations have been divided into short, medium and longer term priorities and Ministers have already implemented a good number of them. This includes recently appointing a Director General level champion for Freedom of Religion or Belief and marking Red Wednesday in support of persecuted Christians and members of other minority groups. Some of the recommendations will take longer to implement and many will require an ongoing effort to embed into the working practice of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and other Departments.
These are positive steps forward, but for those facing persecution, I admit that it offers very little relief until real results are delivered.