As millions of people around the world celebrated the meaning of Christmas, British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced a global review of Christian persecution on Dec. 26. The review aims to find practical steps to aid Christians in the face of intensifying persecution against them in certain parts of the world.
In an article published on the same day, Hunt explained his reasons for commissioning the review.
Hunt began with something that struck him—Christians in the West, like himself and his family, take for granted that they can peacefully enjoy a Christmas service while “others around the world are facing death, torture, and imprisonment for that very right.”
“About 215 million Christians suffer persecution,” Hunt said, citing statistics from Open Doors, a Christian advocacy group.
In his article, Hunt referred to specific cases of Christian persecution, including one in 2017 where a suicide bomber attacked a Christian Cathedral in Egypt, killing 17 people in the congregation.
Hunt also highlighted the hindrance caused by political correctness in responding to the persecution of Christians.
“Whatever the cause, we must never allow a misguided political correctness to inhibit our response to the persecution of any religious community,” Hunt said.
Philip Mounstephen, Bishop of Truro, will now lead an independent review focusing on countries across the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. The review will “analyze British support and recommend a comprehensive policy response,” Reuters reported.
“It is time to echo that message of hope to the persecuted church around the world; with our deeds as well as our words,” Hunt said at the end of his article.
A Challenge of Ideology
Controlled by a communist regime, North Korea occupies the number one position on the list of most dangerous country to practice the Christian faith.
“The state considers the spread of Christianity a particularly serious threat, since it challenges ideologically the official personality cult,” reads a 2014 United Nation report.
While North Korea eliminates the challenge of ideology through deporting believers to labor camps or killing them, its next-door neighbor, China, adapts different methods.
During a hearing to the U.S House of Representatives, Bob Fu, the founder and president of China Aid, told congress that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is trying to rewrite the Bible as part of a five-year plan to in their words “Sinicize” Christianity. Throughout its history, the CCP has frequently used slogans of patriotism and nationalism to incite the masses behind its political agenda, the Nine Commentaries of the Communist Party said.
Fu said that in addition to “retranslating” the Old Testament, the plan also proposed to promote socialist ideals in commentaries to the New Testament. He added that the plan was also to “re-translate the Bible or re-write biblical commentaries,” reported the Christian Post.
Moreover, the CCP also banned online sales of the holy book in April, according to The Epoch Times.
Those who refuse to follow the CCP’s rule on religion face arrest, torture, and the demolition of their churches.
Less than three weeks before Christmas, more than 100 House Christians—or Christians who don’t register with the government—were arrested during a raid by Chinese police, some of them were beaten after being taken away by police, according to a report by Human Rights Watch.
However, even Christians in China who register with the government face suppression. Thousands of crosses on churches have been removed. Some state-sanctioned churches have been handed notices that forbid minors and CCP party members attending, and that the communist national anthem must be sung during some church services.
People in China, Christian or not, have also been discouraged from celebrating Christmas. Langfang city near Beijing banned all Christmas-related sales and decorations this year.
The wave of intensified persecution faced by Christians is part of the CCP’s continuing efforts to impose its atheist ideology on all religions practiced in China, as the CCP has always seen divided loyalty between spiritual faiths and Marxism as a threat to its rule, some China experts have warned.
The CCP demands loyalty from faiths including the once widely-practised Falun Gong, Tibetan Buddhism, and Islam. Falun Gong, an ancient Chinese spiritual discipline, has been brutally persecuted by the CCP for more than 19 years. According to Faluninfo.net, one key reason that the CCP launched its persecution of Falun Gong is that the teachings of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Tolerance were a threat to the CCP’s ideological control. At the time when the persecution began, an estimated 100 million people were following the spiritual discipline.
This same kind of persecution has also been reported to be escalating for Uyghur Muslims and other ethnic minority Muslims as the CCP tightens its grip on control of the nation. At least one million ethnic Uyghurs, including some who practise Islam, are currently being held in mass internment camps in the remote northwestern region of Xinjiang.