By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife
LAHORE/LONDON (BosNewsLife)– The persecution watchdog of Britain’s largest body of evangelical Christians has condemned the deadly Easter bombing in Pakistan and urged the British government to act immediately to “enshrine freedom of religion or belief” in its foreign policy.
The Religious Liberty Commission (RLC) of the Evangelical Alliance UK, which represents two million evangelicals, told BosNewsLife that the suicide attacks in a park in Pakistan’s second largest city, Lahore, “deliberately targeted Christians”.
As this was part of “the many other atrocities carried out around the world against people of faith” the RLC said the government should “greatly increase the status of freedom of religion or belief” across all foreign policy “in recognition of the essential role it plays in underpinning other human rights and civil liberties.”
The RLC also asked the government to “substantially increase the capacity of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office” (FCO) to promote religious freedom worldwide. “Much has been done to secure freedoms and challenge injustice, but so much more could be achieved with an increase in staff and resources.”
It was also crucial for the FCO to spread religious knowledge among government departments, the group added. Sunday’s “tragic events” in Lahore highlight the persecution that Christians are currently facing in many countries, including North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Nigeria, the RLC noted in a statement.
“At a time when so many parts of the world are experiencing oppression by those who wish to deny or destroy religious freedom, our hope is that Britain can strengthen its record of promoting human rights by placing freedom of religion or belief at the heart of foreign policy,” said RLC spokesman David Landrum.
The RLC, which also includes advocacy groups Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Open Doors, and Release International, welcomed British Prime Minister David Cameron’s Easter message “calling for the defence of Christian values” amid terrorism.
“It is heartening that Mr Cameron has acknowledged the suffering of the Christian Church across the world,” Landrum said.
Though Christians “are the most persecuted faith community in the world” they are not alone in facing persecution, the RLC acknowledged.
Yet, “We are encouraged that [Cameron] recognizes that religious freedom is a fundamental right for everyone, and is an essential part of a free society, and we hope that this recognition will be expressed strongly in foreign policy,” Landrum added.
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