Several members of the US Congress have written a letter to the country's ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, Rashad Hussain, asking him to turn its attention to the situation of Christians in the UK.
Written by Congressman for Texas Chip Roy and signed by some seven other Congress members, the letter argues the UK is on "an unsettling path" that could result in "existential threats to freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and even freedom of thought".
They argue that the recent approval of the nationwide rollout of Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPO) or 'buffer zones'– an area near an abortion which criminalises any activity that could be seen as offensive to people using the facilities – will permit the "prosecution of Christians and other people of faith for simply expressing their pro-life and religious views".
'Buffer zones' are included in clause ten of the Public Order Bill that is currently being debated in parliament. Last week an amendment that would have permitted silent prayer and consensual conversation in the area was rejected.
The congressional representatives cite the cases of Isabel Vaughan-Spruce, Catholic priest Father Sean Gough and Adam Smith-Connor who have all been arrested for silently praying near abortion clinics as examples of "the British government's violation of religious freedom".
They wrote: "As the United States and the United Kingdom share a special and uniquely close relationship, it is imperative that the US speak boldly and clearly to its friend when the UK has failed to protect unalienable rights. A free people do not face legal persecution for exercising a natural right. We strongly condemn the actions of the municipalities and the potential legislation before parliament to persecute Christians and other pro-life citizens for thought crimes."
The group said it is "crucial" that ambassador Hussain speaks out against these incidents to "fulfil America's commitment to advancing religious freedom around the world".
"Respectfully, we urge you to speak out against these specific incidents and pending legislation; to raise this issue with your counterparts in the UK regarding these creeping restrictions and the importance of free speech, religious freedom, and freedom of thought in a free society; and to articulate America's interest in seeing the UK government affirm these freedoms for all its citizens, regardless of where they might be standing."