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Opinion

Why religious freedom shouldn't just be for Christians

Opinion

Here at Premier Christian News, not a week goes by without us raising awareness of a situation facing persecuted Christians across the world. But as images emerge of Uighar Muslims in China seemingly being shipped onto trains to detention camps where they will carry out hard labour, Ben Rogers from Christian Solidarity Worldwide says it’s time for believers to speak out for religious freedom, not just for fellow Christians...but for all:

It's absolutely essential for a number of reasons. Firstly, I think there is a moral, biblical mandate to do so. 

We're told to love our neighbour, we're told to speak up for justice. It doesn't say anywhere in the Bible 'speak out for justice only for your fellow Christian'. 

We do, of course, have a special responsibility for our fellow Christians because if we don't speak out for them, who will? But it shouldn't stop there.

If you use the parallel with somebody who's physically hungry, I know very few Christians who, if two people are sitting together and one's a Christian one's of another faith, would say 'we're only going to give food and help to the Christian'. So the same principle should apply in the in the area of freedoms and human rights.

But there's another reason for doing so as well. There's a moral and biblical reason but there is also a self-interest reason in the sense that many of these different groups are facing the same challenge in the same countries. 

So in China, where the Uighars are persecuted, so are Christians and then Iran with the Yazidis and Christians, so it's very much in our interest if we want to help Christians who are persecuted actually to work for religious freedom for everyone in those countries. 

You can't have religious freedom for one group and not for another. So, in order to have religious freedom for Christians, we need to work for religious freedom for everyone. What I find is that the more that people of one faith speak up for the rights of those of another, actually, the others then speak up for your faith.

So what's our response? At CSW we say 'pray, protest and provide' so we would certainly encourage people to pray about these situations, but also to join in forms of protest, for example, by writing to Members of Parliament to set out what MPs could be doing to press the British Government on this. We at CSW can help people to write such letters by providing some of the key points to raise but I think raising these issues with your local Member of Parliament is really important.

Ben Rogers is the East Asia team leader at Christian Solidarity Worldwide

 

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