Bishop of Chelmsford speaks in debate on religious persecution, welcomes Foreign Office report into persecuted Christians

On 11th July 2019 Lord Elton led a debate in the House of Lords  “That this House takes note of the extent of persecution of people of faith in this century.” The Bishop; of Chelmsford, Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, spoke in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford: My Lords, I too am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Elton, for this opportunity to examine the extent of persecution of people of faith. I will not repeat the heart-breaking stories of the terrible atrocities that besmirch our world, but they are of course the day-to-day reality for so many people of faith. I thank the noble Lord, Lord Alton, and others for telling those stories—they need to be heard.

The diocese I serve as Bishop of Chelmsford covers east London and Essex and contains some of the most diverse and rapidly changing communities in our land. Here, faith leaders and grassroots worshippers from all religions are engaged in some of the most humbling and encouraging initiatives to hold fast to that most irreducible of godly virtues: peace. Although east London is often a place where bridges are built, sadly, it is also too often an arena where the backwash from religious intolerance, persecution and strife from around the world is felt. We are a global village, but sadly we are also a global playground where much cruelty and intolerance go unchecked.

Continue reading “Bishop of Chelmsford speaks in debate on religious persecution, welcomes Foreign Office report into persecuted Christians”

Bishop of Carlisle asks Government about travel to Hong Kong

Carlisle141217aOn 2nd July 2019 Baroness Goldie (Con) repeated a Government statement on Hong Kong. The Bishop of Carlisle, Rt Revd James Newcome, asked a follow-up question:

Bishop of Carlisle: My Lords, may I ask what advice Her Majesty’s Government might give to those from this country intending to visit Hong Kong at this time?

Continue reading “Bishop of Carlisle asks Government about travel to Hong Kong”

Bishop of St Albans asks Government about British arms exported to Saudi Arabia used in Yemen conflict

St Albans 2On 25th June 2019 the Bishop of St Albans asked the Government “what assessment they have made of the impact of weapons exported from the United Kingdom to Saudi Arabia on the conflict in Yemen”. The Lord Bishop, Rt Revd Alan Smith, then asked a follow-up question:

Earl of Courtown (Con): My Lords, Her Majesty’s Government take their arms export responsibilities seriously. We draw on a range of sources in making assessments, including from NGOs and international organisations which detail political and humanitarian developments in Yemen. We also consult regularly with colleagues at our overseas missions and in other government departments to ensure that we have all the relevant information to make an informed decision.

Bishop of St Albans: I thank the Minister for his reply. I was given an assurance in a past written response to a Question that every sale of arms from the UK undergoes a rigorous assessment in the light of serious violations of international humanitarian law. Yet in 2018 a Minister in the other place said:

“The MOD does not investigate allegations of IHL violations”,

and in 2016, as evidenced in the Court of Appeal last week, the decision was made that there would be no assessment of past violations of international humanitarian law with regard to Saudi Arabia. Can the Minister clarify whether international humanitarian law is taken into consideration when selling weapons?

Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks Government about British arms exported to Saudi Arabia used in Yemen conflict”

Caroline Spelman asks Foreign Secretary about religious literacy of diplomats

spelman170119dOn 25th June 2019  during Foreig Office Questions, the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Rt Hon Dame Caroline Spelman MP, asked the Foreign Secretary about diplomats and religious literacy:

Dame Caroline Spelman: This Foreign Secretary deserves credit for setting up an independent review into the persecution of Christians worldwide, but will he ensure that a lasting legacy is achieved, whatever the outcome of that review, by ensuring that diplomats who are sent to countries where persecution occurs receive training in religious literacy?

Continue reading “Caroline Spelman asks Foreign Secretary about religious literacy of diplomats”

Bishop of Leeds asks Government about strategy for promoting freedom of religion or belief

On 18th June 2019  the Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, received five written answers from Government, about religious freedom and the persecution of Christians:

The Lord Bishop of Leeds: HL16018 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their strategy for promoting and protecting freedom of religion or belief as an objective of UK foreign policy.

Continue reading “Bishop of Leeds asks Government about strategy for promoting freedom of religion or belief”

Bishop of Coventry asks Government about rights and protections for religious people in Hong Kong

Coventry171123On 12th June 2019 Lord Alton asked the Government “what assessment they have made of the impact of the government of Hong Kong’s proposed new extradition law on (1) the autonomy of Hong Kong, and (2) its Basic Law guaranteeing the rights and freedoms of its citizens.” The Bishop of Coventry, Rt Revd Christopher Cocksworth, asked a follow up question on rights and protections for religious minorities.

Continue reading “Bishop of Coventry asks Government about rights and protections for religious people in Hong Kong”

Archbishop of Canterbury encourages Government to invest in peaceful resolution to conflict

On 11th June 2019 Lord Robathan asked the Government “whether the Foreign Secretary’s speech at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet on 13 May represented a change in their policy on defence expenditure.” The Most Revd and Rt Hon Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, asked a follow-up question:

Canterbury051218bThe Lord Archbishop of Canterbury: My Lords, as I am sure the noble Earl remembers, the Foreign Secretary, in his Guildhall speech, not only called for new capabilities and higher spending, but went on to set the point of these new capabilities when he said that,

“strength is the surest guarantee of peace”.

Furthermore, last week, in the D-day proclamation, 16 countries, including the United Kingdom, committed to,

“work together to resolve international tensions peacefully”.

Given those two aims, of strong defence as a sure base for peace and the proclamation, does the noble Earl agree that the formation of the joint reconciliation unit within the Stabilisation Unit in the Foreign Office is a major step forward, in that averting war through orchestrated means—including both hard and soft power—is much cheaper than fighting it?

Continue reading “Archbishop of Canterbury encourages Government to invest in peaceful resolution to conflict”