Bishop of St Albans raises religious persecution in Queen’s Speech debate

St Albans 2On 7th January 2020 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, spoke during the second day of debate on the Queen’s Speech, on the topic of the integrated security, defence and foreign policy review:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I want to make a few comments on the integrated security, defence and foreign policy review, which is a welcome development in the Government’s plans for the next five years.

I note that the Government will consider the,

“freedom of speech, human rights and the rule of law”

of foreign nations and how this interacts with our own interests. I hope that the Minister will agree with these Benches that any such review should also include religious persecution, drawing on the work and recent report of the Foreign Office, assisted by the Bishop of Truro, on the persecution of Christians.

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Church Commissioner Questions: social media, telecommunications masts in parishes, FCO support for persecuted Christians, festivals in cathedrals, funding for Keighley constituency

On 25th July 2019 MPs asked questions of Rt Hon Dame Caroline Spelman MP, the Second Church Estates Commissioner. Questions were asked about social media, telecommunications masts in parishes, FCO support for persecuted Christians, festivals in cathedrals, and funding to the Keighley constituency:

spelman170119b

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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.

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Bishop of Chelmsford asks Government about education as means to tackle violence based on religion or belief

chelmsford170119bOn 10th July 2019 Baroness Berridge asked the Government  “what plans they have to recognise the newly designated United Nations Day for commemorating the victims of acts of violence based on religion or belief on 22 August”. The Bishop of Chelmsford, Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, asked a follow-up question:

The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford: My Lords, perhaps I may say that, on behalf of many of us, we welcome the Government’s support for this day, although we hugely grieve for the fact that such a day is necessary. One of the best ways that we will tackle continuing violence, based on religion or belief, in the long run will be through education. I wonder whether Her Majesty’s Government are planning or investing in the training of educators and religious leaders from countries where there are high levels of freedom of religion or belief violations, so that we can promote respect and peaceful coexistence. This would be a very profitable investment.

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Bishop of Coventry asks Government for its definition of persecuted groups

180416 CoventryOn 3rd July 2019 Baroness Williams of Trafford answered a written question from the Bishop of Coventry, Rt Revd Christopher Cocksworth, on their definition of persecuted groups:

The Lord Bishop of Coventry: HL16494 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of what constitutes persecution of groups of people.

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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?

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Church Commissioner Questions: serious youth violence, clergy recruitment in London, cathedrals and the economy, employee pay gap, responsible investments, mobile phone masts, Christian persecution

On 20th June 2019 MPs asked questions of Rt Hon Dame Caroline Spelman MP, the Second Church Estates Commissioner. Questions were asked about serious youth violence, clergy recruitment in London, the contribution of cathedrals to the local economy, employee pay gap, responsible investments, mobile phone masts, and persecution of Christians:


The right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, was asked—

Serious Youth Violence

Daniel Kawczynski (Shrewsbury and Atcham) (Con)
1. What steps the Church of England is taking to help tackle serious youth violence; and if she will make a statement. [911477]

Vicky Foxcroft (Lewisham, Deptford) (Lab)
7. What steps the Church of England is taking to help tackle serious youth violence; and if she will make a statement. [911484]

The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Dame Caroline Spelman): The Church was represented at the knife crime summit organised by the Prime Minister at No. 10 earlier this year, and the General Synod will be debating this subject at its session next month. There is no question but that this issue is of the utmost seriousness, as too many young lives are being lost.

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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.

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Bishop of St Albans asks about situation of Christians in China

On 28th May 2019 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, received a written answer to a question he had asked about Chinese Christians:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: HL15776 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the situation of Chinese Christians following reports that the government of China has labelled the expansion of Christianity a “grave harm to Chinese national security”.

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Church Commissioner written answers: Sri Lanka aid, Christian persecution in Africa

On 13th May 2019 the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Dame Caroline Spelman MP, answered two written questions from Jim Shannon MP, on aid to Sri Lanka and on persecution of Christians in African countries:

Jim Shannon (Strangford): 252642 To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, what steps the Church of England is taking to tackle the persecution of Christians in African countries; and what steps the Church of England is taking with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to highlight the persecution of Christians in those countries.

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