“There is great evil in the North Korean regime, which the civilised world cannot simply ignore…not to do anything about evil on this scale is to collude with it” – Bishop of Peterborough, 23/7/14
On 23 July 2014 Lord Alton of Liverpool tabled a debate to ask Her Majesty’s Government ‘what was their response to the work of the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’.
The Bishop of Peterborough, the Rt Rev Donald Allister, spoke about the importance of keeping diplomatic channels open, the situation of the Christian population in North Korea and the need to keep up pressure over human rights abuses. Drawing on his experiences of visiting South Korea, he spoke about the growth of Christianity there and the Anglican Church’s initiative, TOPIK—Towards Peace in Korea. Continue reading “Bishop of Peterborough highlights human rights abuses in North Korea”
Church Commissioners’ Questions: 12th June 2014
Rt Hon Sir Tony Baldry MP, representing the Church Commissioners, was asked questions in the House of Commons on 12th June, on the service of remembrance for Stephen Sutton, school chaplains, persecuted Christians overseas, listed church building repairs, credit unions and biblical literacy amongst children. The transcript is below:
Michael Fabricant (Lichfield) (Con):If he will visit Lichfield cathedral to discuss the service of remembrance and celebration of the life of Stephen Sutton. 
The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Sir Tony Baldry): I am always happy to visit Lichfield cathedral. The whole country will have celebrated the life and achievements of Stephen Sutton. The recent service of remembrance and celebration at Lichfield cathedral demonstrates the importance of cathedrals as a focus for unity at times of local and national celebration, commemoration and mourning. Continue reading “MPs questions to Church Commissioners’: Stephen Sutton, school chaplains, persecuted Christians, church repairs, credit unions, biblical literacy”
“Notable cases have caught public attention, but they are the tip of a dark and deadly iceberg of often hidden harm to women, part and parcel of a wider picture of human rights abuse, societal vulnerability and underdevelopment that needs our persistent attention”- Bishop of Coventry, 11/6/14.
On 11th June 2014 in the ninth and final contribution to the debate on the Queen’s Speech from the Lords Spiritual, the Bishop of Coventry, Rt Rev Christopher Cocksworth, spoke on foreign affairs. He focused on n violence and those suffering persecution for their religious beliefs. The Bishop commended the Government for its efforts to combat sexual violence, but questioned the Government’s focus on the OIC-led defamation of religion initiative. He also pressed the Government to help resolve the problem of political factionalism within the Syrian opposition.
The Lord Bishop of Coventry: My Lords, I should like to comment on four themes of the Minister’s inspiring opening speech. First, on gender-based violence, I join the noble Lord, Lord Collins, and other noble Lords in commending the Government’s excellent work, in particular that of the Foreign Secretary. As we have heard, gender-based violence is pervasive, not only in the extreme evil of wartime rape but in other appalling examples of oppression that have been mentioned, including recent incidents in Nigeria, Pakistan, Sudan, Somalia and, if I may add, the recent gang rape and subsequent hanging of three young girls in India. Continue reading “Bishop of Coventry focuses on sexual violence, religious persecution and Syria in Lords response to Queen’s Speech”
On 18th March 2014 Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty’s Government “what assessment they have made of the findings of the United Nations commission of inquiry into human rights in North Korea.”
The Lord Bishop of Peterborough: My Lords, can the Minister confirm recent reports of the possible execution of 33 people for allegedly plotting to overthrow the regime by their association with the South Korean missionary, Kim Jung-wook? What efforts are being made to urge the North Korean authorities not to proceed with such executions and to respect freedom of religion?
“States need to feel comfortable and confident enough in their own skins, as one might put it, to uphold their core values for all citizens regardless of religious or non-religious background. Even in our own nation, it can sometimes appear to be a fragile commodity but we have the comfort of two centuries’ experience of relative tolerance. If freedom of religion is in many ways the fundamental right upon which all other rights turn, it is important for our and other Governments to remain actively engaged over the long term, pressing for the rights of all religious minority communities.”
On 29th October 2013, the Bishop of Wakefield, the Rt Revd Stephen Platten, led a debate in the House of Lords to ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the situation of religious minorities in the Middle East and North Africa after the events of the Arab Spring. He noted that the Arab Spring and resulting events were about issues of identity, political organisation and rights, all of which impact on the place of religious minorities. He urged wisdom and patience from the international community and urged for governments based on consent to be established throughout the region. He noted in particular the persecution of Christians in the region, including many groups historically amongst the earliest Christian communities. He commended the work of the Government in prioritising the freedom of religion but called for there to be consideration around the appointment of an Ambassador-at-Large for Religious Freedom.
The Lord Bishop of Wakefield: My Lords, I am very grateful for this opportunity to speak about the situation of religious minorities in the Middle East and north Africa since the Arab spring. The debate will, I hope, provide the opportunity to take a more detached view on developments over the past few years and to look at the underlying dynamics affecting religious minorities in the region.
Events in the Middle East since the start of the Arab spring have been a challenge not only to those living in the region but to all of us. Many, myself included, have viewed the series of uprisings which started in Tunisia through the lense of our experience of the Cold War. We wrongly assumed then that the fall of the Berlin Wall would usher in an era of tolerance and political pluralism throughout Europe. The reality was very different. Released from the uniformity of authoritarian rule, the former states of the USSR struggled with weak Governments to meet the diverse and competing aspirations of all their people. Often, as in the case of Balkans, those struggles turned horribly violent, with religion politicised as a marker of identity. Of course, the lessons of our own European history are seminal when trying to understand the transformations shaping the Middle East today. Revolutions are never simple and straightforward affairs. The Reign of Terror and the Vendée in France at the end of the 18th century were perhaps the beginning in our own modern era. Continue reading “Bishop of Wakefield leads debate on religious freedom in the Middle East and North Africa”