Australian Federal MP George Christensen has called for the appointment of an Ambassador for Religious Freedom to combat the persecution of Christians at home and abroad.
The Queensland MP said the situation for many Christians around the world remains dire, noting that a current snapshot by Open Doors reveals 340-million believers are presently suffering harassment or persecution, with one out of eight Christians subject to a “severe form of persecution.”
According to Christensen, radical extremist Islam is responsible for the persecution of Christians in 22 of the worst offending countries. While in the past 20 years, more than 2.4-million Christians have been killed through bombings, shootings, and beheadings.
“At least 75% of all religiously motivated violence and oppression is suffered by Christians,” Christenson said. Noting, “two of the causes of Christian persecution are the rise of authoritarian regimes and also the rise of violent Islamist terror groups or militia.”
Countries, where Christians are currently repressed, include Iraq, Egypt, Nigeria, the Central African Republic, Sudan, India, Pakistan, Burma, Sri Lanka, China, Indonesia, the Philippines, and North Korea.
But Christensen warns religious freedom is also under attack in Australia.
“It’s acknowledged that whilst not always perfect, Australia has a proven record on the protection of freedom of religion and belief,” Christensen said. “Despite the decline of practising Christians, Australia has a good record as a tolerant nation, however, there have been some high profile recent cases that show that religious freedom is also under attack in our country.”
Christensen pointed to recent high profile cases, including that of Archbishop Julian Porteous who was “hauled before an anti-discrimination tribunal for promoting a church booklet on the church teaching on marriage.”
Also mentioned was rugby player, Israel Folau, who “essentially lost his sporting career” after posting a paraphrase of a Bible verse on his social media account.
“On top of these high profile cases, there are many more that go unheard of, and if we are to fix this type of discrimination,” Christensen said, “an appropriate religious discrimination bill is needed in this country. But abroad Christian suffering is much, much worse. In fact, as I’ve outlined, it’s a matter of life or death.”
Christensen continued: “With no mainstream media coverage, we must ensure this crisis of Christian persecution gets the attention it deserves. A good start would be the appointment of an Ambassador for Religious Freedom for this country.”
The ambassador, Christensen said, would serve to monitor abuse and violence as a result of religious persecution, harassment, and discrimination worldwide and “recommend, develop, and implement policies and programs to address ongoing and serious issues.”
Adding, “Such an ambassador would ensure there’s a dedicated role for advocacy, research, policy implementation, and diplomatic engagement with states engaging in persecution. An ambassador would provide a pathway for engagement with oppressive regimes, as well as providing a mechanism to challenge violent ideologies that target Christians. An ambassador would also promote universal respect for freedom of religion or belief as a core objective of our national and foreign policy.”
Christensen’s full speech can be viewed below. The website StopThePersecution.com has also been set up with more details on the current global crisis.