Freedom of religion or belief must not be ignored or overlooked, politicians told

The Bishop of Truro, Philip Mounstephen, at the UK government's ministerial on freedom of religion or belief.(Photo: Church of England)

The bishop who oversaw a major government review into Christian persecution and global violations of freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) says the momentum gained around the issue in recent years must not be lost.

Addressing the UK government's FoRB ministerial in London this week, the Bishop of Truro, Philip Mounstephen, said that some good progress had been made since the publication of the report bearing his name in 2019, but that more still needs to be done. 

The Truro review made a number of recommendations to promote and protect FoRB and address Christian persecution, all of which were accepted in full by the UK government. 

The bishop told the ministerial that FoRB must not be allowed to fall off the radar.

"The challenge going forward is to keep up the corporate momentum that has developed around this issue because this is a really, really significant global issue," he said. 

"We must not let it sink back into the place that it was before, largely ignored and overlooked."

He welcomed the creation of the UK Freedom of Religion or Belief Forum established in the wake of his review. It brings together a broad spectrum of civil society groups from faith groups to humanists. 

"I think that is very effective to have that number of groups working together and making common cause," he said.

However, Mounstephen urged parliamentarians to make it a priority to understand what is causing FoRB violations.

"My key message to Parliamentarians would be: understand what the main drivers behind freedom of religion or belief abuses are – we are looking at totalitarian regimes, religious fundamentalism, militant nationalism," he said. 

"These are really serious issues that must be addressed.

"So please parliamentarians, make this a bipartisan issue, espouse it across the political spectrum."