current affairs Religion

Politicians and Christian persecution

Written by Nathan Olsen

The persecution of Christians is a reality in many parts of the world today. In Iraq, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, many adherents to Christianity face abuse and violence because of their beliefs. Yet, the recent focus on the persecution of Christians provided by the former British Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, and the Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán, is not as charitable as it seems.

Selective Action

A recent report by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office suggests that the British government should be willing to impose sanctions on countries that persecute Christians. Out of context, this seems like a fair and sensible thing to do. Yet, Jeremy Hunt’s comments surrounding the launch of the report, that “misguided political correctness…has stopped us standing up for Christians overseas”, strike an unpleasant note. According to Hunt, it is our so-called PC culture that has stopped the government from helping persecuted Christians. How, exactly? Being a decent person doesn’t mean that you don’t want Christians overseas to live happy, prosperous and safe lives. By using “political correctness”, Hunt somehow thinks he can overlook the Islamophobia of his own party and return Britain to it’s so-called Christian roots. This is ironic in a country that has seen a steady decline in members of the Christian faith for the last twenty years.

Playing The Victim

If you thought the selective action of Hunt with regard to persecuted people was bad, you’re right. Yet, Viktor Orbán is even worse. The Hungarian PM presents his own country as the victim of persecution, arguing that migration into Hungary constitutes an invasion and the death of Christianity. Meanwhile, Orbán regards the homeless as criminal, and fails to provide sufficient food for asylum seekers.

An Ironic Tragedy

The great irony of Hunt and Orbán’s rhetoric is that it makes the situation for persecuted Christians worse. Consider the case of Iraqi Christians living in America. Trump promised to protect them, yet is now trying to deport them. Why? For right-wing populists like Trump and Orbán, and to some extent Hunt, Christianity equates to ‘White Christianity’. This means that they are willing to help people, as long as they’re White, Christian and usually, conservative in their beliefs. If Jesus, a political dissident from the Middle East, had asked for help from these people, I’m sure he would have been turned away.