A senior Labor Party official in Britain is urging politicians to stop being afraid of discussing faith and to voice their outrage at the persecution of Christians in the Middle East.
“In the UK today, perhaps through a misplaced sense of political correctness, or some sense of embarrassment at ‘doing God’ in an age when secularism is more common, too many politicians seem to fear discussing any matters related to faith,” Member of Parliament Douglas Alexander, who serves as Labor’s shadow foreign secretary, wrote in an opinion piece in the Telegraph on Saturday evening.
In an accompanying news report, the Telegraph explained that Alexander’s carefully-chosen words were “a thinly-veiled attack on the Tony Blair era, when Alastair Campbell, the then communications director in Downing Street, said ‘we don’t do God.’”
“So the growing persecution of Christians around the world remains a story that goes largely untold, as does proper discussion of its complex roots and causes,” Alexander wrote.
“Across the world, there will be Christians this week for whom attending a church service this Christmas is not an act of faithful witness, but an act of life-risking bravery. That cannot be right, and we need the courage to say so,” the Labor Party lawmaker wrote.
Alexander’s call comes just days after Prince Charles warned that Christianity is starting to disappear from the Middle East where Jesus was born due to a campaign of persecution by Muslims. The heir to the throne discussed his own faith, calling Middle Eastern Christians “brothers and sisters in Christ.”
Echoing the British royal, MP Alexander wrote, “How many of us are aware that, while the first Christmas took place in the Middle East, there today that same faith is under threat?”
“But why, when popes and princes are speaking up, have so many politicians here in the UK forsaken speaking out?” Alexander challenged his colleagues.
Alexander cited statistics that reflect the extent of the crisis. Since the start of the Syria conflict in March 2011, he wrote, more than 450,000 Christians have fled the country.
He also quoted a Pew Center study which reported that Christians are “the most widely persecuted religious group in the world.” Of the 160 countries where religious groups faced harassment, “Christians were harassed in the largest number of countries,” Alexander wrote.
That persecution has hit close to home for Alexander. A member of his denomination, the Church of Scotland, lost family members during the suicide bombing attack of a church in Peshawar, Pakistan in September.
Pakistani officials called it the deadliest-ever attack on the country’s Christian minority.
Alexander wrote that Rev. Aftab Gohar of the Church of Scotland learned that his 79-year-old mother, his nephew, niece, two uncles and other friends and relatives were among those killed.
“Rev Gohar is blessed with a strength of faith that enables him to offer forgiveness to those who have killed his family members – a powerful statement, bearing testimony to the enduring capacity of faith to nurture reconciliation,” the Labor Party politician wrote.
Alexander called on people of faith as well as atheists to speak up.
“People of all faiths and none should be horrified by this persecution. We cannot, and we must not, stand by on the other side in silence for fear of offense,” he wrote.
The Telegraph reported that Catholic convert Tony Blair has said he wasn’t open about his faith while prime minister because he though voters would think he was a “nutter.”
“However, he said that his faith was ‘hugely important’ in influencing his decisions as prime minister,” the Telegraph added.
Alexander has spent time in the U.S. and even attended the Democratic National Convention last year and wrote about his experiences in the British media.