Canada - Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper is following the lead of the George W. Bush administration and preparing to set up an Office of Religious Freedom, to focus on religious hate around the world. Religious persecution and harassment is an increasingly serious issue around the planet, affecting Christians, Muslims, Jews and many others, including Bahais and Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Although those behind the Office of Religious Freedom have been accused of favoring evangelical Christians, since PM Stephen Harper and many of his MPs belong to the same religious group, an article in The United Church Observer by Mike Milne takes a nuanced look at that ongoing debate and others. Milne’s helpful piece is titled “Compassion for the Persecuted?” The cutline under the photo says, “Canada’s new Office of Religious Freedom seems like a great idea. If only we knew what it was going to do.”
Here is one brief excerpt from the article; it’s a useful survey fact regarding the prevalence of religious harassment:
“In 2010, Christians were estimated to comprise 33 percent of the world’s population. The Pew Forum study found that Christians were harassed in more countries — 130 — than any other faith group. Muslims, harassed in 117 countries, were second. And although Jews make up only about one percent of the world’s population, they are fourth on the list, harassed in 75 countries.”