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Overseas Oppression and Discrimination

Oral Answers to Questions — Church Commissioners – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 26th October 2017.

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Photo of Theresa Villiers Theresa Villiers Conservative, Chipping Barnet 12:00 am, 26th October 2017

What steps the Church of England is taking to support Christians facing oppression and discrimination abroad.

Photo of Caroline Spelman Caroline Spelman The Second Church Estates Commissioner

This is an excellent and timely question, because tomorrow marks International Freedom of Religion or Belief Day, and the Church of England has been supporting a number of events, not least the one held in your house yesterday, Mr Speaker. There will also be a debate on this subject later today. The Church remains concerned about the increasing attacks on Christian communities around the world and continues to assist the International Panel of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief.

Photo of Theresa Villiers Theresa Villiers Conservative, Chipping Barnet

Will my right hon. Friend tell us what the Church is doing to help internally displaced Christian communities return to their homes in northern Iraq?

Photo of Caroline Spelman Caroline Spelman The Second Church Estates Commissioner

I have raised with the Department for International Development on number of occasions the need to help Christians return to their ancient homeland. I can tell my right hon. Friend that the Nineveh Reconstruction Committee, which is a collaboration between the Chaldean Church, the Syrian Catholic Church and the Syrian Orthodox Church, has so far restored 1,700 properties, enabling just over 4,700 Christian families to return home.

Photo of Ian Paisley Jnr Ian Paisley Jnr Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Culture, Media and Sport)

Next week marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. What is the Church doing to promote and celebrate an event that led to major religious and social freedom in this nation?

Photo of Caroline Spelman Caroline Spelman The Second Church Estates Commissioner

There are already a number of events to mark the Reformation. Indeed, you can hardly fail to turn on the radio without hearing about the commemoration of this great occasion. However, in the spirit of the question, I want to share with the House something that a Minister of State said yesterday at the reception in the Speaker’s house: “It is incumbent on us all—all of us of faith and those of no faith—to speak up for the tolerance to hear each other.”