Statement on the plight of Christians & other minorities in Iraq

Christians are suffering and dying in Iraq. The terrorist group Islamic State (IS, formerly known as ISIS) is killing them, displacing them and seizing their properties. Now Iraq’s ancient Yazidi community is experiencing similar abuses.


This is a catastrophe for the people of Iraq and the region and if left unchecked it could also have profound implications for freedom and democracy across the globe. Religious freedom is a fundamental right that has been described as a ‘litmus test’ for the depth of democracy. That’s why attacks on this right cannot be ignored.


We believe that if Western governments allow groups like IS to persecute populations with impunity, it will set a dangerous precedent in global affairs. The situation in Iraq is particularly important because Western governments were complicit in creating the vacuum into which the terrorists have now stepped. It is unacceptable for Western governments that embarked on the process of bringing freedom and human rights to Iraq to continue neglecting this situation. It is vital that all of Iraq's religious and ethnic minorities are guaranteed a future in their country.


The UN Secretary General and Security Council have urged international assistance for the Iraqi government and people. Therefore, we call upon our own government to provide practical assistance for those displaced by the current violence who wish to remain in their country. We also echo the call of the Church of England for Iraqi Christian refugees and those from other minority communities who wish to escape persecution to be granted asylum in the United Kingdom in accordance with the international refugee convention.


Events in Iraq form part of a broader pattern of increasing persecution of Christians and other religious minorities. In many countries, including Syria, Iran, Nigeria, Mali, CAR, Sudan, Libya, Algeria, Egypt, Indonesia, Kenya, Somalia and Afghanistan, well-armed Islamist extremists are not only persecuting Christians severely, but are also violating the rights of all who do not share their restrictive dogma. The international community must unite and take action to stem the seemingly inexorable advance of violent insurgencies that use religion to justify their severe violations of fundamental freedoms and their wanton disregard for human dignity. Western governments have a responsibility to play a leading role in this action. And taking a stand on Iraq needs to be the starting point.

The Religious Liberty Commission (RLC), formed in 2012, exists to bring organisations working on behalf of persecuted Christians together to speak with one voice. RLC members are: Release International, Open Doors (UK & Ireland), Christian Solidarity Worldwide and the Evangelical Alliance (UK).  
Each member organisation has its own distinctive mandate but we all feel the issue of Christian persecution is so important that we want to speak together regularly to raise awareness of key developments globally, in a significant and collaborative way.
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++Justin Addresses National Prayer Breakfast

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, delivered a keynote speech this morning on 'Global Christianity in the 21st Century' at the National Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast, Westminster - the first time an Archbishop of Canterbury has addressed the event. 

The Prayer Breakfast, organised by Christians in Parliament and the Bible Society, was attended by both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition for the first time in its history.

In his address the Archbishop said:

"The Church of the 21st century is among the most efficient and the best deliverers of help for the poor that exists on the face of the earth... Isn’t it wonderful, let’s celebrate what’s good – it’s easy to be cynical about politics – but let’s celebrate what’s good: that with cross-party support in this country we have maintained international aid at 0.7 per cent of GDP. That we have introduced – again, across the parties – the Modern Slavery Bill, leading the world and tackling trafficking, which I was talking to the Pope about yesterday. That last week, again across politics, there was support for the greatest conference on sexual violence in conflict that has existed. Those aren’t cynical vote winners, from any politician in this room; but they arise from a spirit of generosity, which is right and proper...."

"...The church is not an NGO with lots of old buildings. It is the Church of God, rejoicing in the realities of cultural diversity in a way never known before: global, cross-bearing, confident and welcoming. The Church holds for the world the treasure of reconciliation, and offers it as a gift freely given out of its own experience of struggling with the reality of it, of being reconciled ourselves through the sovereign love of God in Jesus Christ. The global Church is above all God's church, for all its failings, and in passionate devotion to him will offer the treasure He puts in our hands, unconditionally, always pointing in worship, deed and word to Jesus Christ."

A full transcript of the Archbishop's address, as delivered, is available on his website, here.

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What are we going to do about Ukip?

EU09UKIP1.pngWhat are we going to do about UKIP? It is clear that there is strong support for the ‘anti-Europe’ sentiment in most areas in our country. I live in a relatively safe Labour area in Leeds and UKIP increased their vote share (of those who actually voted) by more than 20% for the local elections, and got three of the six seats up for grabs in Europe. I think this is quite worrying, but if we are going to win the next general election we need to have a clear positive agenda.

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Read our newsletter online

Just a quick note to let you know that you can read our latest newsletter online by clicking here

You can also see the previous issue on the same page. As time passes, we will build an archive of Christians on the Left publications to read online.

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Keep focused on the mission

After Labour lost the 2010 General Election we realised we needed to reconnect politics with people. We needed to rebuild a broad-based coalition around our values that was inclusive and which gave a voice to many who felt politics no longer did anything for them. It would be a real shame if Labour let these results tempt it away from this mission.


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A tale from the campaign trail

Hitchin_campaigning_3.jpgRachel Burgin selected as parliamentary candidate in Hitchin & Harpenden

On 29th March 2014, Rachel Burgin was selected as the prospective parliamentary candidate for the Hitchin & Harpenden constituency. She is tasked with taking on Peter Lilley MP at the next General Election. This is her story.

There is a school of thought that says Christians shouldn’t get involved in social action: they should simply preach the gospel. That’s right: no foodbanks, homelessness shelters, debt advice services, no rebuilding Iraq and Afghanistan after the wars, no feeding the hungry in Africa. Just tell people about Jesus: pure and simple.

My life over the last ten years has a different message. I’m not a “career politician”: I didn’t plan to come this way. I just set out to serve God in the best way I could.


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Shane Claiborne talks to Christians on the Left

Watch our video

Shane Claiborne is the visionary leader of The Simple Way, a faith community in inner city Philadelphia that has helped birth and connect radical faith communities around the world.

Shane writes and travels extensively speaking about peacemaking, social justice, and Jesus. Shane’s books include Jesus for President, Red Letter Revolution, Common Prayer, Follow Me to Freedom,Jesus, Bombs and Ice Cream, Becoming the Answer to Our Prayers – and his classic The Irresistible Revolution.

While on tour with Christians on the Left Director Andy Flannagan, they took time out to chat about economics, neighbourhood, politics, faith, and fun.

You can watch it here

If ever there was a video that is worth sharing, this would be it. 

Take ten minutes to be encouraged over this Bank Holiday weekend. Then share it as widely as you can!!! We are attracting plenty of new members via Twitter and Facebook, but it only works when members do the sharing!!!

Here's a URL for your tweets, posts and shares:

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Easter message from Ed Miliband

As Christians across Great Britain and the rest of the world gather to celebrate the most important event in the Christian faith, I would like to wish you all a happy Easter.
It was a privilege for me to visit the Holy Land in the lead up to Easter this year. I will be thinking of Palestinian and Israeli Christians in particular at this time, many of whom are unable to celebrate Easter in Jerusalem.
For hundreds of years people have celebrated Easter. It is a powerful story that speaks of hope born in sacrifice.  Here in Britain I see that hope in the actions of Christians and others up and down the United Kingdom who give their time volunteering in projects such as food banks, debt-counselling centres, and youth work projects. So often their sacrifice of time, expertise and energy is not recognised - but Easter is a good time to do exactly that. As local services are withdrawn, some communities are reliant on the support of churches and their programmes.
I also see hope in the thousands who spend their time not fighting for their own rights, but instead speaking up for those who cannot speak for themselves, crying out against injustice. It is encouraging to note the Gather conference happening in London later this month, bringing together the church networks from all over the UK which are supporting this type of work.
As I see communities coming together to give hope to others, the challenge to those of us who are politicians is to be servant leaders – leaders who are called to roll up our sleeves to serve, who will identify with the struggles of ordinary people, and will strive for fairness and equality.
I want to end by wishing you, your families and your friends a peaceful and joyful Easter.

- Ed Miliband

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A bit of Easter joy

With the Easter holidays fast approaching Andrew Pakes, Labour's Parliamentary Candidate for Milton Keynes South and long-time friend of Christians on the Left, has joined with Waitrose staff to donate some chocolate eggs for MK Foodbank.

MK Foodbank has reported that demand is up 70 percent compared to this time last year as many families still struggle to make ends meet 

Andrew approached Waitrose to ask for a donation to help ensure the children of parents receiving help from the foodbank did not miss out this Easter. The store donated 100 Easter eggs and Andrew is asking for more donations to ensure every child gets a treat over Easter. 

Andrew commented:

"I would like to thank the partners at Waitrose for their kind donation of Easter Eggs. Many families are still facing a tough time in Milton Keynes and will be relying on help from MK Foodbank to get through the Easter holiday. 

"I am delighted Waitrose have helped kick start the Easter Egg appeal to make sure children whose parents are relying on MK Foodbank also get a treat this holiday season. 

"The foodbank is always looking for donations of food, not just Easter Eggs, so pleased get involved and help make a donation if you can."

You can read more about this story on the MK News website by clicking here.

You can find out how to donate to MK Foodbank by clicking here.

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Faith in Europe

Christian Progressive Politics and the looming battle over Europe

Eu-ties.jpgLast month's debate on Europe between Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage didn't stir many passions on the left. This week's second-leg of the 'Nick and Nigel show' could be dismissed by many of us as a circus sideshow, save serving to reinforce the importance of the European dimension to so many aspects of government and our lives. As we move closer to May's European election and the looming possibility of a referendum this may be no bad thing.

Highlighting popular discontent with Europe has been a popular rallying-cry for the right wing in Britain for decades. Broadly speaking four decades after membership the European Union as it is now called remains a largely un-loved institution in Britain, the punch-bag of populist right-wing press, the bug-bear of successive governments.

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