A Labour Government will create a special envoy to campaign on behalf of persecuted Christians and other religious minorities around the world, according to Jim Murphy.
In a letter to Free Church of Scotland Moderator Rev David Miller, the Scottish Labour Party leader said he was “furious at the persecution and the plight of large sections of the international Christian community”.
The development was revealed as the Free Church published responses from the main UK political leaders on its website about issues affecting Christians at home as well as overseas ahead of the general election.
Jim Murphy told Rev David Miller: “The Labour Party is furious at the persecution and the plight of large sections of the international Christian community.
“Christians are subject to violence, intimidation and discrimination in more than 50 countries.
“Douglas Alexander, Shadow Foreign Secretary, has confirmed that a Labour Government will appoint a Global Envoy for Religious Freedom, reporting directly to the Foreign Secretary.
Christians are subject to violence, intimidation and discrimination in more than 50 countries.”Jim Murphy
“He says, ‘At this time of great peril, I deeply regret that the British Government seems to be stepping back, rather than stepping up. Other governments are showing stronger leadership. The United States and Canada have both appointed international ambassadors for tackling Religious Persecution. The UK having fallen behind, should now follow suit.’”
The Scottish Labour Party leader added: “In addition the Government should be doing more to try and harness the concern, expertise and understanding of faith leaders from across the UK and beyond.
“Therefore Labour would also establish a multi-faith advisory council on religious freedom within the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.”
The SNP wrote that “no one should have to face threats of violence for practicing their faith” whilst the Conservative Party said that their manifesto stated they “remain committed to doing what we can to support those Christians persecuted because of their faith” including emergency humanitarian aid.
Ruth Davidson, leader of the Scottish Conservatives, added that the persecution Christians around the world faced, through displacement, forced conversions or brutal violence, are “simply intolerable”.
Rev David Miller, Moderator of the Free Church of Scotland, said: “We appreciate the acknowledgement from UK parties that more needs to be done to protect the rights of persecuted Christians around the world.
“The Free Church would welcome the opportunity to work alongside our politicians on this important issue.
“Like the referendum, there is no Biblical warrant on who to vote for, and it is a matter of prayerful consideration and personal conscience for our people.
“We hope the responses from the parties will help Christians make an informed choice, and while we are not telling people who to vote for, it is essential that everyone makes their voice heard and votes.”
Last year over 100,000 Christians were killed for their faith, and followers of Christ face official discrimination in 139 countries – over 75 per cent of the world. The stark figures make Christians the most persecuted people group in the world by quite some way.
Earlier this year the Free Church’s Moderator Designate Rev David Robertson urged parties to appoint an envoy to fight to the right of persecuted Christians.
Mr Robertson suggested the UK and Scottish Governments “could put pressure on ‘friendly’ nations who continue to discriminate against Christians” and that they should “refuse aid to countries where such discrimination is enshrined in law”.