The Houses of Parliament and London Eye were among a selection of the capital’s landmarks that were lit red on Wednesday night to honour those persecuted for their faith.
Westminster Abbey, Westminster Cathedral and Lambeth Palace joined churches in turning red to commemorate persecuted Christians.
The move was part of Aid to the Church in Need’s #RedWednesday campaign, which aims to show solidarity with people who experience religious persecution. The group also asked supporters to participate in the Red Wednesday campaign by wearing red or using red filters on social media. CUFI-UK has also shown solidarity with persecuted Christians on social media throughout the day.
— ChristiansInGovt UK (@CiGovernment_UK) November 23, 2016
The initiative comes at a time of intense Christian persecution across the Middle East and other parts of the world.
For example, earlier this month a series of terrifying attacks on Christian communities in Nigeria left 45 dead and several more injured.
It is one of many reports of attacks on Christians because of their faith. Christian charity Open Doors states that worldwide there were over 7,000 Christians killed for faith-related reasons in the year – almost 3,000 more than the previous year. Around 2,400 churches were attacked or damaged – over double the number for last year. In terms of violence against Christians and Christian property, Nigeria and Central African Republic top the list.
According to Open Doors World Watch List, Islamic extremism remains by far the most common driver of persecution. A rise in Islamic extremism sees Pakistan at its highest position ever.
Islamic State (IS) has moved beyond Syria and Iraq and into Libya. Boko Haram has spread to Cameroon and Chad, and al-Shabaab into Kenya. Meanwhile, many smaller extremist movements have declared themselves part of the IS group of caliphates.
But it’s not just about Islam. A rise in hardline Hindu nationalism in India has seen churches and pastors attacked with impunity. And North Korea remains the most dangerous place to live as a Christian.
And the world continues to watch as millions of refugees risk the hazardous route to Europe from the Middle East and the Horn of Africa. Their number includes tens of thousands of Christians fleeing war and persecution.
But Christian persecution does not only come in the form of violent attacks. Low-level, localised persecution where Christians are driven out of their communities, refused burial, denied jobs or education are exist. Churches are torn down because of local opposition or mob rule. For millions of Christians, the everyday persecution happens in their village, or even among their family.
As many Christians around the world experience violence, intimidation, harassment and discrimination it is important to pray and speak out on behalf of our Christian brothers and sisters. That is why today CUFI has dedicated the day to standing in solidarity with persecuted Christians.
At a time of increased Christian persecution and anti-Semitism, it is vital that we stand together against this common hatred of what is essentially hatred towards God.
Christians United for Israel UK