The Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged in his first Christmas greeting to defend and help persecuted Christians around the world: “Today of all days, I want us to remember those Christians around the world who are facing persecution,” he said. “For them, Christmas Day will be marked in private, in secret, perhaps even in a prison cell. As Prime Minister, that’s something I want to change. We stand with Christians everywhere, in solidarity, and will defend your right to practice your faith.”
In the temporal realm, the success or otherwise of Boris Johnson’s premiership will be measured by Brexit, and by that measure it is already the most successful premiership since that of Margaret Thatcher. But in the spiritual realm, it will be measured by the spread of freedom, and in particular the freedom of Christians to practise their faith both here and abroad. According to Open Doors, the suffering of Christians is the most extreme it has been throughout all history. A Foreign Office report by the Bishop of Truro Philip Mounstephen revealed that around 245 million Christians suffer “high levels of persecution” in 50 countries, a rise of 30 million year on year. Bishop Philip has suggested sanctions against such countries, which Boris Johnson appears prepared to do. How else will he change hearts and minds?
Here is his Christmas message:
Hi folks, Boris Johnson here, taking a moment to wish you all a merry little Christmas.
It’s that special time of year when, whatever has gone before, we can take an opportunity to celebrate all that is good in the world and to spend time with our friends and family.
Christmas Day is, first and foremost, a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. It is a day of inestimable importance to billions of Christians the world over.
I hope you are all enjoying a wonderful break with your loved ones, sharing gifts and tucking into some delicious food.
Of course, as many of us are enjoying a break at this time of year, let’s not forget all those who have selflessly put their celebrations on hold.
On behalf of the whole country I want to say a huge thank you to our amazing NHS staff, many of whom will be working throughout the holidays to take care of us. Thank you also to our police, and all those public servants working tirelessly this Christmas.
I also want to express my personal gratitude to the wonderful members of our Armed Forces currently on deployment – and therefore to their friends, family and children back home who will have an empty chair at the table when they tuck in to their Christmas dinner.
Today of all days, I want us to remember those Christians around the world who are facing persecution. For them, Christmas Day will be marked in private, in secret, perhaps even in a prison cell.
As Prime Minister, that’s something I want to change. We stand with Christians everywhere, in solidarity, and will defend your right to practise your faith.
So as a country let us reflect on the year, and celebrate the good that is to come.
Folks, I hope you enjoy the next few days.
Try not to have too many arguments with the in-laws, or anyone else.
And whoever you are, wherever you are, and however you’re celebrating, have a very happy Christmas, and I’ll see you all again in the New Year.
This is rather encouraging. Wouldn’t it be a remarkable thing if the first non-Christian prime minister since Winston Churchill did more to aid the plight of persecuted Christians than all those professing Christian prime ministers who have come and gone meanwhile?
But as Boris Johnson reiterates, “Christmas Day is, first and foremost, a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.”
A blessed and very Merry Christmas to all readers and communicants.