No one should decry the Foreign Secretary’s pledge to defend persecuted Christians. But for the FCO there are antecedent conceptual problems which need to be addressed.
Religious freedom is more than the toleration of acts of worship. It is the right of religious people to proclaim their faith in the marketplace, and to put it into action, where possible, in changes of public policy. As hysterical reactions by the British media to Jacob Rees Mogg’s views on abortion have recently demonstrated, even in so-called ‘open’ democracies such rights are being constantly eroded.
Attitudes to abortion are presently for us the litmus test of religious toleration. Upon the inadmissibility of abortion, other than in extreme and exceptional circumstances, the world’s great religions are generally agreed. The matter is thus in danger of becoming the locus of a life and death struggle between religious faith and the functionalist post-Enlightenment ethic of the emerging West.
Unless government can address this emotive area, and in doing so protect existing freedoms and rights, what price success on a wider, global scale?