Budapest, HUNGARY — The British Foreign Office has joined other governments and groups in the annual “Red Wednesday” global campaign to protest Christian persecution by lighting up monuments and landmarks in red.
Red Wednesday is promoted by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) and Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) to highlight the plight of Christians around the world. Currently, some 245 million Christians around the globe face “severe persecution” for their faith in Jesus and on average 11 Christians are killed each day.
Red Wednesday also falls in the middle of a major, 4-day international conference on Christian persecution taking place in Budapest this week, featuring the presence of dozens of patriarchs, cardinals, prelates, government officials, and clergy from areas such as the Middle East, India, and Africa, where the persecution of Christians is most acute.
The British government has endorsed Red Wednesday for the first time this year, which has been credited as fruit of the ground-breaking independent inquiry into the persecution of Christians commissioned by the UK Foreign Office and led by the Anglican Bishop of Truro, Philip Mounstephen.
It is an “inconvenient truth that the overwhelming majority of persecuted religious believers are Christians,” the 2019 report stated, adding that 80 percent of people facing religious persecution around the world are Christians.
“Persecution on grounds of religious faith is a global phenomenon that is growing in scale and intensity,” said Bishop Philip.
“Though it is impossible to know the exact numbers of people persecuted for their faith, based on reports from different NGOs, it is estimated that one third of the world’s population suffers from religious persecution in some form, with Christians being the most persecuted group,” he said.
Meanwhile, in the Philippines, more than 2,000 Catholic churches and schools around the country will take part in the observance of Red Wednesday, where churches will be illuminated by red lights and participants are encouraged to wear red to mark the event.
In Ireland, Armagh Archbishop Eamon Martin will lead a “Liturgy of Witness” in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral to celebrate Red Wednesday as part of a “Week of Witness” to stand in solidarity with “our persecuted brothers and sisters in faith across the world,” the Irish Bishops Conference said.
“Many churches and public buildings in Ireland and Britain are being lit up in red this week, and people are encouraged to wear a red item of clothing to help shine a light on the reality of Christian persecution across the world, and to highlight the injustices perpetrated against other minority and faith groups,” said Archbishop Martin.
“I thank God for the freedom of worship and religion that we enjoy on this island, a freedom that we did not always enjoy and which is denied so many people in our world today,” he said. “I recognise that to be like Christ in an increasingly secularised world means being different, counter-cultural, and not easily swayed by the prevailing attitudes and opinions around us.”
The archbishop went on to urge Christians to pray for the gift of courage and loyalty to Christ for Christians all over the world and especially for those who continue to be “challenged, attacked, displaced or even murdered for what they believe in.”