from Christian Concern:
The following article is adapted from Christian Concern’s response to the Foreign Affairs Committee’s Human rights: Freedom of religion and belief, and human rights defenders inquiry.
You can read the full response here.
One of the recommendations of the Bishop of Truro’s Independent Review for the Foreign Secretary of FCO Support for Persecuted Christians was to:
“Name the phenomenon of Christian discrimination and persecution and undertake work to identify its particular character alongside similar definitions for other religions, to better inform and develop tailored FCO policies to address these.”
The Foreign Secretary at the time, Jeremy Hunt, responded to this by saying that we should use the label ‘Christophobia’.
At Christian Concern, we agree that the phenomenon should be named, but object to persecution of (or discrimination against) Christians being labelled ‘Christophobia’ for the following reasons:
1. ‘Phobias’ are irrational fears
A ‘phobia’ is strictly an ‘irrational fear’, which is not an accurate term for persecution or discrimination. Fear alone, whether rational or irrational, is not the matter at hand – violence and discrimination is.
The use of phobia terms to describe this and other forms of hatred or discrimination unhelpfully conflates internal feelings or thoughts (dislike, fear, hatred) with external actions (discrimination, persecution, violence).
As a parallel, coveting and jealousy may lead someone to steal another person’s property. But that doesn’t mean we rename car theft ‘vehicle-jealousy’. To do so would miss the point and make false assumptions – not everyone who is jealous steals, and not every car is stolen because of the thief’s jealousy.