“We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer
We advocate on behalf of our persecuted church family, in order to bring about an end to the structural injustices that perpetuate persecution.
The Open Doors advocacy team works with MPs, civil servants, NGOs, parliamentarians, Lords and other decision makers in order to influence the UK Government on Article 18 human rights – the international right to freedom of religion or belief. This is done through three interlocking strands: quiet diplomacy, campaigning and collaborating with other organisations.
Quiet diplomacy ensures that the voices of the oppressed are heard by those who have the power to make a difference. We seek opportunities to be involved in important conversations, aiming to influence opinion, present the reality of the persecuted church, and suggest steps forward.
One voice makes a difference, but many voices joined together can create a movement for change. We galvanise the united cry of supporters to provide the necessary weight to our quiet diplomacy, so that those in power listen and act on our policy recommendations.
Wherever possible, we seek to work alongside other organisations in order to create the largest impact. Among other collaborations, Open Doors is a stakeholder of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom of Religion or Belief and the Religious Liberty Commission of the Evangelical Alliance, where Open Doors joined Christian Solidarity Worldwide and Release International to provide a united voice for the persecuted church.
Here is an example of the impact we’ve recently seen and how it all fits together.
- Brother: Vunnam Daniel was a Dalit Christian – the lowest of India’s castes and a religious minority. When he was robbed and murdered, the police took little interest and denied his claims for help before he died. Daniel’s neighbours were very suspicious that Daniel had been exploited and the case had been ignored– questioning the police’s impartiality in the case. In fact, when asked about what happened, his neighbours responded, “this is what you get if you are a Dalit and a Christian in this country”.
- Church family: 260 million Christians face high to extreme levels of persecution for their faith, like Daniel.
- We report it: Every year, Open Doors advocacy team publishes the World Watch List report. This documents the 50 places in the world where it is hardest to be a Christian. Daniel’s story was used in these reports to explain persecution in India.
- Supporters campaign: Open Doors launches the World Watch List report in Parliament annually. We ask supporters to invite their MPs to this launch, and on average 5,000 emails are sent and many thousands more postcards.
- MPs attend: 97 Parliamentarians attended the most recent Open Doors’ annual World Watch List launch. Here, speakers from the persecuted church share their stories and MPs are given a World Watch List report, which includes Open Doors’ policy recommendations to ensure the persecuted church has a voice.
- Government acts: In 2019, the Foreign Secretary launched a review on the persecution of Christians, which the Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief is now implementing. This was something that Open Doors’ supporters have long called for, alongside other organisations. Both the review and the Envoy role show that the campaigning of NGOs work!
- Impact: The Foreign Office implemented a project to support Dalit Christian in Andhra Pradesh in India, to identify victims of persecution and to help them seek legal advice from minority rights experts. This is where Daniel lived and, had this advice been in place earlier, his life might have been saved. Now it can help many other Christian Dalits in Andhra Pradesh in grave need of support.