Photo Credit: Diocese of Raiwind
[Episcopal News Service] Bishop Samuel Azariah of the Church of Pakistan addressed The Episcopal Church’s General Convention’s Legislative Committee on World Mission on 26 June. He spoke about the persecuted Christian population in Pakistan, one of the world’s epicentres for terrorism where minorities are targeted by religious extremists for having different beliefs or affiliations.
He also spoke about the draconian Pakistani blasphemy law that identifies it as a crime to defile the Holy Quran, with a possible sentence of life imprisonment, while offenses against the Prophet Muhammad may be punishable by death.
Yet the Pakistani Christian community – 1.5 per cent of 180 million people – remains steadfast in faith despite the daily persecution they face, he said.
Azariah commended proposed General Convention Resolution D035 urging continued solidarity with the Christian community in Pakistan and calling on the Government of Pakistan to ensure adequate protections for all religious minorities, “specifically with respect to the prevention of the abduction, forced conversion to Islam and forced marriage of young women from minority religious communities.”
Azariah told the world mission committee that prayer and advocacy are important, but he said that the partnerships with The Episcopal Church are “very loose and not well organized,” calling on Episcopalians to arrange mission trips and visit the Church of Pakistan. That sort of action, he said, is the kind of solidarity Pakistani Christians need during this difficult time.