#RedWednesday casts light on persecution

by Gregory Tomlin, |
Parliament is lit red to commemorate the suffering of religious martyrs worldwide. | acnuk.org

LONDON (Christian Examiner) – In April the Catholic faithful in Rome remembered the persecuted church by lighting the famed Trevi Fountain with blood red light.

Now, familiar landmarks in London have also been washed with the same hue to commemorate the church's recent martyrs and draw attention to the plight of Christians still persecuted in the modern world.

The project which painted the buildings with light Nov. 23, on #RedWednesday, is part of a worldwide movement launched by Aid to the Church in Need, a Catholic charity which works in more than 140 countries worldwide.

"We hope that the ACN red bus as it travels London on Red Wednesday will highlight the very real and pressing issue of those suffering because they are persecuted today for their peacefully held beliefs," Neville Kyrke-Smith, ACN's national director in Great Britain, said.

"We will invite all those, whether Christian or other faiths to attend and show their support for the right of a person to practice their religion in peace."

According to the Anglican Communion News Service, the Palace of Westminster, Westminster Abbey and Westminster Catholic Cathedral were lit, while some of Parliament was, as well. Even though the Anglican Communion is not Roman Catholic, its ties to the old Roman church are growing stronger.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby also demonstrated his support for the display. He said that the Anglican Church had taken time during communion to minister to the persecuted church around the world in prayer.

"We prayed for all victims of religious violence around the world - and for governments too," Welby said.

According to The Telegraph, the Wednesday date was chosen because it would be followed by a report Thursday – Thanksgiving Day for Americans – on the worst violators of religious liberty worldwide. The day is also St. Clement's Day, which commemorates the martyrdom of the early pope.

Aid to the Church in Need's report will highlight the conditions unfavorable to Christianity in 38 countries, all of which are locations were there have been significant violations of religious liberty.

It focuses on 23 of the worst offenders, which include Sudan, Yemen and Eritrea – all locations were al Qaeda and the Islamic State have gained footholds.

In addition to Welby's comment, Bishop Anba Angaleos, who oversees the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom said via social media that he saw the buildings being lit red as a "symbol of solidarity with those deprived of their religious freedom."

Christian leaders gathered Thursday to accept the findings of the report and call for greater levels of religious tolerance for Christians in war-torn regions of the Middle East and North Africa.

Sarah Berstein, director-general of the Jerusalem Center for Jewish-Christian Relations, said she was supportive of the #RedWednesday campaign, as did Umar Al-Qadri Ameer, head imam of the Al-Mustafa Islamic Educational & Cultural Center in Ireland.