A Church of Scotland official has warned that Christians overseas may be facing the backlash following the death of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
The overseas department for the Church of Scotland, the World Mission Council, has already received reports from its partners in Pakistan that communities have been under siege, with many unable to leave their homes for fear of reprisals.
Reverend John Chalmers, Principal Clerk of the Church of Scotland, has written to the Bishop of Lahore assuring him of the Church’s prayers at this difficult time.
Mr Chalmers said: “I write today following this event and other events of recent days to express our solidarity and support for the Church of Pakistan and stand together with you, your congregations and the whole Christian community in Pakistan.
“We are aware of your increased vulnerability at this time and are praying for your safety and security.
“As members of one family, when you are troubled, we too feel your pain.
“Jesus said ‘blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God’ and together with you we continue to pray for peace in our world today.”
One partner from Gujranwala, where tensions are already heated following a spate of recent incidents, said that the lives and properties of thousands of Christians are in grave danger and that a seminary and other Christian institutions in the area are prime targets.
In 1800, an estimated 2,500 Christians died as a result of opposition to their faith. In 2009 this figure rose to an alarming 176,000.
At a day conference held in Perth in 2009, the Right Reverend Mano Rumalshah, former Bishop of Peshawar in Pakistan, spoke movingly of threats to the lives of clergy within his diocese and of a struggle to support those who, on converting from Islam to Christianity, are rejected by their families and left facing death threats and destitution.
At last year’s General Assembly the Church of Scotland voted to stand in solidarity with its Christian brothers and sisters facing persecution abroad.
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For more information, or a copy of the letter, please contact the Church of Scotland communications department on 0131 240 2204