By Bob Allen
Leaders of three British religious bodies issued a joint statement March 15 calling on the United Nations Security Council to condemn Syria’s violent suppression of a year-long uprising that has left more than 8,000 dead.
Jonathan Edwards, general secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain, joined Methodist and United Reformed Church heads urging the U.N. to “unequivocally condemn Syria’s state-sanctioned attacks on its own people.”
“We are concerned that, should diplomatic initiatives fail and the opposition groups achieve success in securing support for arms, the violence could escalate still further,” the leaders said. “Our prayers are for a halt to the bloodshed and for diplomacy and mediation to offer a way forward for the Syrian people.”
The religious leaders voiced particular concern that Syria’s minority Christian population “can live in security and peace under the law.”
The European Baptist Federation issued a similar statement March 6, voicing “grave concern” about the deteriorating situation in Syria. Observers say that protests demanding removal of President Bashar Assad could escalate into civil war.
EBF member the Syrian Baptist Convention has 13 churches with 600 members. The largest Baptist church is in the city of Homs, where some of the worst fighting has taken place. The EBF said there are concerns about religious freedom however the struggle turns, noting that in other areas of conflict in the Middle East, such as Iraq, Christians have been leaving in large numbers.
“The EBF urges prayer for the whole situation in Syria, for an end to the fighting, and that a peaceful outcome may be found to the conflict,” said the March 6 statement. “We pray for our Baptists and other Christian churches that in this situation they may be able to continue their witness to Christ, the Prince of Peace.”