Magazine article The Spectator

Persecuting Christians

Magazine article The Spectator

Persecuting Christians

Article excerpt

It's all in the voice. Some presenters have it. Others just don't quite draw you in;

the voice is too abrasive, too knowing.

Edward Stourton definitely has it. A quiet authority, a questing intelligence, but more than that a willingness to share, to enter into a conversation with those whom he hopes will be listening. On Tuesday he took us to Iraq, and to yet another unforeseen consequence of the 2003 invasion.

The Archbishop of Canterbury had already touched upon this in Easter Monday's controversial edition of Start the Week from Lambeth Palace, when he began by reminding us that many Christians in the world are experiencing a throwback to the perilous conditions of the first and second centuries AD. Locked doors, Jesus's resurrection appearances in secret rooms . . . these are suddenly no longer abstract ideas, says the Archbishop, in places such as Baghdad where Christians are being persecuted for their faith just like the early disciples. In stressing their own Christian vocation, Bush and Blair have unwittingly led to a huge exodus of Christians from the ancient lands of Mesopotamia, home to Christian communities for 2,000 years. It's no longer safe to be a Christian in the very parts of the Middle East where the faith was born.

This dusty and depressing discussion between the Archbishop, Andrew Marr and the other guests on Monday's programme was brought vividly to life the next day by Ed and his producer (David Coomes) in Iraq's Forgotten Conflict (Radio 4). Ed began by talking to Canon Andrew White, the larger-than-life vicar of the Anglican Church of St George, Baghdad. There's hardly a person in his church, built as a memorial to the British soldiers who died in Iraq during the first world war, who has not lost a member of their family to the persecutions, which began after the invasion of 2003. …

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