It is time to make UK Overseas Aid contingent on religious liberty
His Grace raised the appalling plight of Meriam Yehya Ibrahim a fortnight ago, and it is heartening to see that The Times and the Prime Minister have caught up with it.
Mr Cameron says the death sentence imposed for apostasy is "barbaric", not least because one can hardly be guilty of apostasy if one was never a Muslim in the first place.
Meriam Ibrahim's father was Muslim, but she was raised by her Christian mother as a Christian, and she married another Christian in 2011. However, the Sudanese courts have decreed that religious belief is heritable through the paternal line; that the father's faith determines that of the children. And so Meriam Ibrahim was a Muslim all along, but she just never knew. So her Christian marriage was annulled and she was sentenced to 100 lashes for adultery and to be hanged for renouncing Islam.
Which she never renounced because she she never embraced it in the first place.
Since His Grace reported on this story, Dr Ibrahim has given birth to a daughter. Here she is with the proud father, who looks a shadow of his former self. The mother's legs were shackled and she remained in prison for the duration of the birth.
Funny, isn't it, how it takes the mainstream media to report on the Islamic persecution of a pregnant Christian woman to elicit substantive responses from David Cameron, Hillary Clinton and a host of celebrities. They tend not to be overly concerned with the persecution of Christian men.
A fortnight ago, all we had from Her Majesty's Government on this case was an expression of "deep concern". Now that The Times, BBC and Hillary Clinton are on board, the Prime Minister is rather more trenchant: "The way she is being treated is barbaric and has no place in today's world," he told the Times. "I urge the government of Sudan to overturn the sentence and immediately provide appropriate support and medical care for her and her children...The UK will continue to press the government of Sudan to act."
The thing is, HM Government (ie UK taxpayers) are giving aid money to Sudan. According to the YouTube news report above, it appears that we don't donate directly, but we do give. His Grace is of the view that a government which is bold enough to make overseas aid contingent on a nation's promotion of gay rights ought equally to ensure that the aid budget is used to promote religious liberty.
If we are truly pursuing equality in international development, why do we penalise those regimes which hang gay teenagers but permit those who behead Christians to continue with impunity? Are Islamic blasphemy laws any less repressive than anti-gay laws? Why are we subsidising the torture and systematic slaughter of our brothers and sisters in Christ?
We have exchanged the eternal Gospel of Salvation for the ephemeral creed of political correctness. We have supplanted the Good News of Christ with universal gay rights. While we are actively bribing developing nations to embrace gay equality, we convey to the world that the life of a Christian is worth less than the life of a homosexual.
Foreign aid is the national expression of love for our neighbour. Love is unintelligible except as a participation in the life of the One who reveals Himself to us. It comes after faith and hope, but it is the greatest and most transformational. David Cameron is right to condemn the death sentence imposed upon Meriam Ibrahim as "barbaric", but he appears not to know that our neighbour is not only the gay man or woman in Uganda, Ghana or Malawi, but also the persecuted Christians in Sudan, North Korea, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Iran, Maldives, Uzbekistan, Yemen, Iraq, Pakistan, Eritrea, Laos, Northern Nigeria, Mauritania, Egypt, Bhutan, Turkmenistan, Vietnam, Chechnya, China, Qatar, Algeria, Comoros, Azerbaijan, Libya, Oman, Brunei, Morocco, Kuwait, Turkey, India, Myanmar, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Syria, United Arab Emirates, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Jordan, Cuba, Belarus, Indonesia, Palestinian Territories, Kazakhstan, Bahrain, Colombia, Kyrgyzstan, Bangladesh, Malaysia...
It really is time that our donations of Overseas Aid were made contingent on the recipients' record on religious liberty and their tolerance of 'the other' - and of Christians in particular. Perhaps if the churches were to speak out more forcefully on this global martyrdom - instead of singling out Israel, where Christians live in freedom, for their campaigns of condemnation and divestment - the world's democratic leaders wouldn't have to wait for the Times, the BBC and sundry celebrities to force a change of policy.